ATLANTA – The Braves’ commitment to giving Vaughn Grissom a chance to earn the starting shortstop job cannot be questioned.
The Braves, who are expected to replace Dansby Swanson, first scheduled Grissom for three off-season visits with third base coach Ron Washington for intense field drills, each lasting at least a week.
On Saturday, head coach Brian Snitker said he didn’t even consider giving Grissom a chance to compete for playing time in left field this spring. Snitker and the Braves want Grissom to spend all of his time at shortstop.
So Grissom was included with other prominent players made available to reporters at Braves Fest for fans on Saturday. Projected starters in 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 replacement for the injured Ozzie Albies and only one game at shortstop last season. At 6’10” and 200 pounds, Grissom packs a punch for a shortstop, and some doubt his defense is strong enough to keep the job.
271 with eight home runs and 32 RBI in 251 hits last season, depleting his rookie status.
Washington, the 70-year-old former Texas Rangers manager respected for his defensive drills, volunteered for the offseason job with Grissom and assured the Braves he’ll have Grissom ready early in the season.
“That’s probably one of the most valuable pieces I have in my life right now, being able to get stuff out of him,” Grissom said of Washington.
Snitker said: “[Washington] it was like, ‘Let me have that boy three different times.’ It was great that Vaughn took time out of his winter and got out there and saw the value in it. Will be nice. He will definitely have an advantage to start spring training and have all of that.”
Washington and Grissom have already held two week-long training sessions in New Orleans. One more week of drills is planned before Braves pitchers and receivers report for spring training in North Port, Fla., on Feb. 13, followed by position players three days later.
Grissom, 22, will compete with Orlando Arcia to replace Swanson, who signed a seven-year, $177 million deal with the Chicago Cubs.
Snitker left open the possibility that Grissom and Arcia would share the work.
“We’re going to be fine,” Snitker said. “We’ll use the sum of our parts to make that happen. I think those are two really good options that we could probably come together and not abuse either of these guys and have a really good product.”
In other news, RHP Mike Soroka, trying to recover from his second tear in his right Achilles tendon, said he hopes to have no restrictions going into spring training. He will compete for 5th place in the rotation.