On Saturday, manager Brian Snitker said he hadn’t even considered giving Grissom a chance to compete for game time in left field this spring. Snitker and the Braves want Grissom to spend all his time at the shortstop.
Then Grissom was included with other celebrity players who were made available to reporters at Saturday’s Braves Fest for fans. Projected starters at all positions except left field took turns in the media interview room. Grissom was the only shortstop on the list.
Grissom started 39 games at second base as a substitute for the injured Ozzie Albies and only one game as shortstop last season. At 6ft 3 and 210lbs, Grissom has a tall physique for a shortstop and some doubt his defense will be strong enough to hold the job.
Washington, the 70-year-old former Texas Rangers manager who is respected for his defensive drills, has assured the Braves he will have Grissom ready by the start of the season.
“It’s probably one of the most valuable things I have in my life right now, to be able to bounce stuff off of him,” Grissom said of Washington.
Washington volunteered for offseason work with Grissom.
“He said, ‘Let me have the kid three times,'” Snitker said. “It was great that Vaughn took the time to go through his winter and see the value in it. It will be good. He’ll definitely have a leg up to come to spring training and have all of that.
Grissom took the opportunity.
“I was thrilled,” he said. “I loved it. I couldn’t wait to go for the first time.”
Washington and Grissom have already held two week-long training sessions in New Orleans. Another week of practice is planned before the Braves pitchers and catchers report for spring practice in North Port, Fla. on February 13, followed by the positioners three days later.
Grissom, 22, will take on Orlando Arcia to replace Swanson, who has signed a seven-year, $177 million deal with the Chicago Cubs. Like first baseman Freddie Freeman, who signed with the Dodgers as a free agent ahead of the 2022 season, Swanson was a respected team leader, and his departure leaves a void.
Either Grissom or Arcia will be in the spotlight.
“We’re going to be fine,” Snitker said. “We will use the sum of our parts to make it happen.”
Snitker left open the possibility that Grissom and Arcia could share the job.
“I think those are two really good options that we could probably combine without abusing either of these guys and have a really good product,” Snitker said.
Five-time NL East champions Braves brought in catcher Sean Murphy from Oakland to share time with Travid d’Arnaud and have a long list of possible starters in left field, including Eddie Rosario, Marcell Ozuna and new signing Kevin Pillar .
Other positions appear ready for spring training.
Grissom said he’s ignoring speculation that positive reviews from Washington make him the favorite for the starting job.
“In a way, it’s reassuring,” Grissom said. “It’s cool, but baseball is a crazy sport. It’s very humbling. I know you gotta keep your head down and grind … For me, in my opinion, the job is not mine. I have yet to earn it. I try not to listen to the stuff at all.”
Grissom hit .271 with eight homers and 32 RBIs in 251 at-bats last season, exhausting his rookie status.
NOTES: RHP Mike Soroka, who is attempting a comeback from his second torn right hamstring, said he expects no limitations as spring training begins. He will fight for fifth place in the rotation. … BY Ronald Acuña Jr., who played through knee pain last season after undergoing surgery in 2021, said through a translator: “I think I’m feeling normal and healthy again, feeling 100%. I definitely don’t want to play DH anymore.”
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