COBB COUNTY, Ga. - Thursday was the day Braves fans have been waiting for -- opening day at SunTrust Park!
All gates opened at 2 p.m. The game started at 4:10 p.m. with new Hall of Famer Chipper Jones throwing out the ceremonial first pitch.
Julio Teheran will make his fifth straight opening day start for the Braves against Philadelphia's Aaron Nola.
EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT OPENING DAY:
- Coca-Cola Roxy Tailgate: Official pregame tailgate, free and open to all ages. Kicks off at noon and hosted by 680 The Fan at the Coca-Cola Roxy. Fans can expect corn hole, cocktails & a $15 lunch buffet before the game
- In Stadium Pregame: Fans are encouraged to be in their seats 30 minutes prior to first pitch. Clay Cook from Zac Brown Band will perform the National Anthem. UGA's Nick Chubb will officially begin game with "play ball" command.
- Parking: If you plan on driving, the Braves strongly recommend purchasing parking before leaving for SunTrust Park. You can do so by clicking here.
- Tailgating: Only allowed in Braves North 29 lot.
- Click here for any other Braves-related information
The Phillies are coming off their fifth straight losing season, a 96-loss debacle that left them at the bottom of the division. Stocked with young talent on the big league roster and plenty of top prospects in the minors, Philadelphia began to fill in the gaps from its long rebuilding job. The team doled out a three-year, $75 million contract to 2015 Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta. First baseman Carlos Santana received a three-year, $60 million deal.
While the Phillies are eager to move up, the Braves are still a team in transition.
Alex Anthopoulos took over as general manager after John Coppolella was fired - and banned for life by Major League Baseball - for ignoring rules on signing international players, a scandal that also cost Atlanta several top prospects and will prevent the team from bargaining at full strength for Latin American players until 2021.
The Braves are coming off their fourth straight losing season (72-90), but hope is on the way.
Twenty-year-old Ronald Acuna is perhaps baseball's top prospect, an outfielder who hit .325 with 21 homers, 82 RBIs and 44 stolen bases while working his way up from Class A to Triple-A last season. He continued to dazzle in the Arizona Fall League, then sent the hype into overdrive by batting .432 with four homers in spring training.
Acuna is clearly ready for the big leagues, but he'll be right up the road at Triple-A Gwinnett until at least April 13. By delaying his big league debut, the Braves push back Acuna's eligibility for free agency by a full year - the same sort of contractual skullduggery that the Chicago Cubs pulled on Kris Bryant.
"Naturally, I was a little disappointed, but that isn't going to deter me at all from my work ethic or stop me at all," Acuna said through an interpreter. "I'm going to keep working as hard and do everything I can and keep giving my all and keep looking forward."
For now, it feels like Atlanta is simply biding time until Acuna's much-anticipated debut.
"He's a special guy. Everybody knows that," Braves center fielder Ender Inciarte said. "Hopefully he's going to help us a lot to win a lot of games, but right now I'm trying to focus on what we have. The future will dictate what comes. Right now I just want to worry about winning the games we can. He's not with us right now."