Braves' Timmons, Young Waiting For Opportunities





ATLANTA—Now that the worst-kept secret in baseball has become a reality with the Braves' hiring of Fredi Gonzalez as their manager, more changes are on the way, which began with the release of outfielder Melky Cabrera and righthander Takashi Saito a week after the team was ousted from the playoffs.

While several new faces are expected to populate the 2011 major league roster, a pair of long-time farmhands continue trying to break through the game's glass ceiling. Third baseman Wes Timmons and outfielder/second baseman Matt Young are toiling this winter with Navojoa in the Mexican Pacific League after rooming together this past season at Triple-A Gwinnett.

Serving as the one-two punch atop the G-Braves' lineup this past season, Young, who signed as a nondrafted free agent out of New Mexico in 2004, overcame a slow start at the plate to lead the organization with 88 runs scored and 39 stolen bases while ranking fourth with a .300 average. Timmons, a 2002 12th-round pick out Bethune-Cookman, battled an oblique injury late in the campaign to also place among the top 10 in six offensive categories, including an organization-best 60 walks to go with a .293/.400/.404 line.

"I was given the opportunity to play third base every day for the first time in a long time," Timmons said. "Getting the chance to hit higher in the lineup really helped, especially hitting behind Matty, who's always on base and creating headaches for the defense, which opened up holes for me."

Young's performance early in the campaign did not have the makings of a stellar summer. He was hitting .216 in mid-May before finding his rhythm in June, when he batted .386. He remembers reaching third on a triple and thanking manager Dave Brundage for sticking with him. Young, who turned 28 on Oct. 3, feels he became more versatile this season by splitting time between second base and all three positions in the outfield. The 31-year-old Timmons, meanwhile, has seen the sites of the International League in each of the past six seasons, including all of the last four.

"They say you learn more from your struggles than from your successes," Young said. "I learned a lot about myself and how to fight through it at this level. I feel like I grew up as a player and as a person."

Wigwam Wisps

• First baseman Freddie Freeman suffered what initially was described as a sprained thumb while sliding into third base on a triple in the Arizona Fall League.

• Todd Redmond went 2-0, 1.42 in a pair of starts at the Pan American Games Qualifier in Puerto Rico. The righthander, who's pitched the past two seasons at Gwinnett, went 3-0, 1.21 in three starts for the 2009 World Cup gold medal team.