The Standard Journal

Colon, Dickey are Braves’ new kids to watch this spring

- R.A. Dickey is one of two pitchers signed to the Atlanta Braves as a placeholde­r. He will compete, along with Bartolo Colon for a spot left in the rotation when spring training begins. Associated Press Sports Writer

ATLANTA — The Atlanta Braves’ long- term plan hasn’t changed. The future still rests on young pitching.

For next week’s start of spring training, however, the Braves’ new kids to watch will be 40-something right-handers Bartolo Colon and R.A. Dickey.

Colon, 43, and Dickey, 42, were signed to one-year deals in November to serve as placeholde­rs for the young pitchers. The team also acquired left-hander Jaime Garcia from St. Louis. The three are expected to join ace Julio Teheran in the rotation.

That leaves Matt Wisler, Mike Foltynewic­z, Aaron Blair, Josh Collmenter and others to compete for possibly only one rotation spot this spring.

“There are not a lot of spots open, so consequent­ly guys are going to have to go out and prepare and show us we’re wrong,” manager Brian Snitker told The Associated Press. “There’s nothing wrong with that. The competitio­n is good.”

Braves pitchers and catchers report today.

The Braves’ rebuilding plan gained momentum last season following the trade for left fielder Matt Kemp and the promotion of shortstop Dansby Swanson. Atlanta finished last in the NL East, but it won 50 of its last 97 games, including 20 of its last 30. The strong finish earned Snitker the fulltime job after he replaced the fired Fredi Gonzalez on an interim basis.

Here are some areas to watch in spring training:

New position players include catcher Kurt Suzuki and utility player Sean Rodriguez, who hit 18 homers in 300 at-bats with Pittsburgh last season. Rodriguez can provide depth around the infield and at the corner outfield spots. Suzuki should share time with Tyler Flowers.

Swanson barely qualifies for rookie of the year considerat­ion after hitting .302 in 129 at-bats. He looked comfortabl­e from the start, showing why he was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 draft by Arizona. Rio Ruiz could have a chance to show he could be an option for Adonis Garcia at third base.

Rodriguez could push Jace Peterson and possibly Micah Johnson, who was acquired from the Dodgers, for the starting job at second base. Every other position appears set. “We all liked where we were when the season ended,” Snitker said.

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