Braves option Grissom to minors, clearing Arcia to start at SS

The Atlanta Braves have apparently decided who will replace the departed Dansby Swanson as their starting shortstop. It's not who most people expected it to be.

Vaughn Grissom and Braden Shewmake were optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett on Monday. That leaves utility infielder Orlando Arcia as the likely replacement for Swanson, who left the Braves in free agency during the offseason for a $177 million, seven-year deal with the Chicago Cubs.

Atlanta announced the moves involving Grissom and Shewmake after a 6-5 exhibition win over the Tampa Bay Rays. Grissom, who had been widely anticipated to be Swanson's successor, went 3-for-4 in the game with an RBI and run scored, raising his batting average to .371 in 12 games this spring.

Arcia appeared in only one game at shortstop for the Braves last season, when he made 43 starts at second base and hit .244 in 67 games overall. He hasn't been a primary shortstop since starting 59 games in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season for Milwaukee, which traded him to the Braves the following April.

The 22-year-old Grissom made his big league debut last season by hitting .291 with five home runs and 18 RBIs in 41 games for the Braves. He started 39 games at second base and one at shortstop.

Arcia and Grissom were needed so much at second base last year because Ozzie Albies missed much of the season because of two injuries -- a broken foot and finger.

Swanson, the first overall pick in the 2012 draft, debuted with the Braves in 2016 and hit .255 in 827 games over eight seasons. He hit .277 while playing in 162 games last season.

Shewmake, a first-round pick by the Braves in the 2019 amateur draft, is still looking to make his big league debut.

In the win over the Rays, right-hander Kyle Wright, baseball's only 20-game winner last season, made his first Grapefruit League start.

He had stopped throwing for three weeks during the offseason after a cortisone injection in his shoulder in January.

Wright allowed five hits (two home runs) and four runs over 2⅔ innings against Tampa Bay. He was on a pitch limit and departed after 49 pitches.

"I wasn't very good," Wright said, adding that he was making some adjustments during the outing when he didn't have any strikeouts or walks.

But what really mattered is that Wright said his shoulder felt great.

"We'll see how it feels [Tuesday]. That will be the real test," Wright said, and the Braves have off on Tuesday. "Everything is still trending in the right direction."

Wright had a breakout season last year, going 21-5 with a 3.19 ERA in 30 starts. The 27-year-old was 2-8 in 21 games (14 starts) the previous four seasons combined for the Braves.

He is expected to make one more Grapefruit League start, then remain in Florida to pitch in a minor league game after the Braves break camp next week. Wright expressed confidence that he will be ready to pitch for Atlanta at St. Louis in the team's second series of the regular season.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.