Let’s play some ball, folks

  Lakeland, Fla. – Welcome to a sun-splashed 70-degree afternoon at Tigertown, where we’re here for a big Grapefruit League lid-lifter (old baseball clichés acceptable in late February) after a bike ride across the heart of Polk County. 

   Jair Jurrjens have vengeance in mind as he takes on the team that traded him a way a winter ago in a package with center-field prospect Gorkys Hernandez in exchange for shortstop Edgar Renteria, which now looks to have been one of the more one-sided trades of the past decade.

  OK, so we’re exaggerating a bit about vengeance. I don’t know that Jurrjens, after winning 13 games in a stellar rookie season, is going to have revenge in mind today when he pitches two innings against his old team on Feb. 25.

  But we’re not exaggerating about that trade’s one-sidedness.

  After his outstanding two years with the Braves, Edgar fell off badly last year, hitting .270 with 10 homers, 55 RBI and a .317 OBP and .382 slugging percentage in his one season with the Tigers, who declined his option.

 (Edgar certainly landed on his feet, getting a surprisingly rich two-year, $18.5 million deal with the Giants, who apparently didn’t get the memo about the economy and reduced free-agent salaries.)

  Meanwhile, Jurrjens went 13-10 with a 3.68 ERA in a staff-leading 188-1/3 innings, finishing third in Rookie of the Year balloting. And Hernandez is ranked among the top-five prospects in the Braves organization and one of the best center-field prospects in baseball.

  Speaking of center-field prospects and Polk County  …. Jordan Schafer is like the Pope of Polk County, famous for his prep baseball exploits — and popularity among the ladies back then, from what I hear.

  Anyway, the likeable kid seems to have matured quite a bit since his first big-league camp a year ago, whether that was from dealing with the embarrassment of the 50-game suspension he got for suspected HGH use (he’s vehemently denied ever using, and there was no positive test of any kind), or just from a realization of what it’ll take to reach the goals that he and the organization have for him.

  (And he does have what it takes, physically and mentally, according to anyone you ask who’s seen him work and talked to him for any length.)

  He was one of the hardest workers in camp a year ago, and is again this year. But you won’t hear him speak of himself in third person, as he was heard to do a couple of times last year, and you don’t see him walking with his chest out like he did before in the clubhouse.

  Schafer no longer acts like he has to prove he belongs, as if others are waiting for the hot prospect with all the headlines to do something worthy of all the hype. He’s just playing now, just working and trying to show Frank Wren and Bobby Cox that he’s ready to contribute as soon as he gets the call.

  I still get the impression he’ll start the season at Triple-A Gwinnett and Josh Anderson will be in center and leading off for Atlanta, but who knows? Things happen. Anyway, it certainly won’t be a bad thing for him to spend a couple of months or more at Gwinnett, if that’s what it takes.

  For one thing, Anderson is out of minor-league options. And he’s hit over .300 in parts of two seasons with the Astros and Braves, and is the only guy on the team capable of stealing a lot of bases. He’s the Braves’ best leadoff option.

  Schafer told me if he plays well enough to be here, but is sent to Gwinnett, then he’ll just go to Gwinnett and play hard and try to get back sooner than later. I think he gets the business side of it, including such things as options and the fact that, if Schafer doesn’t come up until a little later in the season, he won’t be eligible for arbitration until after the 2012 season, instead of after the 2011 season (don’t know if that plays much at all in the Braves’ decision; again, Anderson is out of options and the best leadoff guy).

  But that wasn’t even why I brought up Schafer and Polk County. I keep meaning to mention that him and Matt Diaz, who also lives down here, hit a couple of times a week together during the offseason.

  Sometimes it was at a local high school or college, but more often it was in a dingy warehouse building where they hit balls delivered by the the sophisticated (and quite expensive) pitching machine that Schafer bought a few years ago with part of his signing bonus money after he was drafted.

  Let’s just say that based on Diaz’s description, it sounds like the machine was worth more than the warehouse where Schafer rents space to keep it.

  “It’s in an old fertilizer plant or something,” Diaz said, then cracked: “You feel like you need to go to the doctor every day when you get out of there. My insurance will probably be cancelled after they find out I hit there.”

 Anyway, the machine replicates the pitching styles of various major leaguers, down to the arm angles, the height of delivery, everything. There’s a software disc for most major league pitchers, and Schafer has bought most of the discs.

  Schafer spent most of his time hitting sliders and other pitches from left-handers on the machine, because last year he struggled against lefties, unlike previous seasons in his minor league career. He said the key for him against lefties is simplay staying within his approach, not getting out of it and getting behind in counts and flailing like he did sometimes last year.

 Today’s Braves lineup vs. the Tigers

  1.  Josh Anderson, CF
  2. Yunel Escobar, SS
  3. Brian McCann, C
  4. Casey Kotchman, 1B
  5. Jeff Francoeur, RF
  6. Kelly Johnson, 2b
  7. Matt Diaz, LF
  8. Martin Prado, 3B
  9. Jordan Schafer, RF
 Chipper Jones, Omar Infante and Greg Norton didn’t make the trip, and they were back at Dark Star (Lake Buena Vista) this morning working out with just-signed left fielder Garret Anderson. “They can get a lot of work done back there,” Cox said of the extended BP that they all would get.
  Cox said Chipper would play the Braves’ home opener Thursday vs. Houston at Champion Stadium.

 Speaking of Anderson, here’s what Tigers manager Jim Leyland said when I asked him about the newest Brave this morning: “I like him a lot. A professional all the way. I’ve always been a big fan of his, just from watching from the other dugout, the way he goes about his business. And he can f—ing hit.

 ”He’s what I call a manager’s big-league player. No flash, no bull—-. He steps in the batter’s box and he knows what the hell he’s doing. And what I like about him is, he gets big hits off good pitchers. He hits good pitchers. That was a good pickup for them.”

 

“I’M COMIN’ HOME” by Robert Earl Keen

Packed my suitcase and I racked my brain
Bought a ticket on a late night train
Took a taxi through the pourin’ rain
I’m comin’ home to you

Flew from Boston out to San Jose
Sae our old friends in Monterey Bay
When they asked me if I’d like to stay
I said I’m comin’ home to you

I’m comin’ home
Made up my mind that’s what I’m gonna do
Can’t love nobody on the telephone
I’m comin’ home to you

They threw a party there from dusk ’till dawn
Seems like everybody knows old sleepy John
He said next time I better bring you along
I’m comin’ home to you

They had fresh caught salmon on the bareques
There were people jammin’ all night to the blues
Life is good out in Santa Cruz but
I’m comin’ home to you

I’m comin’ home
Made up my mind that’s what I’m gonna do
Can’t love nobody on the telephone
I’m comin’ home to you

I drove forever out to God knows where
Come ten-thirty there was no one there
They couldn’t pay me but I didn’t care
I’m comin’ home to you

I’m feelin’ better since I got your card
I read it over and over when the road gets hard
Ain’t nothin’ better than your own backyard
I’m comin’ home to you

I’m comin’ home
Made up my mind that’s what I’m gonna do
Can’t love nobody on the telephone
I’m comin’ home to you

I’m comin’ home
Made up my mind that’s what I’m gonna do
Can’t love nobody on the telephone

I’m comin’ home to you
Packed my suitcase and I racked my brain
Bought a ticket on the late night train
Took a taxi in the pourin’ rain……

947 comments Add your comment

PTBNL

February 25th, 2009
1:07 pm

Yes, let’s!

AL

February 25th, 2009
1:07 pm

Robert

February 25th, 2009
1:08 pm

McCann walks on 3-2 pitch

Does anyone want play by play

Oh yeah

February 25th, 2009
1:09 pm

Damn right am first

MLH

February 25th, 2009
1:09 pm

play by play would be awesome.

Thanks

Robert

February 25th, 2009
1:09 pm

Kotchman infield single

Robert

February 25th, 2009
1:10 pm

kotchman inf single

ChopShop860

February 25th, 2009
1:11 pm

braves4ever

February 25th, 2009
1:11 pm

David, is BC going to let Schafer and Heyward play a lot in the OF along with J. Anderson in spring to get an extended look at them ,with Francoeur and G.Anderson DH ing and coming in late till we get close to the real season. I would love to see those guys play and hit against some big league pitchers. Do you those two might make the 40 man roster or is MGM thinking more to 2 months in the minors as to lock in their 4 yr minimum of service. Sounds like a good business decision vs a fun coaching decision.

Robert

February 25th, 2009
1:11 pm

francoeur grounds out to first

3 outs

Maddux

February 25th, 2009
1:12 pm

yes on play by play

McFann :Ô:

February 25th, 2009
1:13 pm

Well, that’s fine. Petey’s got a vet appointment at 2:30, and we gotta leave at quarter till if we wanna get there on time.

Fine, guys. Thanks. I was counting on a radio broadcast. Just gonna hafta be surprised now, I guess. “Thanks!”

Would love a little play-by-play action! Mac walked already? Seriously? It’s that far along?

Well, guess it did start seven minutes ago…

ease19

February 25th, 2009
1:13 pm

Thanks Robert, play byplay would be great!

Robert

February 25th, 2009
1:13 pm

Jurrjens to Granderson

Scuba Steve

February 25th, 2009
1:14 pm

I would love play by play!

Robert

February 25th, 2009
1:14 pm

Granderson base hit past a diving Kelly Johnson
1 on no out

David O'Brien

February 25th, 2009
1:14 pm

Curtis Granderson leadoff single in the bottom of first off J.J.

(McCann walks and Kotchman had an infield single in first inning for Bravos)

Daniel

February 25th, 2009
1:15 pm

anywhere to hear the game? online or radio?

cabravesfan

February 25th, 2009
1:15 pm

Appreciate the play by play Robert- Thanks!

BamaBrave

February 25th, 2009
1:16 pm

FINALLY…some actual baseball… Huzzah!!!

Josh H

February 25th, 2009
1:16 pm

braves4ever:

I think Heyward is still 19. Braves are probably just giving him a look at his first big league camp. Don’t think he’d be able to contribute to the big league club until at least next year.

I’d have to hope Schafer is given every chance to compete with Anderson.

Maddux

February 25th, 2009
1:16 pm

Francoeur getting it started right this year. hahaha

Robert

February 25th, 2009
1:16 pm

Polanco base hit to right

Runners on 1st and 2nd

Daniel

February 25th, 2009
1:16 pm

also DOB, I can’t get the lineup

Epinephrine

February 25th, 2009
1:16 pm

Oh man, we need to send JJ to Richmond. Buckle up!

TnBrian

February 25th, 2009
1:16 pm

Leyland had good things to say about the Braves this time last year, so don’t listen! Nah, he’s obviously a smart manager and to hear that about G.A. is good news.

Robert, are you there watching the game or listening to it?

Epinephrine

February 25th, 2009
1:17 pm

Er, make that Gwinett.

DWW

February 25th, 2009
1:17 pm

Robert
Keep it up!

Robert

February 25th, 2009
1:19 pm

Jurrjens facing regular lineup except for Sheffield

Ordonez – ball three the announcers said was a strike
Walk again close pitch

Robert

February 25th, 2009
1:19 pm

tigers lineup is tough

MFin04

February 25th, 2009
1:19 pm

Is it too early to start the “uh-oh Francoeur” speeches?

ChopShop860

February 25th, 2009
1:19 pm

WOO HOO! Francoeur is hitting the ball the other way!!

Sorry, a little spring optomism.

David O'Brien

February 25th, 2009
1:19 pm

Magglio SF to right, Schafer made a helluva throw on the fly to home and almost nailed Granderson.

Alas, he scored, Tigers up 1-0 with one out.

Robert

February 25th, 2009
1:20 pm

Cabrera SF to right, said Schafer has a really good throwing arm, almost got Granderson but throw was up the line

AdirondackDave

February 25th, 2009
1:20 pm

atta boy, Robert. Keep up the play by play while I multi-task. Watching (at 2 est) Tiger start at Accenture match play.

ShipHockey7

February 25th, 2009
1:20 pm

the Play by play is much appreciated!

Graham

February 25th, 2009
1:21 pm

If anyone has XM, the game in on channel 184.

Robert

February 25th, 2009
1:21 pm

Based on the announcers neither Granderson or Polanco’s balls were hit hard, that is a good sign

ShipHockey7

February 25th, 2009
1:21 pm

AdirondackDave, I’m doing the same thing! all the while at work! lol

Graham

February 25th, 2009
1:21 pm

the game IS (not “in”, sorry) on channel 184

DWW

February 25th, 2009
1:21 pm

Adiron
No play by play on Tiger please. I have it recording at home.

Robert

February 25th, 2009
1:22 pm

Guillen 6-4-3 end of the inning, good damage control

Run Heap Run

February 25th, 2009
1:22 pm

Robert

February 25th, 2009
1:23 pm

DOB is Jurrjens getting squeezed, the announcers think so on the Ordonez at-bat

VolBrave

February 25th, 2009
1:23 pm

DOB

Wouldn’t that song be more appropriate at the end of ST, when ya’ll are headed back to ATL?

….wait, who am I kidding? REK is always appropriate!!!

Robert

February 25th, 2009
1:24 pm

I took the day off of college, the first Brave game of the year is a holiday in my house. My wife is keeping me company

Steve

February 25th, 2009
1:24 pm

1-0 Tigers ALREADY!!!!!!! We are totally screwed this year…lol…Great to see baseball back!

Robert

February 25th, 2009
1:25 pm

DunderChief

February 25th, 2009
1:26 pm

Yeah, that was one heck of a one-sided trade. Another one-sided trade was Andy Marte for Edgar + money to begin with. So essentially we got Edgar, Jurrgens, and Gorkys for Marte, a guy who may never make it to big for an entire season. Not bad, not bad at all.

AdirondackDave

February 25th, 2009
1:26 pm

ShipHockey7 — Work…work… what is that? I’m down here in Delray Beach, Florida. It’s only about 71 today so I’m staying inside for a while. Oh, the life of the retiree….

Robert

February 25th, 2009
1:26 pm

Diaz – walks on 3-2 pitch

getnathan

February 25th, 2009
1:27 pm

It’s over, Braves are gonna lose 90 games again….

Where can I get play by play?

Robert

February 25th, 2009
1:28 pm

Prado – 6-4-3 DP inning over

The_Superhoo

February 25th, 2009
1:29 pm

Hmmm the AJC’s “Live Boxscore” is somewhat less than “live”…

MFin04

February 25th, 2009
1:30 pm

PS – play-by-play is great, keep it up!

Robert

February 25th, 2009
1:30 pm

Thames – Pop up to Prado

Robert

February 25th, 2009
1:31 pm

Laird hits a line drive to right, Schafer dove and the ball went all the way to the wall for a triple

VolBrave

February 25th, 2009
1:32 pm

It’s a great day for baseball cliches…let’s play two!

Robert

February 25th, 2009
1:32 pm

wild pitch scores laird

MFin04

February 25th, 2009
1:33 pm

Apparently we are getting all the kinks out.

Robert

February 25th, 2009
1:34 pm

Inge base hit to left center

ShipHockey7

February 25th, 2009
1:34 pm

Adirondak, its called being 22 and working at the PA Department of Education, its terrible lol…would sure be nice to be in Florida though, count me in as jealous!

eltrompo

February 25th, 2009
1:36 pm

Well, Jurrjens was complaining about not being entirely ready….hopefully this will be a temporary setback.

Patrick

February 25th, 2009
1:37 pm

Yikes, inauspicious start the year.

Thanks for the play by play Robert!
You’re getting me through work today

Robert

February 25th, 2009
1:37 pm

Everett – good at-bat here

Queball

February 25th, 2009
1:37 pm

Adirondack, I’m jealous…While the life of a 24 year old gym teaching high school baseball coach isn’t bad, Florida sounds much better. At least my planning period lets me listen to the game on mlb.tv today.

Robert

February 25th, 2009
1:38 pm

5-3 Ing was running only play at first

eltrompo

February 25th, 2009
1:39 pm

Yeah, seriously Robert, thanks for the Play by play. I hate that MLB.com doesn’t have the Gameday option open yet.

Robert

February 25th, 2009
1:39 pm

announcers making fun of the small strike zone

ChopShop860

February 25th, 2009
1:39 pm

MLB Spring Batting Average Leaders:

1. Casey Kotchman

Eat that, Tex.

Robert

February 25th, 2009
1:39 pm

my pleasure guys

bravesfan

February 25th, 2009
1:39 pm

Is the game on the internet (radio link or tv link) anywhere?

Robert

February 25th, 2009
1:39 pm

Granderson grounds out 4-3

Robert

February 25th, 2009
1:39 pm

Schafer time

The_Superhoo

February 25th, 2009
1:40 pm

ChopShop860

February 25th, 2009
1:39 pm
MLB Spring Batting Average Leaders:

1. Casey Kotchman

Eat that, Tex.

Haha don’t jump the gun toooo quick ;-)

AdirondackDave

February 25th, 2009
1:40 pm

ShipHockey7 — Hang in there, you’ll be 65 before you know it! Well, actually it will take a while, if I remember correctly. But when you do get there, you want to be back in college again.

JPHunt

February 25th, 2009
1:41 pm

My productivity has officially hit zero for the day.

ChopShop860

February 25th, 2009
1:41 pm

haha, what a quick response. totally tounge-in-cheek. i also already proclaimed how happy I am that “francoeur is finally going the other way”

I am just so geeked that baseball is starting im throwing out dumb posts. ignore them. and GO BRAVES.

Nick

February 25th, 2009
1:41 pm

bravesfan (and others), it’s on MLB.tv (radio only), it’s the Tigers announcers.
http://mlb.mlb.com/mediacenter/#20090225
If you had mlb.tv last year, you can still log in…

dogsbrekky

February 25th, 2009
1:41 pm

Jordan Schafer coming up now

VolBrave

February 25th, 2009
1:42 pm

MLB.com has the radio play-by-play if u pay for that service

The Truth Hurts

February 25th, 2009
1:42 pm

Perhaps there was no positive test for HGH, because there is NO test for HGH.

ChopShop860

February 25th, 2009
1:42 pm

i do, however, think that kotchman is going to be more productive this year than people are assuming. it’s just that he appears to be about as interesting as an end table so he gets forgotten.

lewie

February 25th, 2009
1:42 pm

JJ a little rusty

want to see what schafer can do

lewie

February 25th, 2009
1:43 pm

Robert

February 25th, 2009
1:43 pm

Zach Miner in to pitch (former Brave)

Schafer – K

eltrompo

February 25th, 2009
1:44 pm

I’m not worried about JJ. He’ll fix whatever was rusty today.

The Truth Hurts

February 25th, 2009
1:44 pm

At least, not yet. Soon.

Patrick

February 25th, 2009
1:44 pm

I bet he’s too amp’d up.
That’s not good for a sinkerballer

Robert

February 25th, 2009
1:44 pm

Schafer needs to cut down on the strikeouts

Robert

February 25th, 2009
1:45 pm

K – Anderson

toga party

February 25th, 2009
1:45 pm

Thanks for the tip about MLB.tv Nick. I forgot my subscription hadn’t expired yet.

Sucks that XM radio online can’t carry the radio feed.

AdirondackDave

February 25th, 2009
1:45 pm

QueBall — Same applies to you. Even basketball coaches get their reward eventually. Do you also teach 7th grade history? Mine did 60 years ago!

David O'Brien

February 25th, 2009
1:45 pm

Sorry, folks, was on line with a lady helping me with our next expense-reporting format, which had me up until 2:30 a.m. trying to figure it out last night… got it down now.

ChopShop860

February 25th, 2009
1:46 pm

thanks for the heads up about being able to sign in with last years stuff, nick.

Maddux

February 25th, 2009
1:47 pm

yeah I have XM as well but pissed I cant listen to MLB on the online segment. Why cant we get the same channels online.

Robert

February 25th, 2009
1:48 pm

Escobar – Eacobar base hit, would have been a double but a great diving stop by Inge

getnathan

February 25th, 2009
1:49 pm

Tigers have scored 2 runs in two innings of former teammate jair Jurrjens. Not a good start. Who else is pitching today?

A FAN

February 25th, 2009
1:50 pm

Robert keep em comin!!! doing a great thing here for us fans!!!!

getnathan

February 25th, 2009
1:50 pm

It’s only spring training though.

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