MLB

Braves’ Vaughn Grissom gets extra work for move to shortstop

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ATLANTA — The Braves‘ commitment to giving Vaughn Grissom a chance to win the starting job at shortstop can’t be questioned.

The Braves, who must replace Dansby Swanson, first scheduled Grissom for three offseason visits with third-base coach Ron Washington for intense fielding drills, each lasting at least one week.

On Saturday, manager Brian Snitker said he hasn’t even considered giving Grissom the chance to compete for playing time in left field this spring. Snitker and the Braves want Grissom to spend all his time at shortstop.

Then, Grissom was included with other prominent players made available to reporters at the Braves Fest for fans Saturday. Projected starters at every position other than left field took turns in the media interview room. Grissom was the only shortstop on the list.

Grissom started 39 games at second base as the fill-in for the injured Ozzie Albies and only one game at shortstop last season. At 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, Grissom has a big build for a shortstop, and some doubt his defense will be strong enough to hold the job.

He hit .271 with eight homers and 32 RBIs in 251 at-bats last season, exhausting his rookie status.

Washington, the 70-year-old former Texas Rangers manager respected for his defensive drills, volunteered for the offseason work with Grissom and has assured the Braves that he’ll have Grissom ready by the start of the season.

“That’s probably one of the most valuable pieces I have in my life right now, being able to bounce stuff off him,” Grissom said of Washington.

Said Snitker: “[Washington] was like, ‘Let me have that kid for three different times.’ It was great Vaughn took the time out of his winter and went down there and saw the value in it. It will be good. He’s definitely going to have a leg up getting to spring training and having all of that.”

Washington and Grissom already have held two weeklong training sessions in New Orleans. One more week of drills is planned before Braves pitchers and catchers report for spring training in North Port, Florida, on Feb. 13, followed by position players three days later.

The 22-year-old Grissom will compete with Orlando Arcia to replace Swanson, who signed a $177 million, seven-year deal with the Chicago Cubs.

Snitker left open the possibility that Grissom and Arcia could share the job.

“We’re going to be fine,” Snitker said. “We’ll use the sum of our parts to make it happen. I think that’s two really good options we could probably team up and not abuse either one of those guys and have a really good product.”

In other news, RHP Mike Soroka, attempting a comeback from his second torn right Achilles tendon, said he expects to have no restrictions at the start of spring training. He’ll compete for the No. 5 spot in the rotation.



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