Braves manager Gonzalez trying to get through slow start

ATLANTA (AP) Atlanta Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said Friday ''it's tough'' to hear speculation he could be fired.

The Braves entered Friday's game against Arizona with a 7-20 record, the worst in the majors.

Gonzalez understands he's an easy target for criticism despite an understanding that this would be a rebuilding year. The team is preparing to move to a new stadium in 2017.

Gonzalez said Friday he ''did a lot of soul searching'' when the team was off on Thursday following a 3-4 road trip.

Asked if he has received any clarification about his status from Braves president John Hart and general manager John Coppolella, Gonzalez said ''No, I got a chance to write the lineup today. That's good enough for me.''

The Braves opened 0-9 and added another seven-game losing streak after four wins.

''If we would have started 3-6 or 4-5, the story doesn't even become an issue,'' Gonzalez said, adding his role is to remain positive for his players.

''Nothing is for sure in our business, so you hold your head up, make good decisions and go forward and see what happens,'' he said.

Hart on Thursday told The Associated Press the speculation about Gonzalez was ''a media rumor, likely spreading due to our slow start, and as such I don't make it a practice to comment on media rumors.''

Coppolella said he wouldn't comment on rumors.

Gonzalez said his job status is ''an easy story.''

''It's easy finger-pointing because our record is 7-20,'' he said. ''It's easy to get picked on right now. My job is to make sure these guys, our players, are positive and they're getting information to win the ballgame and they play the game the right way.''

The Braves already have called up two top prospects, outfielder Mallex Smith and right-hander Aaron Blair. Shortstop Ozzie Albies was promoted to Triple-A Gwinnett on Saturday, clearing the way for shortstop Dansby Swanson to move up to Double-A Mississippi. One of the two is expected to move to second base to form the team's future middle infield.

Starting pitchers Tyrell Jenkins and Casey Kelly each have ERAs under 2.00 at Gwinnett. Gonzalez said he wants to be the manager when those prospects arrive.

''You see the young talent coming and you see how good they could be for a long time,'' Gonzalez said.

''My biggest concern is you go through these lumps, you see these young guys come in and then you get let go, you get dismissed, and the guys are here the next year and they're winning everything and you go, `I wish you'd get an opportunity to do that.' But again, this is a cruel business and it's part of our job.''

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