Thursday, April 7, 2016

Atlanta Braves begin final season at Turner Field this week

The Atlanta Braves began their 2016 season on Monday when they played their Eastern Division rivals, the Washington Nationals, Monday afternoon at Turner Field in Atlanta.

The Braves were scheduled to wrap up their season-opening series against the Nats yesterday (Wednesday) and they’ll begin another at-home series against the St. Louis Cardinals tomorrow (Friday). The Braves will go on the road for the first time this season on Monday when they travel to Washington, D.C. for a rematch series against the Nationals.

A review of Atlanta’s 25-man roster on Monday was somewhat revealing and made me feel kind of old. Jason Grilli, a 39-year-old pitcher, is the oldest player on the team, followed closely by catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who is also 39, but seven weeks younger than Grilli. The youngest player on the team is 23-year-old pitcher John Grant, who was born on Aug. 6, 1992.

I looked to see if there were any Atlanta players with Alabama ties on this year’s team, but didn’t find any. However, there were a number of players with ties to Georgia, Florida and Texas.

According to Atlanta’s Opening Day line-up, right-hander Julio Teheran was set to start on the mound for the Braves. Pierzynski was listed as the starting catcher, and Freddie Freeman was set to start at first base. Jace Peterson started at second base, Erick Aybar started at shortstop, and Adonis Garcis started at third. Starting outfielders included Hector Olivera in left, Ender Inciarte in center and Nick Markakis in right.

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I think it’s also worth mentioning that this season will be the last season that the Braves will play at Turner Field. Next season, they will begin playing at SunTrust Park, which is actually located outside of Atlanta in Cobb County, Ga. Right now, the Braves are scheduled to play their final regular season game there on Oct. 2 against the Detroit Tigers. Of course, if the Braves make the postseason, there’s a chance that they could play a few more games at Turner Field.

I’ve been to more than a few Major League Baseball games over the years, but I have actually never been to Turner Field to see the Braves live and in person. The Braves started playing at Turner Field in 1997, and the last Braves game I watched in Atlanta was prior to this when the Braves played in the old Fulton County Stadium. That stadium was noteworthy for a number of reasons, especially because it’s where Hank Aaron hit his record-setting 715th home run.

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In news from the outdoor world this week comes a story about a panther that was spotted in a residential neighborhood in Florida.

According to a recent edition of The Miami Herald newspaper, a family in east Fort Myers, Fla. took a picture on March 18 of a large Florida panther “lounging” on their front porch. The photo of this endangered cat was forwarded to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission. The family said they were “shocked and amazed” by the cat, which was first spotted by a young child, who pointed at the cat, thinking it was a “funny dog.”

I make mention of this because from time to time I hear rumors of large cats being spotted in various locations around the county. There are bound to be big cats out there in the bushes somewhere, and anyone who sees one is encouraged to call me at The Courant to let me know. 

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