Braves option A.J. Minter, Chad Sobotka to Triple-A

Braves pitcher A.J. Minter delivers a pitch during spring training on Friday, Feb. 14, 2020, in North Port.  Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: Curtis Compton

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Braves pitcher A.J. Minter delivers a pitch during spring training on Friday, Feb. 14, 2020, in North Port. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: Curtis Compton

Credit: Curtis Compton

Neither A.J. Minter nor Chad Sobotka were expected to open the season in the Braves’ bullpen. Their far-fetched roster bids officially concluded Monday.

The Braves optioned both players to Triple-A Gwinnett, trimming their roster to 52. Manager Brian Snitker insisted both relievers, who’ve had their share of struggles, will be part of the team’s regular season.

“We’re going to need them before the year is over,” Snitker said. “We used 30 (pitchers) last year. Just keeping as many guys in play as we can, keeping them (on) regular (schedules).”

Minter had a 2019 season to forget. After a fender-bender car accident squandered his spring, he never recovered to the point of becoming a key contributor. Once considered the franchise’s closer of the future, Minter lost the job, spending much of the year in Triple-A.

He finished with a 7.06 ERA in 36 games. He walked 23 hitters in 29 1-3 frames. He wasn’t likely to make the club out of spring training, but Snitker did suggest Minter is trending in the right direction.

“A.J., I told him it wasn’t all his fault (last season),” he said. “Last year he got in a car wreck in spring training and never caught up. He just never caught up. It shows how fragile this whole thing is. You’re never guaranteed anything and things can change quickly. You approach every day as a big deal. I’ve seen A.J., he’s looked like a different guy to me this spring. He’s been in better shape. It’s just a matter of getting him going and how we’re going to construct the bullpen.”

Sobotka tantalized when he debuted in 2018, but last season extinguished that optimism. The hard-throwing, towering righty had a 6.21 ERA in 29 innings, striking out 38 and walking 19 in that span. He’s one of many who’ll try to make the most of temporary promotions as the Braves rely on a bevy of relievers.

The Braves have 26 more cuts to make before reaching their 26-man opening day roster.