The Braves opened Grapefruit League play Saturday with a 4-3 loss to the Mets. New York’s Pete Alonso tattooing a pitch from Touki Toussaint will be the biggest highlight, but the Braves had plenty of positive takeaways from Game 1.
» Manager Brian Snitker loved what he saw from Toussaint, who relentless attacked hitters. Toussaint threw 11 of 14 pitches for strikes in a perfect first inning. He allowed two hits in the second, a shot off his foot and Alonso’s mammoth homer, but remained satisfied nonetheless.
“I liked Touki a lot,” Snitker said. “Touki was really, really good I thought. His stuff was in the zone, crisp. Secondary was good. It was really good.”
It was Toussaint’s first test as the Braves open competition for the fifth starter spot. Consider it a passing grade.
» Toussaint wasn’t the only pitcher throwing strikes. Wes Parsons provided a perfect inning with two strikeouts. Thomas Burrows and Chad Sobotka were excellent, combining for a pair of hitless-and-walkless frames.
“Burrows good, Sobotka, Parsons was crisp there, too,” Snitker said. “They all threw really good. The depth is really good when you look at it. It wasn’t overnight that it happened. It took a lot of hard work.”
It’s a minor happening, but given the Braves’ struggles throwing strikes a season ago, any reason for encouragement in that department is welcome.
» Charlie Culberson and Johan Camargo, the two regulars who made the trip, went a combined 0-for-5 in their spring debuts. Ronald Acuna and Ozzie Albies will make their first game appearances on Sunday in West Palm Beach.
» Outfielder Conner Lien hit a towering homer in the eighth. Lien, 24, has spent the past three seasons with Double-A Mississippi, hitting .206 with 23 homers in that time.
“That’s the launch-angle extraordinaire,” Snitker said of the homer.
» Jacob Webb, who finished strong for Triple-A Gwinnett last season, was tagged for a homer by Rymer Liriano to start his only inning. He rebounded to retire the next three Mets in order. Webb has a chance to work his way into the bullpen mix during the season, but he’s a relative unknown at the moment.
“Webb was good,” Snitker said. “I was excited to see him. I’d heard so much about him.”
» The Braves will start Mike Foltynewicz for the first and second innings Sunday at the Astros. Bryse Wilson will pitch the ensuing two frames.
Snitker announced Max Fried as Monday’s starter, followed by Sean Newcomb on Tuesday and Kyle Wright on Wednesday in Jupiter. Rather than carry Julio Teheran on the latter trip, he’ll stay in Orlando and throw a simulated game, allowing Wright to make a start.
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