Soriano takes mound for first time this spring

   KISSIMMEE - I’ve got the press box to myself at the moment, as I get a head start on my blog from the Astros camp in Kissimmee. This is a place we’ve come so much over the years it almost feels like home.

 

   I can look out over the field – great view here, from the press box, you’re really low; it might be an old park but they’ve renovated it nicely – and lots of spring training memories come to mind.

   I remember when Greg Maddux got hit on the toe here the last start before the season started. Pitched through it somehow and I think he got on a serious roll to start the season despite it. Think I recall watching Mark Wohlers try to do his thing here, when things were wobbly.

   Seeing Billy Wagner and his 100 mph fastball here, back when he was a redneck pitching for a Southern team – hey, it fit better. For some reason, I always kind of feel at home around the Astros. I think their organization is run similarly to the Braves. Same kind of atmosphere, professionally, and maybe it’s has something to do with the cities, and the people, being so similar. Course Houston takes humid to a whole new level. Plane lands in Houston and the windows are fogging up.

   Or hey, maybe we’re just so dang familiar with the Astros from all those Division Series games. The killer Bees. Etc.

   Anyway, I’ll get on with it. It’s getaway day for me. I hand the baton back to David O’Brien at the end of the day, so you guys can go back to feeling right with the world, with his photo and his words on the page. I appreciate the hospitality this week!

   Today we’ve got Rafael Soriano scheduled to pitch his spring opener. (Derek Lowe to start.) Gosh, I can’t remember the last time I saw Soriano pitch in a game. Just more like waiting in the dugout for him to come back from a bullpen session, testing his elbow and saying things went OK, not great.

   You hope for his sake the ulnar nerve transposition surgery did the trick. Last year had to be frustrating for him – 14 innings all season. And really I think it compounded how things looked for him because of how reserved he is with the media and the language barrier. Hard to be compassionate with someone when you can’t tell where he’s coming from, you know?

   He’s taken his share of heat on this blog. And he’s making a lot of money, so the frustration is understandable. But this is a pivotal guy for the Braves. If they can get him going healthy, it would be a big lift. Remember him in 2007? He made 71 appearances, got nine saves in 12 opportunities. He had 70 strikeouts in 72 innings and an opponents’ batting average of .181.

   It will be interesting to see what he has today. I’ll keep you posted.

 

   FIRST CUTS: Braves announced their first round of cuts today. Rafael Cruz, Emiliano Fruto and Juan Perez were all reassigned to minor league camp. Anthony Lerew was released. That’s interesting given that the Braves had out-righted Lerew to make room on the 40-man roster for Glavine and he’d cleared waivers and accepted a AAA assignment. I’ll try to find out more, but basically I just don’t think Lerew was in the Braves plans.  

   And let me talk about Jason Heyward for just a second. Watching Heyward this spring, and the balls jump off his bat, you think slugger. Every time he’s at the plate, it seems like there’s the chance he’ll go deep – at least in intrasquad games anyway, where he’s taken both Jair Jurrjens and Kenshin Kawakami well over the fences.

   I was just thinking, recalling a story I did on Heyward last summer when he was in Rome, where he was hitting for average and not much power yet (He hit 11 homers in 120 games for Rome last year, batting .323). And I recall comments from the Braves brass like “If he stays within himself, the power will come.”

   Well, holy smokes, the power is here. Eh? Maybe he’s just physically growing into that 6-4, 220 frame of his. And at 19, there’s more room to grow.

   Here’s Frank Wren’s take on it, when I posed it to him this morning:

   “Most young players, you’d prefer them to be a good hitter before they’re a power hitter,” Wren said. “Most of the time if you get the power stroke before the hitting stroke, sometimes the hitting stroke never comes. He has a good idea what he wants to do at the plate, (and this is) his natural progression, with some help.”

   Wren pointed to the work minor league hitting coordinator Leon Roberts did with him in instructional league.

   “Leon Roberts spent a lot of time with him this fall, helping him understand how to get some balls elevated,” Wren said. “He really hit a lot of hard line drives last year and how he could get a little more into it, a little more elevation in some of his swings. And I’m not talking about an uppercut, I’m talking about a little more elevation that would allow his power to start showing, and I think we’re seeing the results of that.”

   Heyward said he’s about 10 pounds heavier this year than last season, he said. He also thinks he’s progressing mentally.

   “I’m just getting more repetition, getting more comfortable with my ability,” Heyward said. “I’m not thinking too much, playing baseball and having a great time and letting what I worked on in the offseason help me.”

 

   Bobby Cox was doing an interview with XM Radio this morning and said he thought Garret Anderson would be out two to three weeks, maybe longer. When it was over, I followed up with Cox about that. He said: “could be shorter too.” They just don’t know. I guess the take-home message is regardless of how many weeks – two, three – the Braves figure on getting Anderson back in time for Opening Day and that’s the key.

 

   I went over the Astros clubhouse and tried to get a dose of Mike Hampton for you guys. Some of you, between bashing him, remember he’s funny, right? But between his lunch, and then a team meeting, all I got was a quick hello. But I tried. Fair enough?

   There were a couple other familiar faces in that clubhouse: Russ Ortiz and Chad Paronto.

 

   OK lineups:

 

BRAVES

 

Josh Anderson CF

Matt Diaz LF

Kelly Johnson 2B

Casey Kotchman 1B

Jeff Francoeur RF

Omar Infante SS

Martin Prado 3B

David Ross C

Derek Lowe P

 

ASTROS

 

Kaz Matsui 2B

Michael Bourn CF

Lance Berkman 1B

Carlos Lee LF

Hunter Pence RF

Jason Smith SS

Aaron Boone 3B

JR Towles C

Brian Moehler P

 

 

879 comments Add your comment

cafleming

March 10th, 2009
1:01 pm

Great post, Carroll..I enjoyed reading your post and you did great job!

cphizzle

March 10th, 2009
1:02 pm

YEEEEE HAWWWWWWW!!!!!!! Lets plays some ball folks!

cphizzle

March 10th, 2009
1:06 pm

crickets…………

18 Wheels of Love

March 10th, 2009
1:07 pm

Peterbilt

Peterbilt

Jeff321

March 10th, 2009
1:10 pm

Carroll Rogers – How long have you been covering the Braves? Do you remember when the Astros used to have spring training in Cocoa?

20 out

March 10th, 2009
1:10 pm

Got a head start on the blog, eh? How about a head start on Spell Check? geeez!

YankeeDawg

March 10th, 2009
1:11 pm

wow, new post

Maddux

March 10th, 2009
1:12 pm

Carroll, good work this week. Ill take that winning streak of yours during the regular season.

cphizzle

March 10th, 2009
1:12 pm

spell check is for nerds!!!

Carroll Rogers

March 10th, 2009
1:13 pm

Kelly reached on a two-out error by Lance Berman, a two-base error with the speedy Johnson. He’s up for Kotchman …….game time temp 81. Nice day!

Only radio today is Houston radio. So maybe XM is best bet

ArkyTech

March 10th, 2009
1:13 pm

Nice post, Carroll. My memory of Astros camp is CC Sabathia in 2004. My brother and I watched him leg out a bunt single (he was still a young A.L guy at the time), then saw him lumber around the bases throughout the inning until he eventually scored. I remember that more than his pitching that day!

ncscoots

March 10th, 2009
1:13 pm

Too bad about Lerew; I really thought he might be the surprise of camp this year, if he were rehabbed all the way back and had that sinker going. No room at the inn and too far down the depth chart, I suppose.

Might as well call Dayton Moore, I reckon, LOL.

Carroll Rogers

March 10th, 2009
1:14 pm

Right on cue, Kotchman RBI single, Braves up 1-0

PWHjort

March 10th, 2009
1:14 pm

Sor-E-ahn-O!

Jeff321

March 10th, 2009
1:15 pm

Studly Kotchman with a base hit and drives in a run, eh!

cphizzle

March 10th, 2009
1:15 pm

well its all on you Ms. Carroll for the play by play duties…keep it coming please mam

Seymour1948

March 10th, 2009
1:15 pm

I think Kotchman is going to show this year why the Braves wanted him. I expect good numbers from him.

PWHjort

March 10th, 2009
1:18 pm

I do too Seymour. I also expect a good year from Escobar.

Greg Smith

March 10th, 2009
1:18 pm

Carroll I love your blogs. But I just saw your picture on top of the blog aand darlin it’s time for a makeover!

Seymour1948

March 10th, 2009
1:19 pm

Jeff321

March 10th, 2009
1:19 pm

cphizzle

March 10th, 2009
1:20 pm

from the looks of things Kotch is going to be as advertised before the trade went down last year. i think he just had a tough time adjusting to a new town and new team last year.

PWHjort

March 10th, 2009
1:20 pm

Francoeur comes from behind 0-2, draws a 2-out walk, then Infante comes up with a triple. Nice at-bat for Francoeur.

Carroll Rogers

March 10th, 2009
1:20 pm

Braves score two more on a triple down the right field line by Omar Infante….Jeff Francoeur walked in between Kotchman and Infante. Took a couple shots to right field, hard hit low liners but foul, then took his walk….

Braves up 3-0, all three runs with two outs.

Seymour1948

March 10th, 2009
1:21 pm

I think our bench is also going to be as solid as any in the league.

PWHjort

March 10th, 2009
1:21 pm

The problem with Kotchman is that the Angels organization poisons the minds of their hitters teaching them to be free-swingers. Hopefully he can get away from that mentality and learn to draw a walk or two.

stupup74

March 10th, 2009
1:22 pm

Kotchman hit pretty well in the last month last year. I hope he carries that over into this season.

PWHjort

March 10th, 2009
1:22 pm

And yes, Seymour. David Ross, Greg Norton, Omar Infante, Martin Prado, and Matt Diaz is a bench most teams would KILL to have.

Poorjeff

March 10th, 2009
1:22 pm

I just love a smart a@@= 20 out!

Great job Carroll!

Seymour1948

March 10th, 2009
1:23 pm

PWHjort,

You think Vlad rubs off on them?

flange1

March 10th, 2009
1:23 pm

Carroll,

Thanks for all of your hard work. We appreciate the effort that you put into the good old blog!

Jeff321

March 10th, 2009
1:23 pm

Kotchman had 107 hits for the Angels last year in 100 games… Which is why I think he’s going to lead this team in hits.

stupup74

March 10th, 2009
1:25 pm

Kotchman is a contact type of guy. He struck out at a higher rate when he first came over than the average over his career. He seemed to get that fixed in September. He seemed to be trying to do to much when he first came over power wise. If he ’stays in his shoes’ when he is at the plate and use his gap to gap power, he could really help this lineup because he usually puts the ball in play.

spotts

March 10th, 2009
1:25 pm

Chad Paronto…I forgot about him. Dude is HUGE

cabravesfan

March 10th, 2009
1:26 pm

PWHjort-

Kotchman is not a “free swinger” in the typical sense- No he does not walk a lot, but he doesn’t take that big loose swing guys like, say Vlad Guerrero…Kotchman makes good contact and does not strike out (39 times in 525 ab’s last year)

PWHjort

March 10th, 2009
1:26 pm

Seymour, Vladimir Guerrero is the prototypical Angels hitter. They basically built their entire franchise around his hitting philosophy.

DunderChief

March 10th, 2009
1:26 pm

Francoeur hit two hard to the opposite field then walked? Did we sign someone else named Francoeur? Well, if she is really talking about Jeff, sounds good to me. Now I see that Jeff is actually leading the team in walks… guess he’s taking a different approach this year. Should be interesting.

Brandon

March 10th, 2009
1:27 pm

Besides Lowe and Soriano who is in line to pitch today?

PWHjort

March 10th, 2009
1:27 pm

Cabravesfan I agree. Kotchman does make good contact. I just wish he would take a few more walks. I’ve got no real complaints with his hitting though. I think he’s going to have a huge year.

Carroll Rogers

March 10th, 2009
1:29 pm

Somebody want to tell me what I misspelled so i can fix it and move on? It’s either that or some play by play….

Derek Lowe got a groundout and a strikeout to start. Just got Lance Berkman to fling his bat into the stand, just above the Braves dugout

and no, only seen the Astros here.

Carroll Rogers

March 10th, 2009
1:30 pm

Then struck out Berkman. One perfect inning, 2Ks, 18 pitches, 12 strikes.

cabravesfan

March 10th, 2009
1:31 pm

PWHjort-

I think he will too…I wouldn’t mind a few more walks, but I’ll take 143 hits in 143 games any day:)

Jim

March 10th, 2009
1:31 pm

This is a good comment on the strength and depth of the Braves’ pitching this year. Guys like Paronto and Ortiz are not in this camp with any chance of ending up as one of the 12 men selected. The people battling for a spot on the roster are the likes of Hanson, Glavine, Reyes, Morton, Medlen, Acosta, and Marek.

Brandon

March 10th, 2009
1:31 pm

any word when Tommy Glavine will make his spring debut?

Sonny in Mechville too

March 10th, 2009
1:31 pm

It didn’t help that Kotchman’s mom was ill, he had to take that 2 week leave to be with her. That situation surely hindered his mindset.

Carroll Rogers

March 10th, 2009
1:32 pm

Boone Logan, Eric O’Flaherty, Steve Marek, Blaine Boyer, not necessarily in that order

Carroll Rogers

March 10th, 2009
1:33 pm

Derek Lowe just gave a ball a ride to center field for an out….that’s better than the foul ball to the visiting dugout he was predicting earlier, when warning Chino to watch out.

Andy

March 10th, 2009
1:36 pm

So was Heyward cut?

ncscoots

March 10th, 2009
1:36 pm

Angels organization poisons the minds of their hitters teaching them to be free-swingers

Well, they preach being aggressive in the zone, anyway; I guess you could call that “free swinging”. Not much power on that club in recent years, hence, the strategic philosophy of contact and hits, rather than walks and homers. Sciosia has to play the hand he’s dealt offensively, and rely on his pitching to create run differential.

Maddux

March 10th, 2009
1:37 pm

play by play is more important than spelling!

DAP

March 10th, 2009
1:40 pm

kotchman is hitting cleanup alot in the spring, hunh? i wonder if he is seen as an option there during the regular season. he would surely knock in alot of runs in that spot.

beachcomber

March 10th, 2009
1:40 pm

Anybody know who we will see start for the Braves in Clearwater tomorrow? Was hoping to show off Hanson to my seatmates but saw he threw Sunday.

Phil Jonez

March 10th, 2009
1:42 pm

MLB online – anyone else trying to listen to the game on MLB and having problems? I can’t get the audio to work and not sure if it’s my issue or an MLB issue.

Carroll Rogers

March 10th, 2009
1:42 pm

Glavine is set to throw a simulated game on Monday.

Got an explanation from Frank on Lerew release. The move to outright him was to create roster space and then the release this early was because he wasn’t in the mix for Atlanta and Gwinnett and this allows him enough time to sign on with someone else.

Shoot, the Gwinnett pitching staff is gonna be something else. Here are some of the arms that could be in the rotation there: Tommy Hanson, Jorge Campillo, Jo-Jo Reyes, Charlie Morton, James Parr, Todd Redmond. See, I’m already at six.

Rumor is the Braves are going to wear their blue jerseys as their primary road jersey this year. Oy, their luck better change. ….and I also hear they’ll be wearing solid blue helmets, not blue with red brims.

Lowe just set them down in order in a perfect second inning – eight pitches, seven strikes. He’s cookin.

DAP

March 10th, 2009
1:43 pm

jimThis is a good comment on the strength and depth of the Braves’ pitching this year. Guys like Paronto and Ortiz are not in this camp with any chance of ending up as one of the 12 men selected.

youre right, especially by the braves, since they are in the astros organization now.

PWHjort

March 10th, 2009
1:43 pm

DAP. I don’t think so. Though I’m of the philosophy that line-ups don’t really matter, I don’t think they’ll bat Kotchman 4th. Beachcomber, I believe it is Jo Jo Reyes’ turn on tomorrow. The rotation goes Jo Jo, Jair, Hanson, Kawakami, Lowe. Unless they’re working on a 6-man rotation, which I don’t think they are.

Sonny in Mechville too

March 10th, 2009
1:43 pm

double for Diaz

Carroll Rogers

March 10th, 2009
1:44 pm

Diaz just smoked a ball to left center for a double and scored on KJ’s single. 4-0 Braves

Maddux

March 10th, 2009
1:44 pm

NOOOOO. not those unlucky blue jerseys!!!!

Sonny in Mechville too

March 10th, 2009
1:44 pm

single for Kelly…Diaz scored

Jeff321

March 10th, 2009
1:45 pm

I have been listening to the MLB feed since the start with no problems.

Nick

March 10th, 2009
1:46 pm

Maddux – My thoughts exactly. Did anything good happen with those dang blue jerseys last year???

Carroll Rogers

March 10th, 2009
1:46 pm

Jo-Jo Reyes vs. Kendrick tomorrow in Clearwater.

Brandon

March 10th, 2009
1:46 pm

Lowe is rolling. Is Jair Jurjens set to pitch anytime soon?

PWHjort

March 10th, 2009
1:47 pm

Jurrjens should pitch Thursday.

leland

March 10th, 2009
1:47 pm

Dear Ms Rogers–I didn’t see nothing mizpelled. Your pal, Leland

Original Jon

March 10th, 2009
1:48 pm

Man oh man, I have a great feeling about Lowe, I am not sure how to explain it, but it just feels like he is going to be dominant this year. I can honestly see 18-19 wins with an ERA around 3 this year.

PWHjort

March 10th, 2009
1:48 pm

The rotation goes like this: Jo Jo Reyes Tomorrow, Jurrjens Thursday, Hanson Friday, Kawakami Saturday, Lowe Sunday, repeat. When Vazquez is back from the WBC he’ll be in the mix somewhere.

Maddux

March 10th, 2009
1:48 pm

Nothing good happened with those jersey’s. our season just self destructed.

Gil In Mechanicsville

March 10th, 2009
1:49 pm

Of course they are going to use those blue jerseys. A lot of them are still on the shelf after last season. And many new names to pick from.

Nice lead Carroll, going to be a big year for Gwinnett. So many young arms, so few places to play. Good problem to have.

Big Kev

March 10th, 2009
1:50 pm

Frenchy has more walks this spring than I htink he did all last year. If the patience stays and the storke works out, things are going to really turn around. I have to say, he definitely has a different mindset at the plate.

Logic

March 10th, 2009
1:50 pm

Come on, if we’re gonna find something to blame last years bad luck on, surely we can find something better than “THE BLUE ROAD JERSEY”. Get real.

Brandon

March 10th, 2009
1:50 pm

I prefer the Blue Jerseys.

pete smith

March 10th, 2009
1:50 pm

Who starts tomorrow in Clearwater, is it JJ’ time or K-san.

LJ

March 10th, 2009
1:50 pm

How is Vazquez doing in the Classic?

Josh B

March 10th, 2009
1:50 pm

Hahaha I love how we have all of this promise until they announce the blue jerseys, and now we are going to suck again. Honestly, I thought the same thing

pete smith

March 10th, 2009
1:50 pm

LTBravesFan

March 10th, 2009
1:51 pm

Do we know of any radio for tomorrow’s game?

Speaking of which, is there anywhere to find a radio/TV schedule for the spring games?

Brandon

March 10th, 2009
1:52 pm

any updates on Frechy?

Runnin

March 10th, 2009
1:52 pm

The play-by-play guy for the Astros is corny all-get-out.

mbatl

March 10th, 2009
1:53 pm

Another guy to be optimistic about is Matt Diaz. He’s raking so far… and we know he has that ability.

UGA FAN 84

March 10th, 2009
1:54 pm

is there anywhere to listen to the game on the internet? besides mlb.com!

MiamiBrave

March 10th, 2009
1:54 pm

Blue Jerseys may have been bad luck last season…but I love them

I have one, bought it as soon as it was available last season after the opener in Washington

Wear it to most of the games…I dig em

beachcomber

March 10th, 2009
1:54 pm

Carroll/PWHjort – Thanks!

winterville

March 10th, 2009
1:55 pm

It says that Kotchman got replaced by Norton on the play by play. Does anyone know if this was scheduled or did he tweak something?

Carroll Rogers

March 10th, 2009
1:55 pm

Derek Lowe has pitched a perfect game through three. The third inning he threw 16 pitches, 12 for strikes.

Phil Jonez

March 10th, 2009
1:55 pm

Thanks Jeff321 – suspect it’s an office firewall issue, although I’ve never had problems in the past. Thanks!!!!

DAP

March 10th, 2009
1:55 pm

i like the blue jerseys too, but i also love the old school gray ones.

but its a new year, the blue jersey curse wont necessarily carry over.

Carroll Rogers

March 10th, 2009
1:56 pm

That’s 42 pitches in three innings. 31 for strikes.

PWHjort

March 10th, 2009
1:56 pm

Kotchman gets taken out after 2 at bats every game. It’s standard. Norton needs some AB’s too.

TheManMike

March 10th, 2009
1:57 pm

YEAY – I actually dig the Blues…..Im not one to beleive in superstition anyhow….well, i do HATE the Sunday Reds….i must say. I feel like everytime i see those damned red jerseys its effin hot outside and we lose miserably. This has just been my experience….SO GO BLUES!

zephyr8

March 10th, 2009
1:57 pm

I like the blue jerseys. Lets just forget about what happened last year. Now the red sunday jerseys…not so much.

PWHjort

March 10th, 2009
1:57 pm

Haha check this out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DzCazZALPlQ
Funny video. Disclaimer: I don’t endorse it, I just think it’s hilarious.

UGA FAN 84

March 10th, 2009
1:59 pm

I would have to agree, the Braves could have went out in the old Red Sox uniform last year and it really wouldn’t have made a difference. It was not the blue tops that gave them bad luck. What about the year before? Oh it must have been the white home jersey or wait was it the grey away jersey?

rupert

March 10th, 2009
1:59 pm

I prefer the blues, they got on a roll with them late last year if yall can remember.

JEZ

March 10th, 2009
1:59 pm

oh man I love the red jerseys. They look real sharp!

lewie

March 10th, 2009
1:59 pm

like to see them take advantage of the error

nice article as well

Stat junky

March 10th, 2009
2:00 pm

Carroll, i know this is not pertinent to your blog today but wanted to know that on the sortable player stats for spring training buddy carlyle has 3.1 innings. hasn’t he thrown at least 5? panama, astros, yankees already this spring?

PWHjort

March 10th, 2009
2:00 pm

The red jerseys are the best looking ones.

Brandon

March 10th, 2009
2:00 pm

I wish the Braves would go back to the throwbacks with light blue, red, white with the feathers on the shoulders.

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