Braves’ Austin Riley blasts massive homer to continue strong spring

Atlanta Braves' Austin Riley celebrates his two-run homer during a spring training baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays, Tuesday, March 3, 2020, in Venice, Fla. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Atlanta Braves' Austin Riley celebrates his two-run homer during a spring training baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays, Tuesday, March 3, 2020, in Venice, Fla. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Credit: Elise Amendola

Credit: Elise Amendola

Austin Riley’s bid for the Braves’ starting third-base job continued Tuesday with a massive home run in an exhibition game against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Riley crushed a pitch from Aaron Slegers against the CoolToday Park scoreboard well beyond the left-center field wall. Unfortunately, a projected distance wasn’t available for the homer, which accounted for both of the Braves’ runs in a 5-2 loss to the Rays.

But the long, loud blast certainly underscored Riley’s power potential and the impressive spring training he is having.

“That ball was scorched, yeah,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “I really like where he’s at, all the work he has done and the effort and focus he has put into it.

“I think he looks really good. I mean, we know what kind of damage he can do when he gets like that. That was good to see.”

In the tiny sample size of seven Grapefruit League games, Riley is hitting .316 (6-for-19) and, perhaps most encouraging for the Braves, has  struck out only three times. Tuesday’s homer was his first of the spring.

Riley is competing with Johan Camargo for the starting third-base job. Both players were in the lineup Tuesday, Riley at designated hitter and Camargo at third base. In Monday’s game, Riley played third base and Camargo was the DH.

Camargo also is having a strong spring training. He is batting .389 (7-for-18) with one homer and three strikeouts, including 1-for-3 on Tuesday.