Upton is going to fill a huge void left by Michael Bourn in center field and he will also bring some balance to a left-handed heavy batting order.
The Braves will open up the 2013 season at home on April 1 against the division rival Philadelphia Phillies. Here is my prediction on how Fredi Gonzalez may put together his opening day line up with the team he currently has.
2013 Opening Day Line Up:
1. Andrelton Simmons SS
2. Martin Prado 3B
3. Jason Heyward RF
4. B.J. Upton CF
5. Freddie Freeman 1B
6. Dan Uggla 2B
7. Jordan Schafer LF
8. Gerald Laird C
9. Tim Hudson P
As far as starting pitcher is concerned, I see Tim Hudson getting the ball at this point; he led the team in wins (16) and ERA (3.62). He is also very familiar with Phillies' hitters.
Andrelton Simmons will most likely leadoff, the only other candidate is Martin Prado, but I believe him to be a more effective second hitter.
Batting third again this season will definitely be Jason Heyward, I have Upton penciled in to bat fourth because he can split up the left-handed hitters which will move Freeman to bat fifth.
The right-handed Uggla will follow Freeman and bat sixth. The seventh spot in their batting order is one that is the most up in the air. The Braves currently do not have an everyday left fielder and this spot will most likely be filled from outside their current organization.
With their current roster, Jordan Schafer is probably the best fit with Matt Diaz, Jeff Baker, Eric Hinske and Reed Johnson still all being free agents.
Filling in the eighth spot will be Laird, who will most likely fill in for Brian McCann, as he recovers from surgery and of course Hudson will bat ninth.
The Braves will have their hands full on opening day, my guess is they will be facing lefty Cole Hamels or Cliff Lee. It should be an exciting day for Braves fans everywhere.
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