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18.04.2019 04:40
ATLANTA (AP) — Ronald Acuna Jr. helped Antworten

the Atlanta Braves accelerate their rebuilding schedule in 2018 , 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 Manuel Margot 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 , 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. Matthew Stockman/Getty ImagesThe Arizona Diamondbacks (79-74) will make a last-ditch effort at putting themselves in position for one of the final playoff spots in the National League on Friday when they host the Colorado Rockies (82-70) as small home favorites at sportsbooks.The Diamondbacks are five games back in the race for the final wild-card berth and six behind the Los Angeles Dodgers for the NL West lead with the Rockies 3.5 ahead. MLB betting line: The Diamondbacks opened as -135 favorites (wager $135 to win $100); the total is at seven runs, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark. (Line updates and matchup report)MLB betting pick, via OddsShark computer: 5.6-2.4, Rockies (MLB picks on every game)Check out the OddsShark podcast on iTunes or at for more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week top sports betting news.Why the Rockies can pay on the MLB linesColorado saw its division lead disappear after getting swept in three games by Los Angeles earlier this week. Now the Rockies trail the Dodgers by 2.5 games, but they are also just 1.5 out of the last wild-card spot.The good news is that Colorado has won seven of the past nine meetings with Arizona, according to the OddsShark MLB Database, after taking three of four at Coors Field early last week. The Rockies will send 23-year-old Venezuelan German Marquez (12-10 Austin Hedges Jersey , 3.96 ERA) to the hill in this key spot, and he has gone an impressive 7-4 with a 2.94 ERA on the road this season.Why the Diamondbacks can pay on the MLB linesThe Diamondbacks will go with their ace Zack Greinke (14-10, 3.20 ERA) here knowing what is on the line this weekend, starting with the series opener.Greinke has gone a perfect 3-0 with a 2.77 ERA in four starts versus Colorado this year. In fact, the last victory he earned came at Coors on September 11, as he allowed three runs and six hits to the Rockies in 6.2 innings of a 6-3 win with no walks and five strikeouts. Arizona simply cannot afford to lose this game, and he is also 6-3 with a 2.43 ERA at home. Smart betting pickDespite some recent struggles in this series overall, the Diamondbacks have still won six of the previous nine meetings at Chase Field, going 3-3 in six earlier this year. Greinke will be pitching this game like a must-win situation, which it essentially is. Look for Arizona to come out strong and win easily Friday to pull closer to a playoff spot. MLB betting trendsColorado is 1-5 in its last six games.The total has gone under in five of Colorado's last six games on the road.Arizona is 6-3 in its last nine games when playing at home against Colorado. All MLB odds and betting trends according to Bleacher Report official odds partner, OddsShark. Check out OddsShark on Twitter and Instagram or head to YouTube for more betting picks and analysis on this week's top games. You can also download the free odds tracker app.

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