LAWRENCEVILLE His homecoming cut short, it turns out that Tim Gustafson will have to wait before he gets his chance to pitch for the Gwinnett Braves.
The former Parkview and Georgia Tech standout made it only one game into the season before he became the odd man out Friday when the G-Braves activated newly acquired Cristhian Martinez.
Gustafson was sent back to Class AA Mississippi, where he had expected to open the season all along. He had been pleasantly surprised a week ago when told that he would be going to Class AAA Gwinnett instead.
Now it's back to the Southern League for Gustafson so the G-Braves can fit Martinez onto their 24-man roster. The right-hander from the Dominican Republic was claimed off waivers by Atlanta from Florida on Thursday and optioned to Gwinnett.
Martinez will work out of the bullpen for the G-Braves, but he has been a starter more than a reliever during his time in the minors.
The 28-year-old appeared in 15 games in relief for the Marlins last season and was 1-1 with a 5.13 ERA in 261/3 innings. He had a 3.86 ERA and a .224 opponents' batting average in his last 10 games.
Martinez pitched more than half of the season for Jacksonville in the Southern League, posting a 9-3 record and a 2.94 ERA in 16 starts and one relief appearance. Originally signed by Detroit, he has no Class AAA experience.
Lineup juggling act
Bobby Cox filled out the same lineup for each of the Atlanta's first three games. But managing in the minors isn't the same as managing in the majors.
G-Braves manager Dave Brundage's task is to make sure that everyone gets a chance and that everyone is ready when needed. He shuffled three positions Friday and will likely make another change tonight to make sure that all 14 of his position players get a start in the first three games against Charlotte.
"You need to utilize all your players," Brundage said. "You know that you'll need them down the road and you want them ready. You don't want anyone sitting too long after they've played almost every day in spring training."
The G-Braves are carrying 12 pitchers and have three others who were with the team last season waiting for a roster spot this year. Vladimir Nunez is on the disabled list, while Jon Huber and Francisely Bueno are inactive.
The glut of pitchers will be even greater when Luis Valdez is able to clear up his visa problems and get out of his native Dominican Republic. Valdez, who led the International League in saves last season, is on Atlanta's restricted list.
Opening night success
With the G-Braves and Myrtle Beach winning, Atlanta farm teams were 2-1 in their season openers Thursday night. Mississippi lost 4-3 to Tennessee despite a three-run homer by Cody Johnson and Myrtle Beach defeated Wilmington 4-1 in the advanced Class A Carolina League. Mike Minor, Atlanta's first-round draft pick last June, took the loss for Mississippi, but struck out six in five innings. Rome was rained out at Kannapolis in the Class A South Atlantic League.