The Braves take the field against the division-rival Nationals for an exhibition game, but this is not your typical spring training contest for two specific reasons.
Austin Riley will get his first opportunity to play the outfield in a game, starting in left field, and Johan Camargo will be in a similar situation playing right field.
.@KevinGausman takes the mound today vs. the Nationals!#BravesST pic.twitter.com/ekN858HV8m
— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) March 13, 2019
A widely unpopular move to many – the Braves opted to stick with their outfield core rather than upgrade for some more offensive power this offseason. As a result, Johan Camargo, who is now a super-utility player, and Austin Riley have emerged as possible options in the outfield if Nick Markakis or Ender Inciarte begin to falter offensively.
Riley’s power bat makes him the most intriguing possibility, but two things have to happen for that to become a reality. He must prove he is ready for the majors altogether and show he can play the outfield. Josh Donaldson isn’t going anywhere at the hot corner, and with Camargo around, the left side of the infield already has a logjam. Riley’s arm and youthful athleticism are promising attributes for a left-fielder, and today, the Braves will have the opportunity to see first-hand if he has what it takes.
My hunch: If Matt Kemp could play left-field for the Braves, Austin Riley will be just fine.
Camargo has showcased his elite defensive skills on the infield in his two seasons in Atlanta. He has an absolute cannon for an arm, but it will be worth watching how he moves around out there. If both him and Riley appear flawless in their outfield debuts, it will give Brian Snitker a handful of options to work with when putting together the lineup.
The game will take place at 1:05 ET.