ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Braves further trimmed their camp roster Friday, a little less than three weeks from opening day.
The team optioned right-handers Seth Elledge, Roddery Munoz and Darius Vines to Triple-A Gwinnett. It reassigned righty Alan Rangel and infielders Cal Conley and Luke Waddell to minor-league camp.
The Braves have 53 players in camp.
Lefty Kolby Allard will open the season on the injured list after he suffered a grade-2 right-oblique strain. It’s a tough blow for Allard, whom the Braves reacquired from Texas over the winter to add pitching depth. Allard allowed one run on three hits over five innings this spring (two appearances).
The competition for the fifth-starter spot is between Ian Anderson and Bryce Elder, though both pitchers will get opportunities throughout the season regardless how where they begin it.
McHugh out of public eye
Veteran reliever Collin McHugh hasn’t appeared during the exhibition season. He’s been working behind the scenes on the back fields at the team’s facility and threw a live batting practice Friday. Manager Brian Snitker said McHugh is fine health-wise.
McHugh, 35, was excellent in his first season with the Braves, earning a 2.60 ERA across a career-high-tying 58 appearances.
Wright throws live batting practice
Starter Kyle Wright also threw a live batting practice Friday. He’s been delayed after getting a cortisone shot to address his throwing shoulder in January, but the team has been hopeful he’ll have time to be ready for the start of the season.
Wright might make his spring debut next week, but Snitker didn’t indicate when that could be. The right-hander is hoping to build off a breakout 2022 season in which he had a 3.19 ERA in 30 starts. Wright also was MLB’s only 20-game winner (21).
“He’s checking all the boxes and feels good,” Snitker said. “It’s just a matter now of getting him built up. We’re talking about how many games we have left (just under three weeks’ worth), that’s good because it’ll give us a chance to get Kyle his starts in.”
Culberson continues career
Charlie Culberson, once a fan favorite in Atlanta, started at second base for the Rays on Friday when the Braves visited Tropicana Field. Culberson is on a minor-league deal with Tampa Bay, trying to earn a roster spot this spring.
The beloved utility man spent 2018-20 with the Braves, serving a variety of roles off the bench as the Braves became perennial postseason participants, then played the past two seasons with the Rangers.
Culberson, who turns 34 next month, singled home a run against Braves starter Ian Anderson in the second inning.
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