Time for daily lines again… it’s officially baseball season. THANK GOODNESS!
Johnson working on D: With only one Johnson left on the team at least some confusion has been cleared up. Third baseman Chris Johnson has reportedly been working on his defense this off-season.
“I’ve been working on quickness, defensive stuff. TP (first-base coach Terry Pendleton) has been here a lot, we’ve been working on that. Lot of footwork, that first-step quickness, some hand stuff.”
By most defensive metrics (UZR, UZR150) Johnson is in the bottom third in defense among Major League third baseman, below Pablo Sandoval, but above Ryan Zimmerman. Johnson was notably worse defensively last year than Chipper Jones was in his final season (at age 40). Just another reminder of how underrated Chipper was at the hot corner. In defense of Johnson, last year was his best defensive season in four Major League seasons. It’s encouraging to know that he’s improving and apparently working to improve even further. The impact of the lack of range Johnson provides at third is mitigated by all-World shortstop Andrelton Simmons.
Interview with Medlen: The sports blog Iceman Sports scored an interview with Kris Medlen (apparently through a connection with his wife). It’s a solid interview, worth checking out. I especially like Kris’ answer to the question about whether or not he thinks the Braves need another veteran in the rotation (an often repeated refrain from the media this off-season):
I’d be a fool if I didn’t admit us losing Tim Hudson was a big deal, but we played without him and guys rose to the occasion because we knew we had to. Tim has been so great for my development as a pitcher and person. Guys come and go every year, and you need to deal with that. And what better way than to be thrown into the fire and develop on the job.
Just Make Team: Freddy Garcia is a non-roster invitee to Braves camp this spring, and if he doesn’t make the team, then:
“I told my agent, ‘If I don’t make the team, I’m going home,'” Garcia said. “I’m not going back to the Minor Leagues, like last year. I did it last year. But if I don’t make the team, I’ll go home and spend time with the family.”
The story is actually incorrect that he started in Baltimore’s rotation last year, he actually started in the minors for the Orioles, and only joined Baltimore in May. Garcia also had a horrid spring training with San Diego, which led to his release. He gave up 20 earned runs on 26 hits in 20.2 innings pitched.
Happy Valentines Day: And finally, it’s Valentines Day. The excellent parody account @FakeDanUggla has a new account with Braves-themed Valentines Day cards called @BravesValentine that is worth a look today… though a word or warning, it’s incredibly offensive (probably why it’s so funny). Here is one of the less offensive ones: