MLB Atlanta Braves

Predicting the Atlanta Braves’ 2014 Opening Day Lineup

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Atlanta Braves' 2014 Opening Day Lineup

Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Braves will shortly be playing their first Spring Training game of the 2014 season against the new-look Detroit Tigers down in Florida. The Braves will set out to repeat as National League East Division Champions and reach the postseason for the third straight year. This summer will be memorable for Braves fans flocking to Cooperstown with three longtime Braves going into the Hall. But as Atlanta prepares for Opening Day, how will they line up in game No. 1 of the 162-game season?

Atlanta will open up at the Milwaukee Brewers on Opening Day. They will likely face off against a right-handed pitcher for the Brew Crew, but how exactly the rotation will stack up will be determined later on in camp. The three likely candidates to get the ball on Opening Day are Kyle Lohse, Yovani Gallardo and new-comer to the staff Matt Garza.

Last season against the Brewers, the Braves were just 2-4, and in their lone visit to Milwaukee they lost two out of the three games. In that three-game set, Atlanta was shutout in two of them. The Braves will need to have the bats ready if they want to get off to a good start this season.

Manager Fredi Gonzalez will be entering his fourth year at the helm of the Braves since taking over for Hall-of-Famer Bobby Cox. Atlanta is one of the few teams where the position battles are pretty much set into place. The only question will be how they will line up in the batting order. Here is a projected lineup for when the Braves take the field.

Nick Schaeflein is a sports writer for Follow him on Twitter @ptchr2424 or add him to your network on Google.

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1. B.J. Upton

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B.J. Upton certainly does not have the batting average for a typical lead-off hitter, but he can be a table-setter with speed for the Braves. He will play center field and bats right-handed.

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2. Jason Heyward

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Jason Heyward will try to stay healthy and cash in on his potential and new contract extension. When Upton is on base, it will give the lefty the hole to hit through and set up the heart of the order. Heyward will play right field and bats left-handed.

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3. Justin Upton

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Justin Upton can hit the ball out of the ballpark, but he will just hope to have more RBI chances this season. He will complete the outfield trio within the first three spots in the order as he will play left field and bats right-handed.

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4. Freddie Freeman

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Freddie Freeman will provide the pop from the left side of the plate. He will complete the Braves' righty, lefty, righty, lefty top part of the order. He will man first base and bats left-handed.

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5. Evan Gattis

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Evan Gattis will take over behind the plate for the departed Brian McCann. The slugger will be able to provide protection for Freeman and can hit the ball out of the park. He will likely be the everyday catcher and bats right-handed.

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6. Dan Uggla

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Dan Uggla can provide the long ball, but the batting average must improve or else playing time could start to decline for the veteran. He will play second base and bats right-handed.

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7. Chris Johnson

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Chris Johnson is kind of the lost man in the lineup. However, he can still provide production down in the order. Johnson will man the hot-corner and bats right-handed.

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8. Andrelton Simmons

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Andrelton Simmons can handle the No. 8 spot in front of the pitcher. He has the ability to get on base in front of a bunt attempt but also drive in runs. He will play shortstop and bats right-handed.

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9. Pitcher's Spot

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The final spot will be the pitcher's spot for the Braves. However, the Opening Day starter is still undecided for Atlanta. The two likely candidates are lefty Mike Minor and righty Kris Medlen.