OK, first thing’s first. Turn On Your TV! Your radio! Your webcast! The game is on!!! It’s a 12:10 p.m. start today – the one and only of the year at Turner Field, and no I’m not sure why, but I think it’s something they’re just experimenting with.
Actually, given the chill in the air the last two nights, an early start today is probably a good thing. The sun is shining. Looks to be a lovely day.
And speaking of the sun – hey, nice segue – apparently Derek Lowe had a bit of an issue with the setting sun shining in through the gap in the third base concourse last night. I hear Bobby Cox mentioned something in the post-game about it last night.
If you’ve ever sat along the right field line, you know about this. For the first few innings of the game it’s tough to see. You better have not only sunglasses, but a visor and maybe a newspaper to hold up over your eyes (hey, there are still uses for the printed word!)
Here’s what Bobby had to say about it this morning: “It’s always been a problem. Smoltz used to say he would pay for an awning of some kind. It causes problems from 7 o’clock to 7:45. I will talk to (head groundskeeper) Ed (Mangan) and see what he can do. It does it to right-handers. If you’re left-handed, you’re fine.”
Cox said it’s only an issue pitching from the stretch, when right-handers are staring into the sun. With a runner at second, it can be difficult, checking the runner and then going into your motion.
Eddie Perez pointed out the guy it might be hardest on is the first baseman, who has a tough time seeing on throws over from the mound.
ROSS ACTIVATED: And onto the business at hand, catcher David Ross was activated for today’s game and Clint Sammons packed his bags for Gwinnett. (At least for Sammons he’ll get to do some catching – he didn’t play in the first eight games here. And he’ll be in Gwinnett for the big stadium debut tomorrow night.)
Brian McCann will get his first day off from behind the plate. It’s not exactly well-timed with Chipper Jones out for the second consecutive game with his bruised thumb, but it’s well-timed if you ask McCann.
He’s ready for it, and he’s going to be smart about how he takes care of himself this year.
“I understand now that I’ve gotten a little older,” said McCann, a ripe ol’ 25. “I need days off early for September. I’m fine with taking the days and resting. I’m going to cherish the days off.”
McCann is hitting cleanup now, so it’s that much more of a deal that he’s out of the lineup when he’s off. But he’s not going to let that affect his decision-making in taking care of his body.
He tries not to make hitting cleanup a big deal anyway.
“I take the same approach as if I was hitting seventh, work the count and get a good pitch to hit,” he said.
Dropping the weight has helped him behind the plate, McCann said. And it’ll help him as the season goes on.
CHIPPER UPDATE: I checked in with Chipper this morning and he said he’s still looking at missing tomorrow’s first game in Pittsburgh, but after that he should be be day-to-day. He said the swelling has down some in his sore left thumb but it still looks kinda puffy to me.
“I’ve got no top hand,” he said. “I can’t swing left-handed. Maybe right-handed, but why mess with it? I keep aggravating it. I (need to) let it heal and get rid of it.”
There are two left-handers going in the Pittsburgh series – left-hander Paul Maholm on Friday and left-hander Zach Duke on Sunday. I’d think that might come into play for Chipper more on Sunday. From what he’s saying, tomorrow is out either way.
And some musings, I know we all saw Mike Hampton and his six shutout innings last night for the Astros in a 4-1 win over Pittsburgh. We knew that was coming, didn’t we? And Ken Griffey Jr. hit his 400th homer as a Mariner last night. He joins Chipper Jones as the only active players with at least 400 homers with one team.
The Braves need to win today to avoid their first ever three-game sweep at the hands of the Marlins at Turner Field. In May of 1997, the Braves lost a two-game series at home to the Marlins.
P.S. DOB and the rest of the sports staff are in a big meeting this afternoon downtown to learn about how things will work in our re-organized newsroom. Me? I’ll just be blogging with you guys. We’ll figure out the rest later!
1. Kelly Johnson 2B
2. Omar Infante 3B
3. Yunel Escobar SS
4. Garret Anderson LF
5. Casey Kotchman 1B
6. Jeff Francoeur RF
7. Jordan Schafer CF
8. David Ross C
9. Kenshin Kawakami P