March 2012

Spring Training Interview: Craig Kimbrel

As mentioned in my earlier post today, I had the pleasure of catching up with former Gwinnett Braves closer and reigning National League Rookie of the Year, Braves’ right-hander Craig Kimbrel today at Champion Stadium.

In the audio interview, Craig talks about what Spring Training is like for him this time around, how the 2010 season in Gwinnett prepared him for MLB success, finishing 1-2 in R.O.Y. voting with fellow former G-Brave Freddie Freeman, the tremendous set-up work of Eric O’Flaherty and Jonny Venters, his thoughts on 2011 International League Rookie of the Year Julio Teheran, coming back to Coolray Field for April 3’s “Braves All-Stars vs. Future Stars Game” and more.

Listen Here:  Craig Kimbrel Interview 3.10.12

You can see Craig and the rest of the Atlanta Braves as they take on the future stars of the organization at Coolray Field on Tuesday, April 3 at 7:05 PM.  For tickets, call the Coolray Field Box Office at 678-277-0340.


Braves Spring Training, Day 2

I’m back in press row for today’s Braves vs. New York Yankees game, scheduled for 1:05 PM.  It’s set to be one of the busiest days of the Spring here at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex with not only a huge crowd expected here at Champion Stadium but also a major Cheerleading/Dance competition going on next door.

The Braves fell to 1-7 on the Grapefruit League season with losses in each of their split-squad games yesterday, including a 5-3 loss to the New York Mets.  Randall Delgado was tagged for three runs, two earned over 3.0 innings in his second outing of the Spring, while Rule 5 selection Robert Fish surrendered two runs in relief in the eighth to take the loss.  Martin Prado went 3-for-4 with a pair of ground-rule doubles.  Julio Teheran fared better than Delgado against the Yankees in Tampa, allowing an earned run over 3.0 innings in what was still the losing cause.

I’ve been out at Champion Stadium since 7:45 today, checking things off my Spring Training “to-do” list.  I was able to meet the Gwinnett coaching staff for the first time today and sat down with manager Dave Brundage for an interview previewing the season.  I’m planning on saving that interview for my 2012 Preview in the first edition of our gameday program, “Tomahawk Talk”.  Look for that at Coolray Field in April.

I also caught up with the reigning National League Rookie of the Year, former G-Brave and current Braves closer, Craig Kimbrel.  I’ll post that audio interview with Craig once I get a chance to listen to it in quieter conditions.

It’s getting fairly noisy here now as the starting lineups for the Yankees and Braves are introduced.  Both Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira are in the lineup for New York, but no sign of Derek Jeter.

As for the Braves, here’s the lineup:  Michael Bourn (CF), Martin Prado (LF), Brian McCann (DH), Dan Uggla (2B), Chipper Jones (3B), Freddie Freeman (1B), Tyler Pastornicky (SS), J.C. Boscan (C), Jose Constanza (RF), Jair Jurrjens (SP).

And, in closing, some pictures from today:

Prado, Jones, McCann and Hinske around the cage this morning.

Braves' manager Fredi Gonzalez.

Chipper Jones and Freddie Freeman converse in the dugout.

2011 G-Brave Cory Gearrin and fellow pitchers Dusty Hughes and Zeke Spruill.

Ernesto Mejia has been a popular target for interviews these last two days.

Yankees' manager Joe Girardi and the legendary Dale Murphy.

Speaking of legends, Andy Pettitte threw a round of Yankees' BP today.

As hopefully you did yesterday, follow along with my game tweets at @DaveLezotte and re-tweets at @GwinnettBraves.  It’s back home to Lawrenceville, GA tomorrow!


Greetings from Champion Stadium

It’s the first-ever “G-Blog On Location” if you will, as I write to you from the slightly damp Champion Stadium pressbox at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, FL.  I’m taking in my first Atlanta Braves Spring Training game today, a split-squad tilt vs. the New York Mets that’s scheduled for 1:05 PM.

Scheduled is the key word.  We had a sudden rain storm pass through that seemed to catch everyone off-guard, including myself as I rushed to move out of the first row of press seating.  The grounds crew is currently working on fixing up a large puddle on the left side of the diamond, where Chipper Jones and Andrelton Simmons are slated to be this afternoon.

Here’s a few photos I’ve taken already today:

A view of Champion Stadium from the press box.

Checking out the first BP group from the Braves' dugout.

2011 G-Braves outfielder Stefan Gartrell signs autographs.

Ernesto imposing figure. Love the way the ball came off his bat today in BP. Might we see him in Gwinnett?

Here’s a look at the Braves’ lineup for today:  Andrelton Simmons (SS), Martin Prado (DH), Brian McCann (C), Dan Uggla (2B), Chipper Jones (3B), Eric Hinske (1B), Jason Heyward (RF), Stefan Gartrell (LF), Todd Cunningham (CF), Randall Delgado (SP).

Personally, I’m excited to see Gartrell in action after all I’ve read about his 2011 campaign in Gwinnett.  I’m also intrigued to get my first look at Simmons, the #4 prospect in the Braves’ system according to Baseball America.  Plus, I’ll get a first-hand view of Delgado, who throws for the first time since a forgettable first Spring outing against Detroit on March 4.  It looks like we’ll be ready to get underway here shortly.

I’ll likely be tweeting throughout the game at my personal account, @DaveLezotte and re-tweeting through @GwinnettBraves.  Feel free to check in throughout what should now be a gorgeous day for baseball here in Lake Buena Vista.


Coming Up At Coolray Field

(Photo courtesy of Kyle Hess)

Hello and welcome once again to the G-Blog. My name is Tony Piraro and I will be one of three contributors to the G-Blog this season. We’re looking forward to a wonderful season as we offer you an all-access pass to the Gwinnett Braves in 2012.

The Coolray Field Box Office began selling individual game tickets for the 2012 regular season on Monday, March 5.  Fans can purchase tickets by phone (678.277.0340), internet or by coming down to the Coolray Field Box Office. Every regular season game is available, including individual tickets for the “Atlanta Braves All-Stars vs. Future Stars Game” at Coolray Field on April 3.

Ticket Sales Manager Ryan Moore is prepared to make this a season to remember for G-Braves ticketholders. When fans purchase tickets to the “Atlanta Braves All-Stars vs. Future Stars Game,” they become eligible for an extra game.

“The Braves All-Stars vs. Future Stars Combo Pack is a way to get tickets to both that game and Opening Day,” said Moore. “You can add either the Gwinnett Braves Opening Day or the Atlanta Braves April 14 game against the Brewers.”

It’s already becoming very busy around Coolray Field, as a host of events are set to get underway this week. Coolray Field will play host to a collegiate baseball game on Tuesday, March 6 between the University of Georgia and Kennesaw State University. The game will begin at 7:00 PM. The Bulldogs are currently ranked No. 15 in the country with a 10-2 overall record this season. Georgia was actually ranked as high as No. 9 in the nation before suffering their first two losses of 2012 last week.

On Friday, March 9, the G-Braves will host a Job Shadow Day. North Gwinnett, Duluth and Dacula High School will all participate in the event at Coolray Field from 9:00 AM to 1:30 PM. Sports Marketing Classes and DECA students will have a rare opportunity to witness how a professional sports organization is run. Students will be able to follow front office staff members around the ballpark for an exclusive look inside G-Braves baseball. I personally will be showing around students who are interested in venturing down the Media Relations avenue.

Last, but certainly not least is 2012 Fan Fest on Saturday, March 10 at Coolray Field. The festivities will begin at 10:00 AM and will conclude at 1:00 PM. Activities will include National Athem auditions, a merchandise sidewalk sale, ballpark tours, family-fun and much more. Fans will also have the chance to purchase G-Braves tickets to all games including the April 3 “Atlanta Braves All-Stars vs. Future Stars Game.” Spring is definitely in the air, so don’t be stuck out in the cold.

-Tony Piraro

Welcome to the G-Blog

Welcome to the G-Blog, the new official team blog of the Gwinnett Braves!  We are the Triple-A International League affiliate of the Atlanta Braves, based out of Coolray Field in Lawrenceville, GA.  This blog will feature an inside look at all things G-Braves throughout the 2012 season and beyond.  Expect to see plenty of pictures and videos, audio interviews and highlights, feature stories and more. 

For those that already follow the G-Braves, you’re still likely unfamiliar with two of the three authors that will be updating this blog.  First off, I’m Dave Lezotte, blog administrator and the Media Relations Manager for the Gwinnett Braves.  My assistant, Tony Piraro, will also be chipping in with regular updates.  Finally, we’ll be joined by the radio voice of the Gwinnett Braves, Tony Schiavone as he checks in often with updates from Coolray Field and the road.

You already know Mr. Schiavone from three seasons as the play-by-play voice of the G-Braves on WDUN, but here’s a little background on myself and Tony: 

I joined the organization in November after spending the last six seasons as the Director of Broadcasting and Media Relations for the Clinton LumberKings, class A Midwest League affiliate of the Seattle Mariners.  While with the LumberKings, I served as the play-by-play radio broadcaster and also authored “The LumberBlog“, a surprisingly-successful team blog that consistently ranked in the MLBlogs’ ProBlogs Top 100.  In addition to my time traveling throughout the Midwest League, I’ve also gained experience in a Major League setting with the Milwaukee Brewers.  I started with the Brewers’ Grounds Crew at old Milwaukee County Stadium in 2000 and worked part-time in that capacity through 2005.  From 2003-2005, I moved off the field and up to the Miller Park press box as the research intern for television broadcasters Daron Sutton and Bill Schroeder.  I’ve also spent one off-season in ticket sales for the Brewers.  Yes, you’ve read correctly, every job I’ve ever worked has been in professional baseball.  Tony Piraro, meanwhile, comes to Gwinnett after two years as the radio broadcaster and Assistant Director of Media Relations for the Southern Illinois Miners of the independent Frontier League.

This blog will be fan interactive, so any questions or comments you may have are welcome in the “Comments” section below.  You can email us as well at and  And finally, you can always follow along with the G-Braves on our official Twitter handle, @GwinnettBraves.

Once again, welcome to the G-Blog.  Enjoy your stay.  Tell your friends.