World Series champion Braves set roster for title defense

ATLANTA (AP) — The World Series champion Atlanta Braves are carrying three catchers on their opening day roster.

William Contreras made the team for Thursday’s first game against the Cincinnati Red behind starting catcher Travis d’Arnaud and top backup Manny Piña. The Braves sent veteran infielders Phil Gosselin and Pat Valaika to Triple-A Gwinnett earlier in the week.

The 24-year-old Contreras, who hit .215 with eight homers and 23 RBIs in 52 games for the Braves last season, played right field during spring training to increase his versatility. He also took ground balls at third base in case he’s needed there.

The Braves are carrying only one backup infielder, Orlando Arcia.

Contreras will likely head back to Triple-A when Ronald Acuña Jr. rejoins the team in early May. The star outfielder is starting the year on the injured list as he recovers from reconstructive knee surgery.

The Braves have 15 pitchers on their expanded 28-man roster and will likely use six starters in the first month of the season. After the top three of Max Fried, Charlie Morton and Ian Anderson, Huascar Ynoa and Kyle Wright claimed the next two spots in the rotation.

Left-hander Tucker Davidson and hard-throwing righty Spencer Strider will be considered for the sixth spot, depending on the matchup.

Strider is one of the team’s most intriguing prospects. He started last season at Single-A but progressed quickly through the minors to earn a call-up by the Braves in October.

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