The Union Recorder

Local Sports

April 2, 2013

Braves' new-look lineup shows power potential

ATLANTA — The Atlanta Braves didn't wait long to show off their new power game.

Home runs by Freddie Freeman, Dan Uggla and newcomer Justin Upton led the Braves to a season-opening 7-5 win over the Philadelphia Phillies on Monday night. The teams, off on Tuesday, will resume the series on Wednesday night.

The impressive debut generated postgame enthusiasm in Atlanta's clubhouse as players talked about the depth of the team's new lineup. The Braves, who added brothers Justin and B.J. Upton in the offseason, showed great promise by leading all National League teams with 49 homers in spring training.

The Braves hit each of their three homers off Phillies ace Cole Hamels.

"Everything kind of fell into place" Monday night, said Justin Upton, who was acquired with third baseman Chris Johnson in a seven-player trade in January which sent Martin Prado, pitcher Randall Delgado and three prospects to Arizona.

Philadelphia's Roy Halladay will face Atlanta's Paul Maholm on Wednesday night.

Johnson, who reached base three times with two hits and a walk on Monday night, will platoon with Juan Francisco at third base. Johnson opened the game with a strong defensive play, charging to scoop a slow grounder hit by Ben Revere before throwing out the speedy leadoff hitter.

Johnson and Francisco face the unenviable task of replacing Hall of Fame-bound Braves legend Chipper Jones, who threw out the first pitch in the opener.

The Braves also must replace former leadoff hitter and center fielder Michael Bourn, who was not re-signed.

B.J. Upton has taken over in center field, with his brother in left field and Jason Heyward in right field. Each of the three has the potential to hit 20 to 30 homers with 20 or more stolen bases.

Freeman led the team with seven homers in spring training, and his two-run shot in the first inning set the pace on Monday night. Uggla added a second-inning homer into the left-field seats.

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