Tucker Davidson’s goal is to begin season in the majors with Braves

Braves pitcher Tucker Davidson works on his arm strength during spring training Thursday, March 17, 2022, in North Port.    “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Braves pitcher Tucker Davidson works on his arm strength during spring training Thursday, March 17, 2022, in North Port. “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”

NORTH PORT, Fla. – For Tucker Davidson, the goal is clear.

“Obviously I want to make the rotation, I want to break with the team,” Davidson said. “But I think honestly any way I can help – if that’s in the bullpen, that’s in the rotation. We’re going to need all of us this year, especially with kind of how short spring training is.”

The left-hander threw three perfect innings Saturday at CoolToday Park as the Braves beat Minnesota, 8-6. He struck out four batters. He’s allowed two runs over five innings this spring.

Davidson is competing with a group of others for two – maybe three – rotation spots. The Braves seemingly have three locks in Charlie Morton, Max Fried and Ian Anderson.

“Controlling emotions and not expending any necessary energy is big for him,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said after the game. “Just kind of staying pitch to pitch and not getting caught up in a big situation. Today, I saw that. It was good.”

This means they need two more starting pitchers. Or it could be three if they decide to use a six-man rotation to begin the season.

Davidson said he believes his chances to make the rotation are “good.”

“Anywhere the team needs me, I’m going to be able to help,” he said. “If that’s out of the bullpen because we need a long reliever, or if that’s a sixth starter or fifth starter, whatever the case may be, I’m here to do whatever it takes.”

Last season, Davidson pitched to a 3.60 ERA over four starts. A left forearm strain forced him to the injured list in June, but he eventually returned and pitched in the World Series.

He feels he’s better off this year than last.

“I feel like just the confidence in myself,” Davidson said. “I got a taste of the big leagues last year, I made a couple starts before I got hurt and they were good.”

Acuña wants to play OF upon return

As of now, it appears the Braves are looking at the first week of May for Ronald Acuña to return and play in the outfield.

Asked if he might receive some time as the designated hitter until he can play the outfield, Acuña, through interpreter Franco García, said: “The way I’m looking at it is whenever I come back, I’m playing right field.”

Snitker has praised the 24-year-old outfielder for how healthy he’s looked in camp after tearing his ACL in July.

Initially, it appeared the Braves believed Acuña would return in late May. Now he could be ready sooner.

“I feel good,” Acuña said. “I’m just going to keep doing my thing, keep putting the work in, and I’m just going to wait until they tell me that I’m ready to play, and I’m just going to keep preparing for that.”

Harris to begin season at Double-A

Michael Harris, the Braves’ top prospect, will begin the season at Double-A MIssissippi.

This is the natural next step for Harris, an outfielder who spent 2021 in High A. He has some developing to do, even if the Braves think highly of him. The club on Saturday reassigned Harris to minor-league camp.

Over 101 High-A contests, Harris hit .294 with a .798 on-base plus slugging percentage. He hit seven home runs and drove in 64 runs. He stole 27 bases in 31 attempts.

This spring, Harris is 3-for-11 with a double, two RBIs and three walks. He has stolen three bases.

Fans have been excited about Harris’ inclusion in spring training lineups, and his performance in the games, but he was never expected to break camp with the big club.

More on Ozuna’s defense

In the third inning versus Minnesota, Marcell Ozuna hit a three-run homer off Chi Chi Gonzalez.

Ozuna, of course, is known much more for his bat than his glove. But he’s played a fair amount of spring games in left field, and it might be that way during the regular season until Acuña returns.

Braves manager Brian Snitker said he’s comfortable with Ozuna in left field.

“He works at it. He’s not bad out there,” Snitker said. “The thing is his arm. It’s what it is now. As far as running the ball down and everything, he’s fine. We’re going to have to. If that’s what we go, it’s what we got.”

Ozuna doesn’t have a strong arm, but one metric indicates his defense isn’t bad. According to FanGraphs, Ozuna saved the Braves four runs with his defense in left field last season – which is even more impressive considering he didn’t play after May 25. Ozuna has 19 Defensive Runs Saved in left field since 2014.

Snitker said he talked to Eddie Rosario about playing right field in Acuña’s absence because the Braves might need Ozuna to play left field. Against lefties, Snitker said, the Braves could put Ozuna in the designated hitter slot while playing Adam Duvall in left field and Guillermo Heredia in center field. But right now, these are only options.

The Braves have about a week and a half to sort it out.

Opening-day starter?

Charlie Morton and Max Fried are on the same day this spring, which means it’s impossible to tell which of them will start opening day.

“I kind of know, but we’re not announcing it yet,” Snitker said of the opening-day starter.

Morton will pitch in Sunday’s spring training game in Port Charlotte against the Rays, while Fried will stay in North Port and throw a simulated game.


  • In a 4-4 tie in the seventh inning, Brock Holt gave the Braves a lead with a solo homer off righty Steven Cruz. Holt is in camp on a minor-league deal.
  • Left-hander A.J. Minter tossed a scoreless inning. This spring, he’s pitched two scoreless innings with three strikeouts.