In their first opening day without Bobby Cox since 1990, the Atlanta Braves gave Fredi Gonzalez his first victory as their new manager.
Gonzalez is expecting plenty more wins.The Braves look to build on a solid 2011 opener when they face the Washington Nationals on Saturday.Fired June 23 by Florida, Gonzalez was named Cox's replacement Oct. 13 after the 69-year-old retired after leading the Braves to 15 playoff appearances, including the 1995 World Series championship.The Gonzalez era got off to a positive start Thursday with a 2-0 victory in the nation's capital."A win's a win," Gonzalez said. "I'm wearing this uniform and, hopefully, I'm wearing it for a long time and get a lot of wins."That could be the case if right fielder Jason Heyward and 38-year-old Chipper Jones continue to produce.The 21-year-old Heyward, who finished second in the NL rookie of the year voting last season, hit a solo shot to become just the second player in major league history to homer in his first at-bat of his team's opening day game in his first two seasons.Jones didn't go deep, but the 1999 NL MVP made a franchise-record 16th straight opening day start and went 2 for 4 with a double and a run in his first game since tearing his left ACL on Aug. 10.Jones is 7 for 23 against Washington scheduled starter John Lannan, but the left-hander is hoping Saturday is the start of a successful full season in the majors.Lannan went 8-8 with a career-worst 4.65 ERA in 2010, when he also made seven starts at Double-A Harrisburg during a six-week midseason demotion."Being sent down made me reevaluate, and now I know what I am," Lannan told the Nationals' official website. "... I have to throw my sinker and changeup. I just have to stay aggressive."Lannan went 2-0 with a 3.18 ERA in two starts against the Braves last season -- both in Atlanta -- and five of his 28 career wins have come in this matchup.The Braves will counter with Tommy Hanson, who went 0-1 with a 3.75 ERA in two starts in Washington last season.The young right-hander, who was 10-11 with a 3.33 ERA and set career highs with 202 2/3 innings and 173 strikeouts in 2010, didn't get to make his final spring training start Monday due to rain."I was just trying to get my work in, and I feel pretty good with all of my pitches," Hanson, who opened last season 7-3, told the Braves' official website.Hanson gets his first look at Jayson Werth in a Nationals uniform. Washington's new $126 million right fielder went 1 for 4 with a strikeout Thursday.Last season with Philadelphia, Werth went 1 for 3 with a double and walked twice against Hanson.