The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Bryce Elder not concerned after serving up grand slam
Bryce Elder’s TAMPA, FLA. — outing began like this: Single, single, single all on — ground balls and then a — grand slam.
“For one, I’m a sinkerballer,” Elder said after exiting. “I think, obviously, on paper it looks horrible. But I really didn’t think I threw that bad. I mean, one bad pitch and it looks even worse than it is.”
Elder would have liked better results in his spring debut, but this is, after all, spring training. The point is to focus on building up, and the command should improve as the spring progresses.
On Sunday at George M. Steinbrenner Field, Elder allowed four runs on four hits over 1⅔ innings. He also walked a batter. The Braves lost to the Yankees, 7-0.
New York’s Jose Trevino launched the 398-foot, no-doubt grand slam that sailed over the left-field fence. He jumped on an 89 mph sinker that went in but stayed too far up in the zone.
After the game, manager Brian Snitker didn’t seem too concerned about Elder. He said the righty threw the ball over the plate. The Yankees’ ground balls found holes. Then Snitker joked: “He got out of trouble, though. He gave up the grand slam, got out of trouble ... started over.”
The pitch to Trevino wasn’t a good one. But one single came on a pitch up and away — that appeared to be out of the zone — and another came on a sinker at the bottom of the zone.
“It’s gonna be rusty,” Elder said. “I kind of knew that. Obviously I would’ve liked for it to be not as rusty, but I was leaving some stuff up, so I think as my command gets better, I’ll be just fine.”
Elder threw 37 pitches, 21 for strikes. This marked his second time facing hitters this spring. Last week, he threw a simulated inning in the main stadium at the Braves’ complex.
Elder is among the pitchers competing for the fifth spot in the starting rotation. Ian Anderson and Michael Soroka (currently dealing with a hamstring ailment) are the other names in the competition.
“I’m not looking for him to set the world on fire,” Snitker said of Elder. “I think to just be himself, not try and do too much, doing exactly what he came in and did last year — throw a lot of strikes with a really good sinker and a good slider. I think if he does that, he’s going to be very successful.”
MLB contacts Snitker after Saturday game’s pitch clock violation
After the Braves tied in their Grapefruit League opener Saturday on a pitch clock violation that became strike three in a full-count, bases-loaded situation, Snitker heard from Major League Baseball. Michael Hill, MLB’S senior vice president of on-field operations, called Snitker. The two talked. Snitker said he expected to hear from Hill.
“They did everything right,” Snitker said of the situation. “It was a good learning tool, I think, for everybody in the game, probably.”
The lesson: The hitter must be aware to the pitcher with eight seconds left on the pitch clock. The catcher must be in the batter’s box with nine seconds left, standing or crouched.
So even though Boston’s catcher was standing up and wasn’t ready for the pitch Saturday, he was in the box. Braves infielder Cal Conley, on the other hand, was not aware to the pitcher because he was looking down at the catcher.
Twins claim pitcher Santana off waivers
In the offseason, the Braves acquired Dennis Santana for cash. He reported to spring training in North Port. Now he’s with the Twins, who on Sunday announced they claimed the right-handed reliever off waivers from the Braves.
The Braves had placed Santana on outright waivers. He likely wasn’t going to make the opening-day roster because Atlanta has a lot of bullpen depth in camp.
The Braves acquired Santana in November. They believed he had great stuff, but he ended up on the outside looking in on the bullpen situation. After trading for Santana, the Braves acquired Joe Jiménez and Lucas Luetge. Around the same time they traded for Santana, they re-signed Jesse Chavez and brought in Nick Anderson. Kirby Yates is healthy and had a normal offseason.
By placing Santana on waivers now he has an oppor- tunity to catch on elsewhere with a big chunk of spring training left.
Two innings passed, and the Braves didn’t have a hit. Four passed and still no hit. Six passed, and nothing had changed.
“I was very aware of it,” Snitker said. “I kind of thought we’d probably get no-hit.”
Even in an exhibition game, no one wants to get no-hit, and the Braves finally breathed a sigh of relief when Sam Hilliard singled with two outs in the seventh inning.
A few nice pitching performances noted
Snitker lauded a few pitchers: Dylan Lee, Blake Burkhalter and Roddery Muñoz. Lee, who pitched for the Braves last season, struck out two batters in a perfect inning. Burkhalter and Muñoz tossed scoreless frames.
Burkhalter, drafted last year out of Auburn, struck out two batters before walking one. He then got the final out of the inning.
“He looks like he’s another guy that has a feel for the strike zone,” Snitker said. “I don’t know if it’s focus or whatever when you get two quick outs, and are going really good, and have a four-pitch walk. That’s one of those learning moments when you’ve got to just stay focused.”