Kevin McAlpin Is On Josh Donaldson Watch From Orlando

I can’t recall a simulated game on a back field in early March with more attention than the one I watched on Wednesday morning at the Braves complex at Disney. Josh Donaldson, who has yet to be a participant in a lineup for Atlanta was seen going through the paces on Field Four. It certainly drew a lot more attention than normal, and Donaldson didn’t disappoint. Prior to going through game type situations, Donaldson was seen doing sprints in right field and appeared to be moving extremely well. You’ll recall, Donaldson was slowed by a calf issue for the majority of the 2018 season, but appeared to be moving well without any restrictions.

When he got his turn at the plate, Donaldson had three at bats, reaching with a single, double and wrapping things up with a homer to left center in his final AB. Barring any unforeseen setbacks, Donnaldson is lined up to start Friday evening’s contest against the Phillies at Disney, following a team day off on Thursday.

While it’s hard to get a good grasp on how a guy is feeling in simulated action, it was encouraging to see Donaldson with some pop in the bat, and running the bases. A few days ago, Alex Anthopoulos told me the team’s approach with Donaldson was cautious, because in years past, he’d overdo it early and suffer injuries during camp. Everyone understands the impact a healthy Donaldson can make for the 2019 Braves lineup, and they’ll definitely need it in this challenging National League East race. Yesterday, Fredie Freeman told me it’s usually around thirty at bats needed to be ready for the start of the new season. With three weeks (and a day) until the opener in Philly, Donaldson will have more than ample opportunities to get enough at bats to be ready to go for the Opener.

Kevin McAlpin has covered the Braves since 2012 for @680TheFan and the @BravesRadioNe