TAMPA – OK, kids, it’s going to be a quick one today, considering I’ve got about 30 minutes to bang something out before the game starts. It’s a 1:15 start today in Yankee land.
We’re in sunny Tampa, in the shadows of Raymond James Stadium, and A-Rod is nowhere to be found, but Tex sure is. He’s got the pinstripes on, which look a little weird. He bopped over to the Braves dugout to greet Frank Wren and Bobby Cox during batting practice, seems happy. He and Cox shook hands. I heard him tell Bobby he missed him.
Course he’s got a few million reasons to be happy right where he is. He’s in the lineup today hitting third. I didn’t get a chance to say more than a quick hello, but he’s always been a positive upbeat guy to me. Wish him well.
Nothing new to report on Garret Anderson. Wren said the same thing today that Anderson said last night (after pulling his right calf in pre-game warm-ups before the Houston game, for those who hadn’t heard). It’ll be a couple of days before they really know what they’re dealing with. So it sounds like it’s going to be a while before he gets back out there. The way Anderson described it last night, it was a pull. Nothing tweaky by the sounds of it.
But sentiment is, if he’s going to have an injury, better to have it early in camp. Meantime, Matt Diaz will have plenty of opportunities to swing the bat.
I got a chance to speak to our new radio duo of Don Sutton and Jim Powell this morning and both were really happy with how things have started off for them.
Don was doing play-by-play for the first time in 29 months, and said it felt more like riding a unicycle, than just getting back on a bike (Think that’s the first time I’ve ever typed “unicycle.”) But I’m betting you guys who listened didn’t notice a thing.
And both guys had really nice things to say about their partners.
“Jim makes it very comfortable, very easy,” Sutton said. “After about five minutes, it felt like we’d been working together for a long time.”
Powell, who grew up in Atlanta and went to the University of Georgia, admitted to being a little nervous.
“I was comfortable on the baseball side,” Powell said. “But I was also thinking about the fact that my mother and father-in-law would be listening in Suwanee, and my high school buddies and my wife would be listening on the internet. And maybe even Pete Van Wieren would be too. That’s your college professor right there. That’s pressure. But once the game started, it was just baseball.”
Of course, doing radio play-by-play has got to be the hardest during spring training when there are so many unfamiliar names and a gazillion changes during the course of the game. Jim has a secret for that:
“A bunch of changes for the Astros, here’s Don.”
I think we’re going to like Powell!
I’d be remiss if I didn’t give another mention to the outing Jo-Jo Reyes had last night. He had a rocky first inning – a couple of walks, a wild pitch – but unlike so often last season, he figured his way out of it. As he said, instead of raring back to throw harder, he focused on a change in location, and started mixing in pitches inside. And the result was getting out of that inning without a run scoring on his way to retiring 10 batters in a row.
He threw 24 pitches in the first inning, 24 in the next three. Reyes sounds like a guy who is turning a corner, and pitching a little smarter. The Braves are noticing.
“I think he’s gaining a lot of confidence,” Cox said. “He’s hitting his spots so much better, changing speeds. I think confidence is a big factor in his development.”
I’m not sure what all this means for him, since there’s not a rotation spot open, and I doubt the Braves want him pitching out of the bullpen. So it’s probably Gwinnett, unless something unforeseen happens, or maybe he becomes a valuable trade piece.
Jair Jurrjens is on the mound today, trying to get a little more comfortable with things this spring. He seems like a kid who’s pretty hard on himself and he’s obviously not happy with command of his fastball in his first two outings, including a simulated game on Monday.
So we’ll see if he’s put a few things together, and see if he can continue a pretty nice streak of 12 consecutive innings by Braves starters without allowing a hit. (Hey, no pressure.)
I don’t think the Braves are concerned about Jurrjens at all, but you’re used to seeing JJ with a smile on his face.
If anybody wants to keep us updated on the U.S. vs Canada game today, be my guest. That’d be great.
Josh Anderson CF
Kelly Johnson 2B
Casey Kotchman 1B
Greg Norton DH
Jeff Francoeur RF
Yunel Escobar SS
Matt Diaz LF
Omar Infante 3B
David Ross C
Jair Jurrjens P
Johnny Damon LF
Melky Cabrera CF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Hideki Matsui DH
Xavier Nady RF
Cody Ransom SS
Justin Leone 3B
Ramiro Pena 2B
P.J. Pilittere C
Chien-Ming Wang P