02/15/11 4:55 PM EST
Kawakami will be late arrival to camp
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
Braves general manager Frank Wren said Kawakami could arrive in camp within the next week. The 35-year-old right-hander has resolved the passport and visa issues that delayed his arrival.
After removing Kawakami from their 40-man roster in November, the Braves debated whether they would bring him to their big league camp if they were unable to trade him by the time Spring Training arrived.
The wait led them to apply for the visa later than normal.
"He's in great shape," Wren said. "He'll be fine when he gets here. We're not worried about that."
Kawakami is entering the final year of a three-year, $23 million contract. He has gone 8-20 with a 4.30 ERA in 41 career starts.
Conrad moving forward, not looking back
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Brooks Conrad arrived early for Spring Training with the understanding he would have to answer questions about last year's nightmarish postseason experience. But as the Braves' utility man prepares for a new season, he has made it known he will not allow himself to focus on the past.
"You've got to grow from it and move on," Conrad said. "This is a new year. I know I'm going to get a few questions coming in about it. You've just got to put it past you and get ready for the season."
When Conrad arrived in camp on Tuesday, just before Braves pitchers and catchers staged their first workout, he was sporting a smile that certainly wasn't present after he committed three errors including a decisive ninth inning miscue in a Game 3 of the National League Division Series loss to the Giants.
Forced to serve as the starting second baseman after Martin Prado suffered season-ending injuries -- torn oblique muscle and hip pointer -- on Sept. 27, Conrad ended what had been a memorable season in a defensive nightmare. He committed eight errors in the final eight games he played (including the postseason).
"Yeah, obviously it was a little bit frustrating," Conrad said. "Everybody helped me out through I'm not dwelling on that whole thing I'm just looking forward to this year. "
Conrad will be fighting to keep his role as one of the Braves' utility players. Because he can play the shortstop position, Diory Hernandez is a favorite to notch one of the two utility spots reserved for infielders.
If the Braves determine they need to keep a backup outfielder who can play center field, there might not be a spot open for Conrad. But manager Fredi Gonzalez said Tuesday that he believes Joe Mather could play center if necessary. He added that Jason Heyward could also play the position if the need arose.
Former Braves pitcher John Smoltz was in camp on Tuesday to conduct interviews that will air on MLB Network. Smoltz did one-on-one interviews with Chipper Jones, Brian McCann and manager Fredi Gonzalez. He also sat down to talk with the top four starting pitchers -- Tim Hudson, Derek Lowe, Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrjens. ... Former Braves catcher Javy Lopez will spend the next week as a special instructor in camp. ... Joe Mather, who is projected to win a roster spot as a utility player, arrived in camp on Tuesday.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.