10/3/2013 8:49 P.M. ET
Varvaro, Downs notable omissions from roster
By Mark Bowman and Eric Single / MLB.com
ATLANTA -- The fact that the Braves' highest-paid player this season would not see the field in the National League Division Series dominated the conversation of Wednesday's workouts before Game 1. But Dan Uggla was far from the only notable omission from the Braves' 25-man NLDS roster.
Also missing were relievers Anthony Varvaro and Scott Downs, two key contributors to the bullpen's MLB-best 2.46 ERA in the regular season. Varvaro's 62 appearances in 2013 trail only lefty Luis Avilan and closer Craig Kimbrel for the team lead, but he became the victim of a numbers game when manager Fredi Gonzalez determined the Braves needed a true long-relief option in the event of an extra-innings marathon.
"We could carry 11 pitchers, but we didn't really have a long guy, and I think with David Hale, he gives us that long guy with the chance of those extra innings," Gonzalez said. He's a guy that's thrown five to six innings here just a couple weeks ago, so that's the reason for that."
Alex Wood's return to the bullpen supplied Gonzalez with an extra left-handed option at the expense of Downs, who was acquired from the Angels just before the non-waiver Trade Deadline. Initially regarded as a specialized weapon against left-handers to spell Avilan's workload over the final two months of the season, Downs' appeal as a roster piece waned when left-handers went 9-for-13 off him in September. Gonzalez also trusts right-hander Jordan Walden as a third option against lefties now that Walden is recovered from a nagging groin injury that bothered him for most of September.
Uggla's absence skews the balance of outfielders and infielders among the 14 position players on Atlanta's NLDS roster. Reed Johnson, B.J. Upton, Jose Constanza and Jordan Schafer are available as defensive replacements for Evan Gattis in left field in addition to any pinch-hitting and pinch-running assignments, but only Paul Janish has the ability to play all three infield positions off the bench. According to Gonzalez, the Braves have already drawn up contingency plans in case their infield depth is stretched thin by injuries or extra innings.
"The only thing you don't have covered is if something happens in the 11th or 12th inning and you bring in Janish to replace Chris Johnson, and something happens, somebody rolls an ankle," Gonzalez said. "Then we have to scramble a little bit, and we've made some plans for that also. [Gerald] Laird can play third base, and then you can move some stuff around, and that's all fine and dandy if we haven't used Laird as a pinch-hitter. You try to cover everything, but there's that unknown that you hope you have everything covered."
Of the four reserve outfielders, Gonzalez said Upton and Schafer were his primary options to replace Gattis, who remains a defensive liability in left field despite 47 starting assignments there during the regular season.
Uggla 'blindsided' by being left off NLDS roster
ATLANTA -- Dan Uggla has had time to deal with the anger he has felt since learning the Braves would not include him on their roster for the National League Division Series against the Dodgers. But that does not mean he has come any closer to understanding the decision.
"I'm not blind to my numbers," Uggla said. "I know what they are, but at the same time, I know what I've done in my career and I still know what I'm capable of doing. So I was kind of blindsided by it."
Uggla walked away from manager Fredi Gonzalez and general manager Frank Wren when they were informing him of the decision after Tuesday's workout at Turner Field. The veteran second baseman avoided reporters after Wednesday's workout, but chose to express his feelings as he and his Braves teammates were taking batting practice before Game 1 on Thursday night.
Though he is not on the roster, Uggla will be in uniform and with the Braves throughout this best-of-five series against the Dodgers. He could be added to the roster if a position player is injured during the NLDS. The injured player would be ineligible for the NL Championship Series.
"When something bad happens to you, your first reaction is anger," Uggla said. "Once that calms down, you can start thinking rationally. I didn't want to come [to Wednesday's workout]. But I knew it was the right thing to do. You don't feel part of the group. But once you get past that, calm down and realize your teammates still love you, it's whatever."
Uggla battled vision problems while hitting .179 -- the lowest batting average recorded by a qualified player since 1900 -- with 22 home runs and a .362 slugging percentage, which is the lowest mark produced by a player during a 20-homer season in baseball history.
After Uggla underwent LASIK surgery in August, the Braves brought him back with the hope he would start proving to be more consistent. But after Uggla hit .133 with a .366 on-base percentage in his first 41 plate appearances after the procedure, he found himself serving as a backup to Elliot Johnson, who enters the playoffs as Atlanta's starting second baseman.
Uggla ended up hitting .133 with 25 strikeouts and a .508 OPS in the 77 plate appearances he compiled after undoing the LASIK procedure. His strikeout rate (one every 3.08 plate appearances) was essentially the same as the NL-worst 3.14 mark he produced over the course of the entire season.
"It's disappointing, and then to not even have any kind of say in it," Uggla said. "It's hard for me with my numbers. I've had a great career so far. I know what I'm still capable of. I can change at any point in time. That's just the kind of player I am."
Fredi not a fan of start times for NLDS
ATLANTA -- Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez provided a comical response when he was asked about the 8:37 p.m. ET start time for Game 1 of the National League Division Series.
"This is being recorded, so I can't tell you exactly," Gonzalez said. "You know, it is what it is. You can't make everybody happy with the starts and that kind of stuff."
The Braves and Dodgers will actually start a little earlier than normal in Game 2, which is scheduled to begin at 6:07 p.m. on Friday. Sunday's Game 3 at Dodger Stadium will begin at 8:07 p.m., which is a 5:07 p.m. PT local start.
"If it was up to me, we'd play at 1 [p.m.] and nobody in the stands and my team against your team, and we'll keep score, and we'll call balls and strikes and just play baseball," Gonzalez said. "But that's not going to happen."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. Eric Single is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.