Pablo Sandoval makes Braves’ opening day roster

Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports Images
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.ATLANTA – Kung Fu Panda has made the opening day roster for the Atlanta Braves.

The team made a flurry of moves Saturday to complete its 26-man roster, which included selecting the contract of nonroster infielder Pablo Sandoval.

The 34-year-old Sandoval is a two-time All-Star and 2012 World Series MVP looking to revive his career in a bench role with the Braves. The portly switch-hitter earned his spot with a strong spring, hitting .429 with four RBIs in 35 at-bats.

The Braves, who open the season Thursday at Philadelphia, also selected the contracts of two other nonroster players: infielder Ehire Adrianza and reliever Nate Jones.

Infielder Jason Kipnis, a two-tine All-Star trying to make the Braves as a non-roster invitee, was released.

In addition, the team outrighted outfielder Abraham Almonte to the alternate training site, designated outfielder Phillip Ervin for assignment and placed pitcher Touki Toussaint on the 60-day injured list with a right shoulder strain.

Sandoval, whose contract will be upgraded to a one-year, $1 million deal, hit .214 in 84 at-bats with the Braves and San Francisco Giants in 2020. He was added to Atlanta’s postseason roster, going hitless in four plate appearances as the Braves came within one game of reaching the World Series.

The Braves hope Sandoval can return to the form he showed in 2019, when he hit .268 with 14 homers for the Giants.

Adrianza claimed another opening on Atlanta’s bench by hitting .412 in spring training, with two homers and a team-high 12 RBIs through Friday’s game.

The versatile, 31-year-old Venezuelan, who previously played with San Francisco and Minnesota, will primarily provide depth at shortstop behind Dansby Swanson. Adrianza also has played the other infield positions as well as the outfield during his career.

Jones is another nonroster player who impressed the Braves this spring. The 35-year-old right-hander allowed only one run through seven appearances covering 7 1-3 innings, surrendering three hits with one walk.

Jones played eight seasons with the Chicago White Sox before moving last season to Cincinnati, where he went 0-1 with a 6.27 ERA in 21 appearances.

The Braves will begin with only four starters on their pitching staff after optioning Bryse Wilson to the alternate training site for what is expected to be about a two-week stay.

The Braves won’t use a fifth starter on their first pass through the rotation. Wilson will likely make his first start on April 13 after beating out Kyle Wright for the fifth starter spot.

Mike Soroka will start the season on the injured list as he continues his recovery from a torn Achilles.