Pablo Sandoval, Ehire Adrianza, Nate Jones make Braves’ roster

The Braves rewarded the three most impressive players in their camp with spots on the opening-day roster.

Infielder Ehire Adrianza, reliever Nate Jones and infielder Pablo Sandoval were added to the 40-man roster Friday, the team announced Saturday morning. Seeking depth on a budget, the Braves entered spring hoping some of their non-roster invitees could surprise and force their way into the team’s plans. Adrianza, Jones and Sandoval did just that.

“When you look at (Sandoval and Adrianza), they come in, and you tell guys they’re competing for a job, and they did, it’s hard to deny either of those guys,” manager Brian Snitker said.

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Adrianza, 31, has had an incredible spring. He’s hit .412 with two homers and 12 RBIs in 34 at-bats. He hasn’t provided much with the bat over his eight-year career, but his did everything in his power to earn a spot this spring. The Braves will see if his offensive surge carries into the regular season, but he’ll at least provide defense and versatility.

Jones, 35, entered camp fighting an uphill battle, yet like Adrianza, he blew the Braves away. Jones didn’t allow a run in his first six appearances – he finally gave up a homer to the Twins’ Kyle Garlick on Friday – and appeared closer to his past form, when he was one of the steadier relievers in the majors for the White Sox.

Sandoval, 34, has had an outstanding exhibition season. He’s hit .429/.463/.978, which includes a three-hit game Friday. While he can handle both corner infield spots, Sandoval wasn’t going to make the team for defensive purposes, so he had to excel with the bat.

“Pablo has done it,” Snitker said. “The way he’s come in, the professionalism, what he adds in the clubhouse, the presence he has, the respect he has from everybody, and the fact he can still hit. He’s what you’re looking for. He’s a guy who can sit around and stay ready.”

As for their roles, Adrianza will be the primary backup shortstop while also being capable of manning other infield positions. Jones gives the Braves another veteran right-hander in a bullpen that’s loaded with high-leverage lefties. Sandoval can cover the corner infield spots while providing needed bench offense.

In a series of corresponding transactions, outfielder Phillip Ervin was designated for assignment, creating a spot on the 40-man roster for Sandoval. The Braves released infielder Jason Kipnis, who was in camp this spring on a minor league contract, and infielder Jake Lamb, who would’ve served a similar role to Sandoval but hadn’t impressed. Outfielder Abraham Almonte was outrighted to the alternate site.

The Braves also announced they optioned right-hander Bryse Wilson to the alternate training site, a decision they made Friday. Wilson likely will return in mid-April as the team’s No. 5 starter. Additionally, right-hander Touki Toussaint was placed on the 60-day injured list with a right shoulder strain. Toussaint wasn’t going to make the opening-day roster, but that’s a blow to the beginning of his season, which is an important one in determining his future with the organization.