While the Braves were never expected to be a contender in 2016, the club’s 5-17 start is nonetheless a disappointment to a front office that expected to see some improvement over last year’s 67 wins, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. “We’re obviously disappointed in the way this season has gone,” GM John Coppolella tells Rosenthal. “We’re not going to make excuses. We know we need to play better.” Notably, Rosenthal writes that it’s “difficult to imagine” manager Fredi Gonzalez surviving the club’s upcoming eight-game road trip, though he notes that it’s unlikely that any other manager could extract positive results from the current roster, especially with Ender Inciarte on the shelf and Freddie Freeman struggling so greatly. Were Gonzalez to be dismissed, Rosenthal lists first base coach Terry Pendleton and bullpen coach Eddie Perez as candidates to replace him on an interim basis. The Braves extended Gonzalez and the rest of the coaching staff through the end of the 2016 season last July.
More out of Atlanta…
- Right-hander Bud Norris could be dropped from the rotation before his next start, writes David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. While Norris was solid in his first start of the season, he’s lasted a combined 15 2/3 innings over four subsequent turns, pitching to a 10.91 ERA in that span. O’Brien writes that manager Fredi Gonzalez was noncommittal when asked if Norris would take the hill upon his next scheduled trip. “We’re still hashing through that and talking though that kind of stuff to see what’s best for him, and what’s best for us,” said Gonzalez of Norris, who inked a one-year, $2.5MM deal this winter. “But I think the No. 1 priority is to get him fixed.” O’Brien adds that right-hander Mike Foltynewicz could be recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett to step into the starting five in place of Norris. MLB.com’s Mark Bowman, meanwhile, also lists right-hander Tyrell Jenkins as an option, noting that he’d be on just one extra day of rest were he to start in Norris’ place as opposed to the three extra days that Foltynewicz would require to align with that scheduling (links to Twitter). Both Bowman and O’Brien have tweeted that Norris is available out of the bullpen today, so it seems that his time in the rotation could indeed be over, for now.
- The Braves are expecting Inciarte to return to the active roster no later than next week’s homestand and possibly as early as their series against the Mets in New York next week, tweets O’Brien. Inciarte has played in only three games for Atlanta this season due to a strained left hamstring.
- Recently recalled outfield prospect Mallex Smith chatted with David Laurila of Fangraphs about his experience finding out that he was promoted to the Major Leagues and balancing the excitement with the recognition that a good deal of work remains. Smith notes that he grew up primarily playing football, as very few in his area played baseball as a child, and he also discusses his biggest strengths on the field. It’s been speculated that Smith could return to the minors when Inciarte is healthy, though as Bowman wrote last weekend, Gonzalez would like to see Smith remain with the big league club. The 22-year-old hasn’t hit much to date, though, batting just .188/.278/.292 in 54 plate appearances since being recalled to fill Inciarte’s spot on the roster.