Now that the storm is over, the power is back on (woohoo) and the Nationals are in the rearview mirror, it’s time to get serious again.
The Marlins are in town for a three-game series starting today with Vazquez vs. Volstad, a very vivacious, vaunted, vicious match-up. (OK I’ll stop). We’ve heard aplenty about the Marlins rotation. Bobby Cox raved about them in spring. This will be no foolin, to see how the Braves lineup matches up. And it’ll put that .300 team average to the test.
(It’s Derek Lowe vs. Andrew Miller on Wednesday night and Kawakami vs. Anibal Sanchez on Thursday. And don’t forget Thursday is a 12:10 p.m. start. Bizarre but true.)
And yes, the Braves are currently hitting .300 as a team, which leads the National League and is fourth in the majors behind Toronto (.322), Tampa Bay (.304) and Baltimore (.303).
Some Marlins to keep an eye on? How about second baseman turned third baseman Emilio Bonifacio, who is off to an electric start for his new team since being traded from the Nationals in the offseason. He went 4-for-5 on Opening Day for the Fish, including an inside-the-park home run over Lastings Milledge’s head. He’s hitting .500 (14-for-28) for the season and that’s including an 0-for-4 on Sunday against Johan Santana and the Mets.
There’s lot of talk of his blazing speed, like this from Marlins personnel guy Dan Jennings, who told Mike Berardino of the Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel and our notes group: “He’s in the top five in all of baseball for pure speed.”
Bonifacio is a switch-hitter, and Jennings has him running a 3.9 to first base from the right side, and 3.68 from the left. Ichiro Suzuki is the standard and he runs a 3.6 from the left-handed batter’s box. So there you go.
Also, look for Hanley Ramirez in the clutch: He’s tied for third in the National League, batting .667 (6-for-9) with runners in scoring position. You should know who’s first in the National League: hey, Mr. Money: Yunel Escobar is batting .778 (7-for-9) with RISP to lead another money man: Albert Pujols .750 (3-for-4).
And for giggles, guess who’s leading the American League in batting average with runners in scoring position? Andruw Jones is 4-for-4. That’s 1.000, and that ties him with Brian Roberts of Baltimore, who is 4-for-4 as well.
GLAVINE WATCH: Tom Glavine was going to see Dr. James Andrews this morning to check on the soreness he’s feeling in his left shoulder. He was planning to update us when he gets to the ballpark this afternoon.
It’s hard to know what to expect but I hope for his sake it’s just scar tissue breaking up. If it’s something worse than that, and the shoulder is not going to let him keep pitching, then I know this, that Glavine has nothing to hang his head about.
Like he has said, he gave it everything he had to get back. He didn’t want to go down the way he did last year. So he had the surgery and has been working his tail off in his rehab. We’ll see what happens, but even if it’s bad, he’s got a lot more going for him than just pitching.
He’s a great guy, has a tremendous family life, and he’ll be fine. And if this is it, then we’ll see him go into the Hall of Fame in five years with Greg Maddux.
REYES PROMOTION: So Jo-Jo Reyes gets the call for Saturday in Pittsburgh in place of Glavine. The Braves weren’t going to rush Tommy Hanson up, get his arbitration clock rolling when they don’t know what to expect with Glavine just yet.
Reyes was chosen over Charlie Morton because of the work he did this spring, the improvements he showed in mound presence and command of the strike zone, and probably also because he had a full spring to build up (Morton had a late start because of an oblique injury). Plus he’s left-handed, and the Braves have four righties in the starting rotation at the moment.
Last year it seemed like Reyes got so many opportunities to make an impression and build himself a foundation in the major leagues and just couldn’t. He ended the season with a seven-game losing streak, with a 7.81 ERA over 12 starts. It seemed pretty much the same routine. He’d have some good innings, and show his potential, but then have things blow up on him in a big inning, featuring lots of walks.
Well, it seems like Reyes took things to heart this winter and really set about trying to get himself right. He had a really solid spring 2-0, with a 2.08 ERA in four games, including three starts. He was more confident on the mound, not trying to nibble as much, and the other day when I spoke to him in Gwinnett, he pointed this out: He told me he was going out there with the mindset that he wanted to try to get hitters out in three pitches.
That shows you that he’s thinking more aggressively. We’ll see how he does on Saturday. Good for him.
OK more updates from the ballyard. Glad to be back online today from the home front.