2/14/2014 5:46 P.M. ET
Now healthy, Walden looks to return to form
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Jordan Walden arrived in Braves camp this week looking forward to the opportunity to distance himself from the frustration he felt when a groin injury sidelined him down the stretch last year and tainted what had previously been an impressive season.
"This year, everything feels good," Walden said. "We're back to 2011."
As Walden compiled a 2.47 ERA in the 46 appearances he made before straining his groin muscle last August, he looked as dominant as he had in 2011, when he recorded 32 saves for the Angels. After the strain sidelined the right-handed reliever for three weeks, he was never the same.
Walden allowed at least two runs in three of his final four appearances, but still gained a surprising spot on Atlanta's postseason roster. In the two appearances he made during the National League Division Series against the Dodgers, he allowed four earned runs while logging just 2 2/3 innings.
Doumit intends to keep catching in a pinch
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Barring injuries or other unforeseen developments, Ryan Doumit will likely not see much time behind the plate with the Braves this season. But contrary to some speculation that developed a few weeks ago, the versatile utility man has no objection to continue handling the catching duties when asked.
While participating in TwinsFest at Target Field last month, a reporter interpreted a comment made by Twins infielder Brian Dozier to mean that Doumit did not plan to catch again during his career. This set off a chain of events that led to Doumit receiving calls from a number of people, including Dozier and Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez.
"I got a panicked phone call from Fredi," Doumit said. "He was like, 'What am I hearing? I was like, 'I'm hearing the same thing and that's news to me.' But I assure you I have every intention on catching and I want to catch. That was one of those things where somebody's wires got a little crossed. That happens."
During his conversation with an apologetic Dozier, Doumit figured out that the misinterpretations was a result of something he said in late August, when he was struggling to recover from a concussion he had suffered courtesy of a foul tip he took off the catcher's mask a few weeks earlier.
"Dozier called me afterwards and said, 'Dude, I think something got lost in translation or somebody's wires got crossed,'" Doumit said. "Last year, I had a concussion in late August and we were 30 games out with like 25 to go. I was like, 'I'm not going to catch any more. It doesn't make any sense. I can still DH or play the outfield, why even risk that?'"
When the Braves acquired Doumit from the Twins in December, they were excited about the opportunity to add power potential to their bench in the form of a player who can play first base, both corner outfield positions and the catcher's position when necessary.
While Evan Gattis and Gerald Laird will log most of the time behind the plate for Atlanta this year, Doumit's presence as a third catcher could occasionally provide Gonzalez some flexibility to utilize Gattis or Laird as a pinch-hitter when they are not in the lineup. The opportunities to take advantage of this luxury could be limited given the fact that Doumit is expected to serve as one of the club's top pinch-hit options.
Doumit hit .247 with 14 home runs and a career-low .710 OPS while compiling a career-high 538 plate appearances for the Twins last year. The 32-year-old veteran has hit .262 with a .344 on-base percentage and .293 slugging percentage in 125 career plate appearances as a pinch-hitter.
"If you're going to be traded to a National League team, why wouldn't you want to be traded to the Braves?" Doumit said. "Their track record of being a winning organization and a team that goes to the playoffs every year, year in and year out, why wouldn't you want to be a part of that? So, I'm excited to be here."
• Minor League catcher Orrin Sears received a 50-game suspension after testing positive for metabolites of Methandienone, a performance-enhancing substance in violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. Sears is currently on the Gulf Coast League Braves roster.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.