LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Despite the fact that Jordan Walden missed a month of the Grapefruit League season because of a bulging disk in his back, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez has repeatedly said the right-handed reliever could be in his bullpen during Monday's Opening Day game against the Phillies.
If Walden begins the season on the disabled list, Anthony Varvaro and Cristhian Martinez will likely fill the final two available spots in Atlanta's bullpen. But if the Braves are truly confident Walden will be ready for the start of the regular season, then they have plenty of reason to attempt to trade either Varvaro or Martinez by the end of this week.
Because Varvaro and Martinez are both out of options, they would have to pass through waivers before being sent to the Minor League level. Both right-handed relievers would likely be claimed by another club through the process, which does not provide the compensation the Braves would receive via a trade.
Martinez has the advantage of having proven his ability to work multiple innings in various situations while serving as Atlanta's long reliever the past two seasons. But Varvaro has made a strong case for himself while not allowing a run in nine of his 11 spring appearances.
Making his first multi-inning appearance of the year in Monday's 7-4 loss to the Mets, Varvaro worked a scoreless sixth inning and then surrendered two hits and a run in the seventh. He had worked six consecutive scoreless innings since the Tigers scored five runs and seven hits in one inning on March 7.
"[Monday's] outing has no bearing on him making the team, because he has had some pretty good outings," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
Braves assign Terdoslavich, more to Minors camp
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- One year after his defensive struggles killed the possibility of him serving as Chipper Jones' successor at third base, Joey Terdoslavich has made himself into an adequate corner outfielder whose switch-hitting skills could find him on the Braves' bench at some point this year.
Terdoslavich's successful stint during this year's big league camp came to a close when the Braves assigned him, infielder Blake DeWitt and outfielder Jordan Parraz to Minor League camp on Monday morning. Each of these players will likely begin the season with Triple-A Gwinnett.
The only 40-man roster member included in this latest round of cuts was highly regarded catching prospect Christian Bethancourt, who was optioned to Double-A Mississippi.
"I knew it was going to be really, really tough for me to make the team," Terdoslavich said. "Now I've just got to go down, get my at-bats and continue to build on what I started here."
Terdoslavich batted .395 (17-for-43) with four doubles and a home run in 26 Grapefruit League games. More importantly, he showed some of the defensive skills he developed as he spent this winter developing his abilities as an outfielder while working out with his former high school team.
"I told him how impressed I was that he was able to pick up outfield play and also play first base," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "I was impressed that he was able to do that."
Terdoslavich's days as a third baseman essentially ended when he committed 22 errors in 50 games with Gwinnett during the first two months of the 2012 season. The defensive struggles combined with a .180 batting average led to a demotion to Mississippi, where he primarily played first base and hit .315 with a .852 OPS in 78 games.
"I feel like I'm a lot more prepared for the season," Terdoslavich said. "I know what to expect and I'm really looking forward to it."
Bethancourt is a top candidate to serve as Atlanta's starting catcher after Brian McCann makes his likely exit via free agency this winter. But the strong-armed 21-year-old catcher, who hit .133 in just 15 Grapefruit League at-bats, will first have to develop his suspect offensive skills. He batted .243 with two home runs while playing just 71 games during an injury-plagued season with Mississippi last year.
"It's a short trip from Mississippi to the big leagues," Gonzalez said. "He can catch and throw. I think he can hit. You see improvement as he continues to get bigger and stronger."
Minor feels good despite recent results
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Kris Medlen and Mike Minor ranked first and second among National League pitchers in ERA after June 30 last year. Over the course of the past week, the two Braves pitchers have provided the reminder that Spring Training results do not serve as an indication of what to expect during the regular season.
One day after Medlen endured his second straight rough outing, Minor followed suit during Monday afternoon's 7-4 loss to the Mets at Champion Stadium. He surrendered six hits, including three home runs, and allowed five runs in five innings.
"I feel good," Minor said. "I feel like I've grown up a lot from last year. If that happened last year, then I would be pretty [upset], with my head down and thinking it was over. I have a lot of confidence and I feel good going into the season."
Minor seemingly turned the corner last year when he produced a 6.20 ERA in his first 15 starts and a 2.21 ERA in the 15 starts that followed. That stretch provided him a sense of confidence that has not been damaged by the fact that he has allowed 14 runs in the 14 innings he has completed since entering the fifth inning of his March 14 outing against the Cardinals with a streak of 12 consecutive scoreless innings.
Minor's struggles in his past two starts have been influenced by his attempt to test the two-seam fastball that he has been trying to develop since the start of Spring Training. After he struggled to command the pitch while throwing it throughout the three-run first inning on Monday, Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell told him to limit his development of the pitch to side sessions between starts.
"I just wanted to throw it the last couple of starts to see if I could put that in my arsenal as the season progresses," Minor said.
Minor's final Spring Training appearance will come on Saturday when he starts for the Braves in an exhibition game against the organization's top Minor League players at Double-A Mississippi's Trustmark Park. His first scheduled regular-season start is set for April 5 against the Cubs.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.