Sad news to pass along this morning, as the Braves have announced that longtime broadcaster Pete Van Wieren has passed away following a long battle with cancer. He was 69 years old.
Nicknamed “The Professor,” Van Wieren called Braves games on television and radio for 33 seasons from 1976-2008. He became well-known nationally as a part of the TBS booth alongside the likes of Skip Caray, Ernie Johnson Sr., Don Sutton, and Joe Simpson. During his time with Turner Sports, he also broadcasted NBA, NHL, and Big Ten Conference football games.
Van Wieren was inducted into the Braves Hall of Fame in 2004 along with Caray. After his retirement in 2008, he released a book entitled “Of Mikes and Men: A Lifetime of Braves Baseball,” which was co-written with Jack Wilkinson. The picture to the right is from a pre-game ceremony for Hank Aaron at the Braves home opener this past April.
Our thoughts are with Van Wieren’s family, friends, and colleagues.
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.