Early arriving Inciarte could be speedier than ever


Ender Inciarte reported to spring training five days early, the Braves’ Gold Glove center fielder figuring he was already working out nearby so why not come to camp Tuesday on reporting day for pitchers and catchers.

He didn’t try to downplay his excitement about 2018 despite the rebuilding Braves riding a streak of three consecutive seasons with at least 90 losses.

“I think everybody is ready to see us winning,” said Inciarte, joining fellow outfielder Lane Adams as the earliest-arriving position players besides catchers. “We’re a very young team, but we have a lot of talent on the team also, so hopefully this year’s going to be different and we’re going be able to surprise a lot of people and start playing playoff games.

“I’ve never played in the playoffs and I’m ready for it.”

Inciarte, 27, worked out in the offseason with speed coach Tom Shaw at the Wide World of Sports Complex, where the Braves have spring training. He’s coming off a career-best season, but is eager to continue improving any way he can, and speed is an area where Inciarte has room to grow.

He took his performance to new levels in his fourth major league season in 2017, setting career-bests in average (.304), OBP (.350), slugging percentage (.409), stolen bases (22) and home runs with 11, only two fewer homers than Inciarte hit in his previous three seasons combined.

But for a player as fast as he is, stealing 22 bases in 31 attempts wasn’t nearly what some believe he’s capable of doing with better technique. To that end, the Braves have reason for optimism after adding Eric Young Sr. as first-base coach and base-running and outfield instructor. 

Young, a 50-year-old former outfielder and second baseman, had 465 stolen bases in a 15-year career, including three seasons with more than 50. He led the National League with 53 in 1996 with the Rockies, hitting .324 with an .814 OPS in an All-Star season.

Inciarte was a Diamondbacks minor-leaguer when Young was Arizona’s first-base coach during 2010-12.

“I met him when I was with the Diamondbacks; he’s a great guy, a great baseball guy,” Inciarte said. “He has so much baseball knowledge and for guys like me, in the outfield and in base running, I always try to listen to whatever he says because I know he can help me. I’m just real happy to have him here and hopefully he can help everybody on the team.”


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Atlanta Braves

Braves-Nationals game postponed; makeup date TBD
Braves-Nationals game postponed; makeup date TBD

Saturday’s Braves-Nationals game was postponed because of inclement weather, the Nationals announced roughly five hours before the scheduled 7:05 p.m. start. Sean Newcomb was set to face Gio Gonzalez in the second meeting of a three-game set. The Braves won Friday night 8-5, behind an offensive outburst from leadoff man Ronald Acuna. Mike Foltynewicz...
Braves’ Ronald Acuna looks right at home in leadoff spot
Braves’ Ronald Acuna looks right at home in leadoff spot

Ronald Acuna captured the imaginations of Braves fans Friday night, showcasing the five-tool potential that made him baseball’s top prospect. Acuna reached base four times, including a double and a homer, and added two steals in an 8-5 win in Washington; one that dropped the Nationals below .500 at 48-49. The Braves have tried and failed with...
Offense, leadoff hitter Acuna push Braves past Nationals
Offense, leadoff hitter Acuna push Braves past Nationals

Maybe the Braves’ offense really did need the All-Star break. Or just Ronald Acuna hitting leadoff. In their first game back, the bats tagged Stephen Strasburg for six runs, and the Braves beat the Nationals 8-5 Friday at Nationals Park. Braves manager Brian Snitker decided to hit Acuna first in the order, the latest attempt to solve the...
Ozzie Albies exits early in Friday’s Braves game
Ozzie Albies exits early in Friday’s Braves game

Second baseman Ozzie Albies exited the Braves’ 8-5 win over the Nationals Friday in the third inning. Albies sustained a right-hamstring injury after doubling in the first inning. He then stole third and scored on a Freddie Freeman ground out. The Braves announced he left the game as a precaution. “He’s OK. The right hamstring was...
Zach Britton, Braves could be fit - depending upon price
Zach Britton, Braves could be fit - depending upon price

The Braves are back in a pennant race, and it’s no secret they’re looking for bullpen help. Rumors will rev up with the trade deadline 11 days away. The Orioles already sold the market’s most coveted asset, star Manny Machado, sending him to the Dodgers for five players, only one of whom was a top 100 prospect. That shouldn&rsquo...
More Stories