The Braves’ three newly acquired relief pitchers arrived at SunTrust Park on Thursday, and manager Brian Snitker immediately set their roles.
He said Shane Greene will be the Braves’ closer, while Chris Martin will be the primary setup reliever and Mark Melancon will work in middle relief and setup roles.
“I told (Greene) that he’d probably be getting the ninth inning and (Martin) the eighth and Melancon can work all of them -- six, seven,” Snitker said. “And it slots some of the other guys back earlier in the game, some of the guys that we have been leaning on late in the game. Which just makes our bullpen deeper.”
Greene, who replaces Luke Jackson as the closer, relishes assuming the role on the National League East-leading Braves. Asked before Snitker met with the media Thursday what his role would be, Greene said: “I’ll be out there in the ninth.” He had endured weeks of trade rumors before he was dealt to the Braves by the Detroit Tigers, the last-place team in the American League Central.
“The best way to describe it,” Greene said of trade-deadline speculation, “is your girlfriend texts you and says we need to talk. And then you call her and she doesn’t answer. So you sit by your phone and you wait to see what happens.”
Greene certainly brings a closer’s mentality to the role: “I’m ready,” he said. “I stay ready.”
He also said: “I’m a guy who is going to compete every time out. The way I have always described it is if you’re in a boxing ring throwing haymakers. It’s the same thing. I’ll be out there throwing my haymakers. They’ll be throwing theirs. One of us will get knocked out. Hopefully I’m the last man standing.”
The Braves’ bullpen makeover occurred via a series of trades Tuesday and Wednesday. Martin was acquired from the Texas Rangers and Melancon from the San Francisco Giants.
The three newly acquired pitchers -- all right-handers -- were available for the Braves’ game against the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday night, the opener of a four-game series at SunTrust Park.
“I’m ready to get to know these guys and go to battle with them,” Martin said.
Melancon had to waive a no-trade clause in his contract with the Giants for his trade to go through.
“I had about two hours (to decide),” Melancon said. “I said, ‘Give me a few seconds to call my wife and make sure that she OKs it.’ ... She’s a trooper, and she was more than happy to. We’re very excited.”
Greene, 30, had 22 saves and a 1.18 ERA in 38 games for Detroit this season, his fifth with the Tigers. Martin, 33, had a 3.08 ERA in 38 games for Texas, striking out 43 and walking only four in 38 innings. Melancon, 34, had a 3.50 ERA in 43 appearances for the Giants, including a 0.93 ERA and .125 opponents’ batting average since the All-Star break.
“They’re all having really good years and have all closed games,” Snitker said. “That’s really good when you can add guys who have experience closing in the major leagues to your bullpen.
“We still have to play the games and we’ll see, but we sure like it going forward. And none of them have been overused this year either. They don’t come with tons of appearances and heavy innings loads. I look at them as three fresh arms.”
To make room for the newcomers on the 25-man roster, the Braves optioned relievers A.J. Minter, Chad Sobotka and Jeremy Walker to Triple-A Gwinnett.
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