You expect some aches and pains during spring training. But this situation with Byrd is worrisome. He’s certainly not going to be ready to start the season… Perhaps even worse news is that Bobby indeed is leaning towards going with 12 pitchers to start the season. It’s dumb, but he (like most managers) is paranoid about being caught short a pitcher. So he carries an extra pitcher who won’t get used except in blowouts and 15-inning games rather than a pinch-hitter who can avoid getting into 15-inning games.
If Byrd is out for an extended period, that would be good news for whoever the “fifth” starter is, presumably Horacio Ramirez. I’m convinced that Kevin Millwood developed because he got regular work as a rookie when John Smoltz was hurt, unlike most of the Braves rookie fifth starters.
If my calculations are correct, the Braves will need to clear two or three spots on the 40-man roster for players currently on Richmond’s roster — Julio Franco, Darren Bragg, and maybe Jesse Garcia. (There are also more remote possibilities, like Bo Porter, Donzell McDonald, and Ramon Castro.) That would mean (if I understand the rules correctly) three men currently on the Atlanta roster would have to be released or go through waivers, or go on the 60-day DL. I think cutting Vinny Castilla would be a good way to clear one spot, but that’s not going to happen. The Braves could try to swing a trade using one of the young arms like Trey Hodges, but they rarely trade advanced prospects for young prospects… It’s not unusual for this numbers crunch to happen. If I recall correctly, the Braves needed four spots — for Franco, Bragg, Darren Holmes, and Chris Hammond — last year.