Snitker: Pitcher Blair ‘getting better’


Right-hander Aaron Blair was touted as being close to major-league ready when the Braves acquired him in a December 2015 trade. He didn’t show that during a rough rookie season in 2016, but this spring offers Blair another chance to prove he belongs.

Blair’s results Tuesday at the Phillies weren’t great: three runs allowed over four innings with three strikeouts and a walk. But manager Brian Snitker said Blair, 24, has made strides since last season.

“He’s consciously worked on things, and I think it’s getting better,” Snitker said. “Velocity was a little tick up today. He’s just got to keep pitching, keep working and adjusting. The more experience he gets, the better he’s going to be. We are going to need him again when it boils right down to it.”

Blair most likely will begin the season at Triple-A Gwinnett. But if projected No. 5 starter Mike Foltynewicz falters during the season or an injury leaves a hole in the rotation, then Blair could be first in line for another call-up.

The rough moments for Blair against the Phillies included a hit batter and two triples. But Tyler Goeddel’s two-run triple in the second inning rolled to the wall when right fielder Emilio Bonifacio couldn’t cut it off. The other triple, by Brock Stassi in the third, was a high fly ball that got caught in the strong wind blowing to right and carried all the way to the wall.

Blair’s highlights included retiring the Phillies in order in the fourth inning. Consecutive strikeouts of Goeddel and Cesar Hernandez ended his outing after 67 pitches with 41 strikes.

In 15 starts for the Braves last season Blair posted a 7.59 ERA over 70 innings with 82 hits allowed, including 14 home runs. Blair said he’s made progress since altering his delivery near the end of last season and getting a “different perspective” from new pitching coach Chuck Hernandez.

“I’m a lot more comfortable on the mound,” Blair said. “The slider has become a good weapon for me today. The fastball command is still not quite there but it’s getting there. Every time I go out I feel more comfortable with my delivery and the way things are going.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Atlanta Braves

Braves bullpen: Strange days have found us
Braves bullpen: Strange days have found us

Twenty games into the season, Braves relievers have one of the strangest set of statistics that a bullpen could produce. They are a dichotomy of numbers that demonstrates why this unit can seem close to outstanding one moment and maddeningly frustrating the next. Begin with the fact that Braves relievers entered Sunday with a .197 opponents’...
Jose Bautista could join Braves before much longer
Jose Bautista could join Braves before much longer

The Jose Bautista-to-Atlanta train is picking up steam less than a week after the Braves signed the former All-Star slugger to a minor league deal. Bautista went 1-for-4 with a double and a walk in his second game with high Single-A Florida on Sunday and will join Triple-A Gwinnett on Monday for its doubleheader at Rochester, N.Y. Braves manager Brian...
Gohara works four innings in Triple-A rehab start
Gohara works four innings in Triple-A rehab start

Luiz Gohara had a much better outing in his second rehabilitation start. The Braves’ left-hander worked four innings for Triple-A Gwinnett on Sunday. He gave up two hits and one earned run, a homer, struck out four and walked one for the Stripers in a game at the Pawtucket Red Sox. He allowed just a second-inning home run by Mike Ohlman to left...
Biddle wins in long-awaited debut: A story of perseverance
Biddle wins in long-awaited debut: A story of perseverance

Jesse Biddle finally made it. Eight years after being a first-round draft pick and four years after his last Top-100 prospect ranking. After a litany of ailments and procedures ranging from plantar fasciitis and whooping cough to a torn lat muscle and Tommy John elbow surgery. After 10 different minor-league and winter-league teams ranging from the...
Five things about Braves’ comeback, walk-off win Saturday vs. Mets
Five things about Braves’ comeback, walk-off win Saturday vs. Mets

Ender Inciarte’s bunt single scored Johan Camargo from third base in the ninth inning to give the Braves an improbable, unconventional 4-3 win over the Mets Saturday, their second walk-off win of the season and first since opening day. It was their first walk-off win when the Braves trailed entering the ninth inning since they got two runs in...
More Stories