Archive for March, 2009

Anderson’s jogging, D. Lowe is pitching and Glav’s on the horizon

Editor’s note: Due to technical difficulties, Carroll Rogers is unable to respond to requests in this blog.

   Lake Buena Vista, Fla. - Either it’s getting to be about that time in spring training, or it’s the day game after a night game thing, but it seems a little quiet around here this morning at Disney’s Wide World of Sports.

   (Here’s your clue it’s CR today and not DOB, no Dark Star reference. Can’t claim that one.)

   Early in spring when you walk by the batting cages beyond center field, they’re bustling with activity. Not this morning. All was quiet, and I was actually early. Weird concept.

   Right on top of things, my first day back on the beat in a while. I just found out the Braves didn’t have to be here until 10. Bobby Cox gave them a few hours to sleep. That’s why they love him.

   Just dropped DOB off at the airport so he can go enjoy a weekend of Rock Chalk. My Dookies are safely into the second round, and I can work distraction-free today. Staying up late …

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Night game for surging Bravos

  Lake Buena Vista, Fla. – The surging Braves have a night game at Dark Star, which meant last night was an all-night swingin’ soiree at the AJC rental mansion here in picturesque Kissimmee.
  Or not.
  Actually, I fell asleep watching Damages at about 10:30 p.m., a couple hours after driving back from Port St. Lucie, where the Braves won yet again (ho hum, right?) as they move closer to clinching the coveted Grapefruit League title.
  (Fortunately, they replay Damages on FX in early-morning hours, and I woke at about 1 or 2 and the show was in almost the same spot where I fell asleep watching it hours earlier. I kid you not. So I finished watching it.)

Glenn Close = good Damage

Glenn Close = good Damage

   We’ll get this blog up now and update you later today with news on rehabbing guys and WBC pitchers returning to camp, when they’ll see their next Grapefruit League action and all that.
  Meanwhile, about that mythical title…. We mention the Grapefruit League title sort of sarcastically, because it …

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Hanson vs. Wright-less Mets

  Port St. Lucie, Fla. – Greetings from the spring epicenter of Metdom, where the Braves and uber prospect Tommy Hanson will face longtime Braves punching bag Livan Hernandez today under a threatening sky.
   Livan years ago handled the Bravos well in the postseason (3-0, 1.89 ERA in three games, two of those in 1997), but otherwise struggles to an inexplicable degree against them, with a 3-15 record and 5.52 ERA in 25 regular-season games.
   Then again, why am I reciting regular-season or playoff stats when this is a spring-training game, and Livan, of all people, is not one to put a lot of emphasis on spring results.

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    Besides, he’ll barely recognize most of the Braves in this lineup, which doesn’t have Chipper (rehabbing his oblique at Dark Star), McCann (advancing on to …

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Top o’ the morning at Dark Star

  Lake Buena Vista, Fla. – A pot of gold to all of you on St. Pat’s Day, and you’ll be pleased to know that Dale Murphy is in the house. Showed up today at Dark Star. No, not for St. Pat’s, but good timing nonetheless."MURPH"
  Then again, it’s always good timing when Murph comes to camp or a Braves game in Atlanta or on the road. He’s in uniform today, in his No. 3, and judging from reactions when he came on the field, you’d have thought someone was arriving with, well, pots of gold.
  Bobby Cox’s face lit up and they greeted each other like brothers who hadn’t seen each other in a while. Coaches and the group of players who were hitting in batting cage, including Garret Anderson and Casey Kotchman, smiled as they came over to shake his hand. Jeff Francoeur hugged him.
   Yes, Murphy is as popular as he ever was around the team. If you’ve met him, you know why. On top of being one of the great Braves to ever play in Atlanta, he’s at least a good a guy as he was a player. Total …

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Lowe faces desperate ‘Stros



  Dark Star, Fla. – Good morning from Lake Buena Vista, where the temp’s already in the 70s and the sun is shining as Braves players filter in from the parking lot beyond left field here at Champion Stadium.
    It’s 10 a.m. The fellas were given a rare morning to sleep in after the overnight trip to Jupiter, which nearly the entire team made.
     Just now I was transcribing some interviews I did in Jupiter this weekend, and while Tony Perez is speaking in his distinct Cuban accent, he’s nearly drowned out by Lynryd Skynyrd’s “Tuesday’s Gone” that was blasting on the stadium speakers in the background as we talked by the batting cage. The beauty of baseball’s melting pot never ceases to make me smile.

   Anyway, about today’s game… The Astros are busing the 12 or so miles over from their spring compound to take on the Bravos today here at Disneyopolis, with Derek Lowe facing former Braves prospect Jose Capellan.
    Believe it or not, Capellan and another …

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Schafer, other Braves kids shining

   Jupiter, Fla – The Braves are going to lose again, and probably soon. They are. That’s the way it works.
That said, you gotta say it’s been an impressive first month of spring training for the Bravos, even if you believe this stuff down here means next to nothing in the big picture.
   The Braves have avoided major injuries and produced strong pitching and improved hitting while reeling off 10 consecutive wins since their two best players left for the World Baseball Classic.
   When Chipper Jones and Brian McCann return, this really does have the potential to be a solid lineup top-to-bottom.Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.
    And that’s not to mention Garret Anderson, whose absence is easy to overlook because he hurt his calf before ever actually playing his first Grapefruit League game, and also because Matt Diaz and the young guys have played so well that left field looks to be in good hands regardless.
Speaking of young guys, Jordan Schafer is the …

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Hanson on hill in Jupiter

  Jupiter, Fla. – Coming to you from planet Jupiter, where two things are quickly apparent: The Marlins don’t draw as well as the Cardinals at this complex the teams share, and most around this area wouldn’t know Tommy Hanson from Tommy Hutton, the Marlins broadcaster who runs a baseball camp here.

  My 2-hour-plus drive down was fueled by Red Bull and three CDs — Jamey Johnson’s That Lonesome Song, Lucinda Williams’ Little Honey,  and Mastodon’s massive Blood Mountain. (Hey, when that turnpike is getting boring and you’re fading despite caffeine, there’s nothing like the roar of Atlanta’s own Mastodon to jar your senses. Currently the best metal band in the world, in my opinion, Metallica included.)

   Anyway, on to today’s game: Jupiterians might not know him, but you all certainly know young Mr. Hanson, or are getting to know him. He’s toeing the slab again today, and when Tommy toes it, we pay attention. After all, we haven’t seen a Braves pitching prospect like this in …

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Diaz looking tough, hitting strong

 Lake Buena Vista, Fla. — For the second time in three springs, Matt Diaz looked like a hockey player this morning. Sans a playoff beard.

 Diaz smiled this morning to reveal to me his chipped front tooth. And I don’t mean a slight chip. We’re talking the bottom half of the tooth was gone.

 Or, rather, the cap was gone.  

Matt Di ... er, Gino Odjick

Matt Di … er, Gino Odjick

 And it all looked familiar.

 For those who might not remember, Diaz’s tooth was chipped near the end of 2007 spring training when he got struck accidentally by Chris Woodward’s bat near the batting cage before a Grapefruit League game.

 He’s had a cap on it since, but that cap got broken Wednesday when Diaz used his teeth to remove a bottle cap. Hey, even intelligent folks do less-than-intelligent things.

 “It was stupid,” Diaz said, shaking his head and smiling.

 Former hockey player Tom Glavine told Diaz that he looked like a hockey player.

 And he did.

 But when Diaz told me what Glavine had said, he did so in a voice that …

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Schafer rejoins CF race, Jo-Jo back on mound

  Clearwater, Fla. – Back on duty here at picturesque Bright House Field, where the temp’s pushing 80 already, the sun is shining, the crowd is filling up the joint to see the defending World Series champions take on the Bravos.

  Took the keys (literally) from Carroll yesterday at the airport, pulled away in the Chevy Malibu, had to fire up a Padron to get that nice, clean smell out of the car after she’d driven it for the past eight days.

  Jordan Schafer’s been out of the lineup even longer than I was, and he returns today, too — he’s batting second and playing center field, and Bobby Cox told me he’d probably get at least a couple of at-bats in his first game back since spraining his left shoulder diving for a ball the Saturday before last.

  (By the way, every time I write defending World Series champions, reminds me how much the tables have turned with these teams in these past few years, Phillies becoming a regular contender, the Braves trying to get there again.)

Continue reading Schafer rejoins CF race, Jo-Jo back on mound »

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, …

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