One of my favorite things last spring was how Jason Heyward kept hitting home runs out to right field at the Braves training complex and damaging cars out in the parking lot. Sure, that’s not that big a deal when you consider that the Braves stupidly put a parking lot right over the wall, but it certainly served as an awesomely ominous and badass Heyward harbinger for Braves fanboys to swoon about. Um, not that I, er, know any Braves fanboys around who swooned over Heyward. Not me!
Sadly, however, it seems that the Heyward-demolishes-cars thing is over. Dave O’Brien took a picture from the press box down in Orlando, and it seems that the Braves have put up a protective covering. Those orange tents just over the wall have been pitched in order to keep us all from getting excited it seems.
Guess we’ll have to settle for stories about Julio Teheran throwing the ball through the backstop in order to get us loopy as the spring wears on.
The Braves reportedly have a deal in place with free agent catcher Kurt Suzuki, per Chris Cotillo of SB Nation. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal adds that the contract is for one year, $1.5 million with up to $2.5 million in additional incentives.
Suzuki, 33, completed a three-year track with the Twins in 2016, slashing .258/.301/.403 with eight home runs in 373 PA. The veteran backstop likely won’t provide an offensive or defensive upgrade over current starter Tyler Flowers, but should give the Braves some depth at a position they’ve been looking to strengthen since the start of the offseason.
The team has yet to confirm the deal.
With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.
For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.
Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.