LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- As Braves pitchers and catchers reported to Spring Training on Tuesday, Mike Foltynewicz re-acquainted with members of his team and made it clear his new role as a proud papa might significantly reduce the amount of idle time he spends with teammates this year in
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- As Braves pitchers and catchers reported to Spring Training on Tuesday, Mike Foltynewicz re-acquainted with members of his team and made it clear his new role as a proud papa might significantly reduce the amount of idle time he spends with teammates this year in the clubhouse and on the golf course.
"I told a couple of the guys around here, 'This is no disrespect, but right now, I'm going to get my work in, get the heck out of here and help Mama out right now because she needs it,'" Foltynewicz said in reference to his wife Brittany, who gave birth to the couple's first child this past weekend.
Michael Jett Foltynewicz was born Saturday morning, approximately eight hours after his father had rushed back from an arbitration hearing in Phoenix to be with Brittany, who had been admitted to an Orlando, Fla., hospital on Thursday.
The birth also occurred a few hours before Foltynewicz received word he had lost his arbitration hearing and would be receiving the Braves' $2.2 million offer, instead of the $2.3 million he had requested.
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"When [union representatives] called and told me it was a [loss], it didn't matter," Foltynewicz said. "My son was born Saturday and I didn't really care."
Per MLB Players Association arbitration guidelines, Foltynewicz had to be present for the hearing to take place. Thus, as Brittany was being admitted to the hospital on Thursday, he had to fly across the country to go through the hearing process.
Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos attended arbitration hearings back when he served as the Blue Jays' assistant GM. But since becoming a GM, he has counted himself among the many top team officials who choose to avoid the sometimes contentious environment an arbitration hearing creates. In attempt to avoid the hearing, the Braves offered Foltynewicz a $2.25 million salary before ending negotiations on Jan. 12, when all Major League teams were required to swap figures with their unsigned arbitration-eligible players.
Providing another sign of his ultra-competitive nature, which could prove quite beneficial once he learns to harness his aggression on the mound, Foltynewicz opted to go through with the hearing and make the $2.3 million salary request.
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A much more consistent Foltynewicz would make an immediate positive impact on this year's club and also enhance excitement about the Braves' bright future. The 26-year-old right-hander has the stuff necessary to become a legitimate frontline starter. But by posting a 4.85 ERA through his first 65 career starts, he has created reason to wonder if he would best be utilized as a starter or reliever.
Foltynewicz threw to a 3.30 ERA through his first 11 starts last season and then surrendered eight earned runs over 3 1/3 innings during a June 12 game at Nationals Park. He posted a 2.95 ERA over the next seven starts and then allowed at least five runs in four of the five starts that followed.
Looking at ways he can improve, Foltynewicz has focused on sharpening his fastball command and the consistency of both his slider and curveball. The .295 on-base percentage he surrendered with two strikes ranked as the 12th-worst figure among all pitchers who made at least 20 starts last season.
"I just want to get back in the swing of things," Foltynewicz said. "I've been itching to get going."