Spring Training Notebook: 3/18

Almanza is a question for Opening Day

Bill Shanks reports in from Spring Training with the latest Major League updates: Paul Byrd continues to progress at a rapid pace; Jose Capellan and Roman Colon are beginning to look more and more like a legimate bullpen candidates; Andy Pratt a shoo-in for roster spot.

- The first cuts could come at any time. Blaine Boyer, Kelly Johnson, Tony Pena, Scott Thorman, and Onil Joseph will probably be included in the first cuts. The Braves are still undecided as to where they will place Boyer in the minor leagues. It is still possible that he could skip Myrtle Beach and go to AA Greenville. Joseph has impressed the Braves coaching staff a great deal. They really believe that he will grow into a potential starting outfielder in a few years.

- Paul Byrd continues progressing in his rehabilitation. Bobby Cox expects Byrd to pitch in the Minor Leagues in April, and then join the Braves in Atlanta sometime in May. This would make it easier to move Jaret Wright back into the Atlanta bullpen when Byrd is ready.

- With Armando Almanza and Kevin Gryboski questions for Opening Day, Jose Capellan and Roman Colon could be the favorites to open the season in Atlanta. Cappy continues to dazzle Bobby Cox with his high-90's fastball, and Colon has been very consistent in his appearances.

- The Braves continue to flirt with the idea of making Bubba Nelson a reliever. There seems to be a split of opinion as to whether or not he would be better as a starter or reliever at the major league level. However, Nelson is expected to be in the Richmond rotation on Opening Day.

- Andy Pratt has more or less made the Atlanta roster.

- Brian Moehler and Dave Elder continue to do well in their rehabilitation. Both will probably stay behind in extended Spring Training and could join Richmond's staff sometime in April.

- Infielder Wilson Betemit told me he thinks he is ready for the big leagues. He does not want to play in Richmond for a third year. There are many who would like to see him win the utility infielder's slot in Atlanta. This would certainly help clear the logjam in Richmond.

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