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ATLANTA (AP) — Ronald Acuna Jr. helped the Atlanta Braves accelerate their rebuilding schedule in 2018 http://www.dodgersfanproshop.com/authentic-max-muncy-jersey , when they were the surprise NL East champions.As the Braves enter their last spring training at their Disney complex in Kissimmee, Florida, the next challenge is to move closer to their first World Series since 1999.Acuna won the NL rookie of the year and placed 12th in the MVP voting despite playing in only 111 games as a 20-year-old left fielder. The native of Venezuela showed all the tools — power, speed and defense — that make him the next face of the franchise.Freddie Freeman, the current franchise player who was fourth in that MVP vote, said he can’t wait to see what Acuna can do in a full season.“I don’t know what that guy’s ceiling is,” Freeman said last month. “He is special. … It’s going to be fun to watch him play every single day. If he can stay healthy, it’s going to be huge.”The Braves bolstered their lineup by signing third baseman Josh Donaldson, the 2015 AL MVP, to a one-year, $23 million deal. They also added veteran catcher Brian McCann, bringing him back to where he launched his career, and re-signed right fielder Nick Markakis.Here are some areas to watch for during spring training:NEW LOOKA left calf strain spoiled Donaldson’s 2018 season with Toronto and Cleveland. The Braves are gambling Donaldson, 33 Sandy Koufax Jersey , returns to his peak three-year level of 2015-17, when he averaged 37 homers. “We weren’t looking at third base,” said general manager Alex Anthopoulos. “We just wanted a big bat with power.” McCann replaces Kurt Suzuki in sharing time with catcher Tyler Flowers. Donaldson pushes Johan Camargo out of third base and into a super utility role. Camargo and Charlie Culberson provide excellent versatility to the bench, a weak spot in 2018. Replacement starters must be found for Anibal Sanchez and Brandon McCarthy, who combined for 39 starts last season.ROOKIESTO WATCHRight-hander Touki Toussaint could win a rotation spot this spring. His teammates rave about his potential, which is built around a curveball which promises to be his signature pitch. Left-handers Kolby Allard and Luiz Gohara and right-handers Mike Soroka, Kyle Wright and Bryse Wilson also will compete for starting jobs. Third baseman Austin Riley may be the reason the Braves were interested in only a one-year deal with Donaldson. Outfielder Cristian Pache, an outstanding defensive player, is the organization’s other top position prospect.THEY’RE SETDefense remains a strong point. The outfield includes 2018 Gold Glove winners Markakis and Inciarte. Acuna, who might eventually move to right field or center field, also is a strong defensive player. Freeman also won a Gold Glove while finishing fourth in the MVP voting. Ozzie Albies, a possible future Gold Glove winner, showed surprising power with 24 homers and is a lock at second base.THEY’RE NOTMike Foltynewicz emerged as an All-Star and No. 1 starter last season, and midseason addition Kevin Gausman helped solidify the middle of the rotation. Otherwise http://www.dodgersfanproshop.com/authentic-max-muncy-jersey , many questions remain in the rotation, especially after Julio Teheran was sent to the bullpen for the playoffs. Young starters unable to go deep into games could put a heavy drain on a bullpen which has its own questions. Arodys Vizcaino’s sore shoulder kept him from handling the full-time closer’s job, while A.J. Minter battled control issues at times.ON DECKBraves pitchers and catchers have their first workout on Feb. 16, and the team’s first full-squad workout is Feb. 21. They plan to move into a new spring training facility in North Port, Florida, near Sarasota, in 2020 and have scheduled their final exhibition game this spring at the new facility on March 24. The Braves open the season on March 28 at Philadelphia. Atlanta’s home opener is April 1 against the Cubs. PHOENIX (AP) — NL MVP Christian Yelich tweeted a GIF of a leaping Moose .The Milwaukee Brewers were excited to know Mike Moustakas likely is sticking around for 2019.Moustakas and the Brewers are nearing a deal that would keep the third baseman in Milwaukee for a guarantee of $10 million, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press on Sunday. The person spoke Sunday on condition of anonymity because the agreement will be subject to a successful physical. The sides were negotiating a deal that includes a mutual option for 2020, the person said.“I’ve known Mikey forever, since he was a little kid,” said Ryan Braun, who like Moustakas grew up and resides in Southern California. “He came here last year, fit in seamlessly, performed for us really well on the field. Obviously Hyun-Jin Ryu Jersey , became a big part of our culture in the locker room as well.Yelich, also a Southern California resident, spent the offseason working out with Braun and Moustakas and also teamed with them to organize relief efforts following last fall’s California’s wildfires.“Great competitor, great teammate, big contributor to us down the stretch,” Yelich said. “It’s good to have him back, and he just brings that edge, that mentality back to the clubhouse, a winning culture and how to play the game the right way. It’s important, and guys like him are important in this game.”Manager Craig Counsell had planned to have Travis Shaw play third and for Hernan Perez, Tyler Saladino and Cory Spangenburg to compete for time at second. Shaw moved across the infield to second after Moustakas was acquired from Kansas City last July.Counsell wants to see during spring training whether Moustakas can transition to second. Shaw said Milwaukee discussed the possibility of bringing Moustakas back with him and that while he hopes to stay at third base, he is willing to move again.“It was kind of a hypothetical situation but now that it’s real, we’ll see what the plan is,” Shaw said. “As of right now http://www.dodgersfanproshop.com/authentic-max-muncy-jersey , I still plan to try to play third base.”Moustakas’ return gives the Brewers another left-handed power threat along with Shaw, Yelich and catcher Yasmani Grandal, a switch-hitter who had 20 home runs and an .844 OPS against right-handers last season.“We faced roughly 120 right-handers and 40 left-handers from a starting pitcher perspective,” Counsell said. “There’s four left-handers in our division, probably, if you map out the rotations. So I think we have some answers left-handed.”Moustakas batted .256 with 8 home runs and 33 RBIs in 54 regular season games for Milwaukee. After going 4 for 11 with two RBIs in the NL Division Series against Colorado, he struck out 12 times in 31 plate appearances during the Championship Series loss to the Dodgers, including the pennant-winning out for Los Angeles.“You kind of got a glimpse of what he did last year for us,” said Brewers center fielder Lorenzo Cain, a former Kansas City teammate. “He’s going to bring leadership and toughness to this team. He has all of that and we all know what he can do on the field. I’ve been around him for a while, so I understand what he can do and what he brings.”
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