Well, guess who’s back? It’s been a long time, good people, and I’m happy to be blogging live in place of DOB from camp for a week or so.
It’s bright and sunny, down here in Disney territory, if not exactly warm – 50s I’d say? Hey, I”ll take it.
As you know it’s another Tommy Hanson day. Everybody’s favorite stud will be taking the mound in an exhibition game against Panama. Eyes will be on the radar gun, where he hit 99 in his first time out last week against the Astros.
Starting for Panama today is an old familiar face: Bruce Chen. Yep, former Brave, and as he pointed out this morning, former pretty much everything else too.
“It seems like every team I will pitch to, it’ll be an old team,” said Chen, who’s pitched for nine major league teams. “But these guys are special, they were my first organization. And the team I’ve been with the longest.”
Chen last pitched for the Texas Rangers for five games in 2007 before undergoing Tommy John surgery. He’s aiming to make a comeback with the Kansas City Royals, who signed him to a minor league contract on Saturday. Chen said his arm feels good, but his velocity isn’t yet what it needs to be. Hm, ought to be fun for Braves hitters.
Speaking of, Panama will face a fairly thin Braves lineup. They’re already going without Chipper Jones and Brian McCann, who left to join the U.S. team for the WBC. On top of that they have several guys nursing nagging injuries. None of them are serious, but this early in camp, Bobby Cox sees no need to rush them back into the lineup. It’s Casey Kotchman (quadriceps, finger), Jordan Schafer (shoulder), Freddie Freeman (quadriceps) and Josh Anderson (tailbone). I wouldn’t be overly concerned about any of them, just so you know why they’re not playing.
Omar Infante CF
Kelly Johnson 2B
Greg Norton 1B
Jeff Francoeur RF
Matt Diaz LF
Brandon Jones DH
David Ross C
Martin Prado 3B
By the way, Manny Acosta chose not to pitch for Panama and not to stop long enough to explain it this morning, but I gather he wants to focus on making the Braves bullpen and doesn’t want to miss that much time in camp.
As for other familiar faces: Phil Niekro has left the premises, but the Braves have another special pitching instructor of note. Gene Garber is here, the old side-winding closer himself. Somewhere Pete Rose is groaning.
And some other tidbits: (we’re all business today, eh?)
Tom Glavine is driving down to Orlando today and is expected to be in camp tomorrow. Bobby said Glavine wants to throw a couple of side sessions and then get into a game, so don’t look for him to be on the mound for a few days, maybe late in the weekend.
Also, Garret Anderson is expected to get his first game action on Thursday in an exhibition game against Venezuela.
I did talk to Jair Jurrjens about his outing yesterday in the simulated game. He allowed four hits and two runs in three innings. Of his 43 pitches, 25 were strikes.
“I’m not hitting my spots with my fastball, and my fastball is my game,” Jurrjens said. “When I don’t have control of it, it’s going to make it a little difficult for me to pitch. I’m opening up and I’m trying to force everything up. Not nice and smooth and staying behind the ball. (It’s) on all the pitches, not just the fastball, my changeup too.”
He’s allowed four runs in his first five innings this spring, including his two innings against the Tigers on Wednesday. It’s early yet, which both Roger McDowell and veterans are reminding him, but he sounds a little disappointed he hasn’t started sharper.
“I just like to do things right,” Jurrjens said.
I asked Jurrjens if his winter routine changed much, and he did say he started throwing a little later than normal (Jan. 6) because of a lot of rain in Curacao and because he was sick for two weeks in December. (Rain? Yes, the weather is so typically amazing in Curacao, who needs indoor mound?)
OK, we’re off and running. Hoping I’m doing OK on the new WordPress system. Guess I’ll find out soon enough. I just previewed this page and see where Dave’s photo is at the top. That ought to confuse Coach quite a bit. I’ll see if I can get that changed.