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G-Braves start exhibition with experienced lineup

Many of the players ticketed for Gwinnett this season are still in major league camp, but that doesn't mean G-Braves manager Dave Brundage will only have lower-level youngsters at his disposal when exhibition games begin Saturday.

In fact, that's not the case at all.

G-BRAVES OPENER

• When: April 8, 7:05 p.m.

• Where: Coolray Field, Lawrenceville

• Opponent: Charlotte Knights

• TV: CSS

EXHIBITION SCHEDULE

The Gwinnett Braves will play 13 exhibition games in Florida, all at 1 p.m. (with opponent and location):

Saturday: Syracuse, Disney

Sunday: Round Rock, Kissimmee

Monday: Toledo, Disney

Tuesday: Round Rock, Disney

Thursday: Toledo, Lakeland

Friday: Syracuse, Viera

March 27: Toledo, Disney

March 28: Round Rock, Kissimmee

March 29: Syracuse, Disney

March 30: Syracuse, Viera

April 1: Round Rock, Disney

April 2: Toledo, Lakeland

April 3: Syracuse, Viera

Barbaro Canizares and Wes Timmons — International League all-stars with the G-Braves last season — are already in minor league camp in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., and Brundage will also be able to call on plenty of other Class AAA veterans.

Atlanta signed a number of minor league free agents from other teams in the offseason, including several with past major league experience. Some got invitations to major league camp, but others didn't.

Veterans already with the G-Braves include infielders Luis Bolivar, Eric Duncan and Juan Gonzalez, catcher J.R. House and right-handed reliever Chris Resop.

Resop and House each spent parts of several seasons in the majors, while Duncan was once a first-round draft choice of the New York Yankees.

Resop, 27, was with the Braves in 2008 before going to Japan. He also pitched with Florida and the Los Angeles Angels, appearing in 57 major league games over parts of four seasons.

House, 30, is a record-setting high school quarterback from Nitro, W.Va. who played one season for West Virginia University. He has played for Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Houston, but has just 60 at-bats in the majors over parts of five seasons.

Duncan, 25, was a first-round pick in 2003, but never lived up to the Yankees' expectations. The corner infielder was released after hitting .204 a year ago in his third season with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Bolivar, 29, and Gonzalez, 27, give the G-Braves veteran middle infield depth. Bolivar spent eight seasons in the Cincinnati organization, stealing 28 bases last year with Louisville. Gonzalez spend his first 11 minor league seasons with Detroit and Los Angeles, reaching AAA for the first time last season with Albuquerque in the Pacific Coast League.

Of course, the veteran leaders of the G-Braves remain Timmons and Canizares, both 30 years old.

Timmons hit .283 with a .416 on-base average last year while playing all over the G-Braves infield. First baseman-DH Canizares, a defector from Cuba, batted .294 with 12 home runs and 79 RBIs.

Gwinnett begins its 13-game exhibition schedule on Saturday against Syracuse at the Wide World of Sports complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. All spring games begin at 1 p.m.

The International League opener is April 8 against Charlotte at Coolray Field. Game time is 7:05 p.m.

Brundage led the G-Braves to an 81-63 record in their first season, finishing two games behind Durham in the IL's South Division. The G-Braves made the playoffs as the wild-card team but lost to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in the opening round.