ATLANTA -- Having tried out veteran Livan Hernandez and rookie Cory Gearrin, the Braves have settled on Anthony Varvaro as the seventh member of their bullpen during the last couple weeks.
Since being recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett on June 13, Varvaro has appeared in four games. The right-hander has pitched 6 1/3 innings, striking out eight batters and walking four. But until Tuesday night against the D-backs, he had not put together a scoreless outing. Varvaro got the final three outs of the Braves' 8-1 victory, allowing one hit and striking out one batter.
Manager Fredi Gonzalez said he has quickly grown to trust Varvaro to get outs.
"You see a guy that you've got more confidence in, 'Here it is, go pitch,'" Gonzalez said. "I see a guy that you feel comfortable with using him in situations."
Freeman displays opposite-field power
ATLANTA -- Braves hitting coach Greg Walker was among those encouraged to see Freddie Freeman record a pair of opposite-field hits during his three-hit performance against the D-backs on Tuesday night.
"I think it is good, because that is his strength," Walker said. "He's got massive oppo-power, probably more than anybody I've ever coached, other than maybe [Jim] Thome."
Freeman did not necessarily display this power with any opposite-field home runs or shots to the right-center field gap. But in lining a second-inning double down the left-field line and lacing a single to right in the third inning, the 22-year-old first baseman gave an indication that he was seeing the baseball well and feeling comfortable with his swing.
The Braves are hoping Freeman will start realizing the same success that he had while batting .298 with a .320 on-base percentage and .544 slugging percentage through his first 28 games this year. After winning two National League Player of the Week Awards within the season's first five weeks, he spent most of the next month battling vision problems.
When Freeman finally solved his vision problems, he got hit with a Jose Reyes throw and spent most of this month's first three weeks battling a sore left index finger. But Tuesday's game might have signaled the end of this frustrating stretch.
"When he's healthy and he's got his timing back and everything, I expect him to do what he did last night," Walker said. "That didn't surprise me a bit. He's that good."
Bourn showing off newfound power stroke
ATLANTA -- After a leadoff home run in Tuesday's 8-1 victory against the D-backs, Braves center fielder Michael Bourn has a career-high seven home runs just 73 games into the season. In fact, more than a third of his 20 career home runs have come since May 12.
But Bourn isn't suddenly thinking of himself as a power hitter. He said he hasn't asked Matt Kemp, the National League Home Run Derby captain, to consider him for a spot in the competition.
"I'm not in that league," Bourn said. "That's not for me."
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said he doesn't think of Bourn as just a singles hitter, despite his .369 career slugging percentage.
"I think he has a pretty good baseball swing," Gonzalez said. "And he's a strong kid. You get him in the wheelhouse, he can run you out of the ballpark. He's not going to be one of those guys that chops the ball and runs."