Braves look to improve bench, but willing to go with what they have


LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — If you’re of the opinion that the Braves’ current bench is rather bereft of power, the front office doesn’t disagree. Two weeks before opening day, general manager John Coppolella is still trying to add a hitter.

If the season started now, the Braves would have a four-man bench of catcher Kurt Suzuki and infielder-outfielders Chase d’Arnaud, Jace Peterson and Emilio Bonifacio.

“We’re trying to upgrade the bench,” said Coppolella, who wouldn’t discuss specific possibilities. “It may be that we are unable to. If that’s the case, we’ll just go with what we have. But we are always trying to find ways to get better. We don’t rest, we don’t sleep, we’re trying to get better every day whether it’s up here or down on the farm. We’re always trying to look for ways to make the Braves stronger.”

It’s unclear who remains on the radar among potential bench bats, but the Braves aren’t among teams in discussions with free-agent outfielder Angel Pagan, despite some reports. The Braves had interest in him before spring training, but the asking price was too high at the time — reportedly $5 million — and Emilio Bonifacio’s improved conditioning and performance since camp began played into the decision to pull back from the Pagan pursuit.

The Braves also were known to have varying degrees of interest in former Braves Kelly Johnson and Jeff Francoeur, but weren’t willing to offer the major league contract that each sought. As of Monday, both remained unsigned free agents.



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