K.J. is back, Conrad sent down

 

  If you’re Brooks Conrad, you’d be excused today for thinking something like, “Damn, what do I have to do to keep a spot on this team?”

Conrad

Conrad

Conrad was optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett this morning to make room for second baseman Kelly Johnson, who was activated from the disabled list two days before his rehab stint would have expired at Gwinnett.

 Conrad, a 29-year-old rookie, hit .344 (11-for-32) with two triples, two homers and eight RBI in 14 games for the Braves. The hard-nosed dude with the shaved head had a .382 OBP and .688 slugging percentage.

  When I asked him this morning if he’d been surprised when told he was being sent down, he smiled and said, “Yeah, a little bit. But, you know, it wasn’t that big a deal. I guess it’s a way they   can keep everyone.”

Johnson's back, but on bench

Johnson

  He meant that the Braves could keep veteran pinch-hitter Greg Norton, plus solid backup shortstop Diory Hernandez, and not use an option to send Kelly Johnson to the minors, which they would’ve had to do by Saturday to keep him.
  Some of us thought the Braves might drop Norton, who’s hit .111 (5-for-45) with no homers and four RBI, including 5-for-37 in the pinch-hitting role he’s here for.
  Others thought Hernandez might be sent back to Gwinnett, though shortstop is Martin Prado’s weakest position and Yunel Escobar has missed games for a recurring hip-flexor problem and back tightness this season.
  I asked Bobby Cox if the decision to send down Conrad was a difficult one.
  ”Very,” he said. “I thought about it all night. It was a hard one. He did very well. But this way, we keep everybody. Nothing like having a veteran pinch-hitter like Norton, and a backup guy like Diory.”
  Cox asked, hadn’t Norton led the league in pinch-hitting?
Indeed, Norton led the majors with three pinch-hit homers and 18 pinch-hit RBIs in 2008, batting .316 in 57 pinch-hit at-bats with the Braves and Seattle Mariners.
  All three pinch-hit homers and 17 RBIs came with the Braves after a May 5 trade from Seattle for minor-league lefty Nelson Payano.
  He hit .262 overall with seven homers and 35 RBIs in 187 at-bats during the season, and made 27 starts for the Braves including 15 in left field and six at first base.
  He hit .323 with five homers and a .462 on-base percentage in 62 at-bats after the All-Star break.
  And coming into this season, Norton led major league pinch-hitters with 13 homers and 64 RBIs since the beginning of the 2001 season.
  But man, has he struggled this year. Still, Cox (like most managers) has always preferred to have a proven, veteran pinch-hitter, since that is a role that few young players thrive in. Learning to prepare for pinch-hit at-bats and stay sharp while something going days without entering a game, is not easy.
  Norton hasn’t thrived in the role this season, but there’s still a lot of season left, and the Braves believe he can still get it turned around and help them for the stretch drive and possibly the postseason.
  When I entered the clubhouse this morning, there were only a few players there. The others were already on the field. And in one corner of the clubhouse, Norton was shaking hands with Conrad.   The two are similar, both guys who’ve paid their dues, who’be bounced around, and who never take anything for granted.
  Honestly, they’re two of the nicest, most-grounded guys you could ever meet in a major league clubhouse.

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  Conrad took the news far better than, say, I would have if I were in his shoes. I know that. He was as impressive in handling this bounce back to Gwinnett as he’s been in everything else he’s done this season, including his spring-training stint with the big-league club and his big-impact production while he’s been up during the Braves’ best stretch of baseball all season.

  ”I’ll just go down and do my thing and hopefully get another shot up here,” he said. “It was a great few weeks. I was glad I was able to come up and contribute to the team. We played good baseball. It was a great experience.
  ”It’s going to be an exciting second half for the Braves. I’ll keep my fingers crossed and hopefully I can be part of that later on.”
  Cox indicated there was a good chance we’d see him again. When I asked him if Conrad had done all he could do while he was here, the manager said, “Yes, he did. He’s a great kid.”
  Cox made it clear that Prado would continue as the starting second baseman for now, and won’t disrupt the lineup while the team is surging. The Braves have won 15 of 21 games and six of seven since the All-Star break before today’s series finale against the Giants.
  ”It’s been the whole ball of wax this homestand,” Cox said. “Hopefully we get the brooms out today and sweep these guys.”
 The Braves will try to beat Barry Zito to finish a four-game sweep and 7-1 homestand.
  Prado’s been one of the Braves’ hottest hitters, batting .386 with 10 doubles, two homers, 12 RBI, 19 runs and a 1.011 OPS in 20 games since moving into the regular lineup June 30.
   The Braves have averaged 5.6 runs in those 20 games, after averaging 3.4 runs during the previous 24 games (9-15 record). Teammmates and Cox point to Prado’s production in the 2-hole, and Escobar’s work, as keys to the turnaround.

  ♣ K.J. feels rejuvenated: Meanwhile, Johnson is back after hitting .308 with two doubles, two triples, two homers and 16 RBI in 13 games at Gwinnett, where he posted a .339 OBP and robust .596 slugging percentage (.935 OPS).
 It was a welcome respite for the second baseman, who lost his starting job to Martin Prado after hitting .214 with five homers and 20 RBIs in 68 games for the Braves and was DL’d (strained wrist) and sent to Gwinnett at the end of June.
  ”Everything worked out,” Johnson said. “I got to take care of my wrist first, and once I got back, that felt way better and I just worked on some stuff with my swing. I wasn’t feeling good before. I was nice to take some time and kind of relax, and go up to the plate feeling better.”
  Johnson said both wrists had been bothering him at times since last season. Not excruciating pain, but nagging soreness, particularly in the right wrist. He got cortisone injections in a few spots in that wrist after being DL’d, then rested for four days before playing for Gwinnett.
  He said the wrist problem was alleviated by the rest and rehab.
  He also seems to have the right frame of mind coming back, knowing that Prado has earned the right to continue as the regular second baseman unless something changes significantly.
  Johnson said he’s not worried about getting at-bats, because he’s seen how Cox has found ways to get playing time for bench players in the past. And with Prado able to back up third base and first base, Johnson knows there could be plenty of playing time at second base when Chipper Jones or Casey Kotchman is out of the lineup and Prado moves to one of those corner-infield positions.
  Johnson said he’s also willing and able to play the outfield if Cox needs him to, though he hasn’t worked out there in some time.
  ”The guys have been so hot, you don’t want to mess with it at all,” Johnson said. Then he joked, “But maybe I’ll slip a laxative into Prado’s coffee once in a while.”
  In all seriousness, Johnson said, “I had every opportunity. I’m not making excuses. I wasn’t doing it. I wasn’t right. I had a really bad June. It was a tough month, a tough first half. That’s the way it goes.”
  After hitting .333 with three homers and seven RBI in his first seven games this season, Johnson hit just  .196 with two homers, 13 RBI and a .267 OBP and .299 slugging percentage in his next 60 games before going on the DL.
  That included a .108 average (7-for-65) with one RBI in his last 22 games for Atlanta.

  Alright, this game’s about to start. Let’s take it out with the Boss.

“THE WRESTLER” by Bruce Springsteen

Have you ever seen a one trick pony in the field so happy and free?
If you’ve ever seen a one trick pony then you’ve seen me
Have you ever seen a one-legged dog making its way down the street?
If you’ve ever seen a one-legged dog then you’ve seen me

Then you’ve seen me, I come and stand at every door
Then you’ve seen me, I always leave with less than I had before
Then you’ve seen me, bet I can make you smile when the blood, it hits the floor
Tell me, fan, can you ask for anything more?
Tell me can you ask for anything more?

Have you ever seen a scarecrow filled with nothing but dust and wheat?
If you’ve ever seen that scarecrow then you’ve seen me
Have you ever seen a one-armed man punching at nothing but the breeze?
If you’ve ever seen a one-armed man then you’ve seen me

Then you’ve seen me, I come and stand at every door
Then you’ve seen me, I always leave with less than I had before
Then you’ve seen me, bet I can make you smile when the blood, it hits the floor
Tell me, friend, can you ask for anything more?
Tell me can you ask for anything more?

These things that have comforted me, I drive away
This place that is my home I cannot pay
My only faith’s in the broken bones and bruises I display

Have you ever seen a one-legged man trying to dance his way free?
If you’ve ever seen a one-legged man then you’ve seen me

 

2,241 comments Add your comment

Tomahawkin

July 23rd, 2009
1:13 pm

From the last blog…

Infante Comes back soon, What do we do with him…?

I think he will be used as a super sub…starting in Chippers and
Nate-Dawg’s place to give them days off…

He will be used as the main pinch hitter, “Bank On It!” It’s gonna take him 2 weeks to get used to live pitching again, There fore I hope we have some blowout games so that he can get some AT-Bats in meaningless situations…

Tomahawkin

July 23rd, 2009
1:16 pm

The Fact That Conrad Got Sent Down Really P..ses Me off…! And It’s not even gametime yet…

Every playoff team needs a player like Brooks Conrad that pulls a hero role out of nowhere to win games…Much like Mike Mordecai did in 1995…

An Unsung hero sort of speak…

KJ will Be traded for a solid middle reliever and a minor leaguer within the next week, “Bank On It!”

Why have they started alternating the camera angles in games…? Anyone know…?

Brandon

July 23rd, 2009
1:16 pm

Good blog, great song…GO BRAVES.

NORRIS

July 23rd, 2009
1:17 pm

kawakami mowing them down yet??

Tomahawkin

July 23rd, 2009
1:17 pm

I give a Shoutout to our Defense since the All-Star break…

We have made Plays that weren’t made in the first half…

Kamakaze with the walk WTF…?

pryguy

July 23rd, 2009
1:18 pm

Thanks for the new blog Dave. Let’s sweep’em fellas!

Steve from OH

July 23rd, 2009
1:19 pm

T-Hawkin’:

Infante up, Diory down.

Tomahawkin

July 23rd, 2009
1:19 pm

Instant Replay Please…?

UNCBrave

July 23rd, 2009
1:19 pm

Kawakami sux

forget the curveball, Ricky

July 23rd, 2009
1:19 pm

that didnt take long

forget the curveball, Ricky

July 23rd, 2009
1:20 pm

well, you gotta hold them to one here

and get the damn ball down in the zone kk

The Third Chimpanzee

July 23rd, 2009
1:22 pm

I would like to be the first o thank Paul Lentz for his new bolg.

CVan

July 23rd, 2009
1:23 pm

Was it foul?

dap01

July 23rd, 2009
1:23 pm

Does anyone have a line to online radio for the game?

UNCBrave

July 23rd, 2009
1:24 pm

ball boy cost us a run

BravoMan

July 23rd, 2009
1:24 pm

3 out. Seems like the 1st always bothers KK. O well, time to get to San Fransisco’s favorite son, Barry Zito.

Heath (Cleveland)

July 23rd, 2009
1:24 pm

Hopefully the offense can come right back and score here in the first…

The Bird and Indian

July 23rd, 2009
1:24 pm

Dang ball boy.

keylargo

July 23rd, 2009
1:24 pm

CameronC

Good post at the end of the last blog. I wish that the one who say they are leaving over something like Conrad being demoted would do so – and stay gone.

Original Jon

July 23rd, 2009
1:25 pm

Kenshin seems to be the one weak link when it comes to the starting rotation. I mean, I never feel like its going to be a pitching dominant game when he is in there. When everyone else is in there pitching, I feel like we have a great chance to win, but not when Kenshin is in there.

LT200

July 23rd, 2009
1:25 pm

SanFranFan

July 23rd, 2009
1:25 pm

we’re well on our way!

Daslied

July 23rd, 2009
1:25 pm

“He hit .323 with five homers and a .462 on-base percentage in 62 at-bats after the All-Star break.
And coming into this season, Norton led major league pinch-hitters with 13 homers and 64 RBIs since the beginning of the 2001 season.”

I’m guessing this is why Norton is still here. Regardless of how little he’s produced so far you still need a guy like that.

Heath (Cleveland)

July 23rd, 2009
1:25 pm

Would really like to see McLouth contribute…he has been the one guy that hasn’t really hit in quite a while.

Wayne in Utah

July 23rd, 2009
1:25 pm

I guess we’ll need to send that ball boy down to Gwinnett, huh.

Doc

Better enjoy it while you can….

:-)

UNCBrave

July 23rd, 2009
1:25 pm

Nate McLouth pops everything up

Heath (Cleveland)

July 23rd, 2009
1:25 pm

…but of course, he doesn’t do crapola.

SanFranFan

July 23rd, 2009
1:26 pm

I predict kawakomi will be erradic and leave in the 3rd inning.

wheelz007

July 23rd, 2009
1:26 pm

How many runs did SF get?

BravesDA

July 23rd, 2009
1:26 pm

…at work. Anyone have the live streaming video/radio link to this game?? Uh-oh bossman comin’

atlbravesfan44

July 23rd, 2009
1:26 pm

Can anyone tell me how Sandoval “doubles on a sharp ground ball to SS Y Escobar”? Are all the outfielders in RF?

BravoMan

July 23rd, 2009
1:26 pm

SanFranFan, Only took you 3 games to get a lead, a ONE run lead

UNCBrave

July 23rd, 2009
1:27 pm

STEP OUT…SLOW Zito down

RHR

July 23rd, 2009
1:28 pm

”The guys have been so hot, you don’t want to mess with it at all,” Johnson said. Then he joked, “But maybe I’ll slip a laxative into Prado’s coffee once in a while.”
In all seriousness, Johnson said, “I had every opportunity. I’m not making excuses. I wasn’t doing it. I wasn’t right. I had a really bad June. It was a tough month, a tough first half. That’s the way it goes.”

I hope Jeff Francoeur reads this. Eh…he probably still wouldn’t get it.

atlbravesfan44

July 23rd, 2009
1:28 pm

Thanks for the link LT!

Unknown

July 23rd, 2009
1:28 pm

Ballgame! KK sucks and Prado.

Heath (Cleveland)

July 23rd, 2009
1:28 pm

That was way too easy for Zito…

Wayne in Utah

July 23rd, 2009
1:28 pm

I suspect that if Norton doesn’t get it together in the next 2-3 weeks, he could be waived and possibly send to Gwinnett if not claimed. We have not seen the last of Brooks Conrad. (though if he had ANY kind of a decent glove, he would still be here)

forget the curveball, Ricky

July 23rd, 2009
1:28 pm

wow, that was one ugly inning

coach smith

July 23rd, 2009
1:28 pm

why they hell would you send CONRAD down?

I hope they are about to tade KJ and that is why he is up…b/c Conrad has been a great addition and the Braves could use that kind of GRITTY SCRAP IRON type player

like I say…maybe KJ is being showcased

by the way ….the Braves look listless already today

pryguy

July 23rd, 2009
1:28 pm

Original Jon,

I don’t know what gives you that impression or feeling toward Kenshin. He has been just as consistent as of late with his starts as the other pitchers. He is also starting to warm up and get used to the Major Leagues. His recent performances suggest he is going to be a quality starter in this league, regardless of your feelings. I’ll take a pitcher like him on my starting rotation.

BravoMan

July 23rd, 2009
1:28 pm

UGH, such a quick inning. Patience!!!!!

cricket

July 23rd, 2009
1:29 pm

DOB,

You should put up a poll asking us who should have gone when KJ was activated – Conrad or Norton.

Original Jon

July 23rd, 2009
1:29 pm

Really??? A 9 pitch inning?

DJ

July 23rd, 2009
1:30 pm

coach smith

July 23rd, 2009
1:30 pm

that double that the Kung Fu Panda hit in the first sure looked FOUL

Unknown

July 23rd, 2009
1:30 pm

Original Jon: Wouldn’t you call his games against Halladay, the Red Sox, and the Cubs pitching dominant games for KK?

Wayne in Utah

July 23rd, 2009
1:31 pm

RHR

I think you’re right on Francoeur. If he had gotten it mid 2008, he would have gone down then and been a “good soldier” and would probably still be an Atlanta Brave (maybe).

KK is not fooling anybody much yet.

Bubdylan

July 23rd, 2009
1:31 pm

We need a hot defensive play to wake the Bravos up. C’mon Uribe hit it hard almost right at somebody.

coach smith

July 23rd, 2009
1:31 pm

KK is definetly the WEAK LINK…the Braves haven’t lost since the last time he pitched!

The Bird and Indian

July 23rd, 2009
1:31 pm

I would consider his games against the Sox, Halladay, and Cubs pretty dominant. He’s a number 5 pitcher and a very good one at that. He has started to perform well lately while getting used to MLB.

Daniel

July 23rd, 2009
1:31 pm

Thanks for the blog Dave.
I wonder how long KJ will be here. Are they just bringing him back to shop him? (besides the obvious reason of using options) I do understand the choice between Norton and Conrad, but like everyone else I was very impressed with Brooks. I hope to see him back up here soon.

Kate

July 23rd, 2009
1:31 pm

atlbravesfan44-

the ball was hit down the third base line and redirected off the ball boy

Supes

July 23rd, 2009
1:31 pm

Yeah, I’d rather have a healthy Tim Hudson STARTING than coming out of the pen when Huddy returns.

I know KK isn’t a bullpen guy, but guy’s control is STILL an issue. He was all over the zone in the 1st inning against a free swinging team like the Giants. Not good.

Tim Hudson > Kenshin Kawakami

Rotation after Huddy gets back:

1. Lowe
2. Jair
3. Javy
4. Huddy
5. Hanson

KK to the bullpen. You worry about next year in the off-season (as far as contract length, etc, too many starters all that stuff).

Of course, if the Braves trade Javy Vazquez, none of that matters. Huddy would just take over Javy’s spot.

CameronC

July 23rd, 2009
1:31 pm

Thanks, it just frustrates me to come on here and see everyone complaining, and talking nothing but trash about players just going through a slump, then turn around and love them when they do great. I come on here because I love reading DOBs stories and get his updates. But true fans dont act the way most people here do. And as a TRUE fan it bothers me to see “So-Called” fans complain and B*t*h the way they do. And like I said before, only the people im talking about will bash me for this.

kdbanks

July 23rd, 2009
1:31 pm

No way you can move KK to the bullpen when Huddy comes back. Walks too many guys. Not sure who they could bump from the rotation. Perhaps Huddy goes to the pen?

Roman Gal

July 23rd, 2009
1:32 pm

the Braves haven’t lost since the last time he pitched!

Yeah…they were facing Johan Santana and didn’t score any runs.

Wayne in Utah

July 23rd, 2009
1:33 pm

Bub

Good to see you back in the saddle!

Roman Gal

July 23rd, 2009
1:34 pm

Dang…Gameday is being sooo sllooowwww

Original Jon

July 23rd, 2009
1:34 pm

Unknown, because those were only a few games.

BravoMan

July 23rd, 2009
1:34 pm

“Yeah…they were facing Johan Santana and didn’t score any runs.”

Horrible!!!!

Pierson Brave

July 23rd, 2009
1:35 pm

Radio link: http://player.cumulusstreaming.com/Audioplay.html?WIFN-FM : this link works for me here in Pierson.

BravoMan

July 23rd, 2009
1:35 pm

Lotta balls close or in the strike zone according to gameday for KK

coach smith

July 23rd, 2009
1:35 pm

Roman Girl
Yeah…they were facing Johan Santana and didn’t score any runs.

true…but JJ didn’t seem to have a problem with LINCECUM…why? he threw strikes and didn’t get the Braves behind early

indybravesfan

July 23rd, 2009
1:36 pm

I have zero confidence in KK….he is not good and we should have spent our money on a bat not this guy…send him to the pen…

Heath (Cleveland)

July 23rd, 2009
1:36 pm

Thanks DJ!! I was using channelsurfing and p2p4u before..

Daslied

July 23rd, 2009
1:36 pm

Original Jon – Kawakami has allowed 3 runs or less in 13 of his last 14 starts, or something like that. He is good.

DJ

July 23rd, 2009
1:37 pm

BravoMan

July 23rd, 2009
1:37 pm

It’s just a run. Jeez does everyone freak out like this every game lol

David O'Brien

July 23rd, 2009
1:37 pm

Just added a new POLL to the original blog. Check it out, let us know what you think about whether the Braves need to make a deal before deadline.

Steve from OH

July 23rd, 2009
1:37 pm

Yeah…they were facing Johan Santana and didn’t score any runs.

They must be terrible!

Bobby's Cox

July 23rd, 2009
1:37 pm

This move is temporary. Wren’s on the phones trying to get something for KJ. So far he’s been pretty good at getting something for players out of options that he’d have to pass through waivers. They’re just trying to hold onto as many players as possible. I suspected Conrad would be the odd man out, but I’d be surprised if KJ is not traded before the deadline….

Roman Gal

July 23rd, 2009
1:38 pm

true…but JJ didn’t seem to have a problem with LINCECUM…why?

No, the Braves offense didn’t have a problem with Lincecum…and JJ is one of our aces. KK is our 5th starter. It’s completely different.

Jeff321

July 23rd, 2009
1:38 pm

There goes that STUD again!

The Bird and Indian

July 23rd, 2009
1:39 pm

Yunel Escobar??!!! Are you kidding me?

Heath (Cleveland)

July 23rd, 2009
1:39 pm

You have GOT to be kidding me! This dude is raking!

FaninFaytown

July 23rd, 2009
1:39 pm

So is he going to be player of the week 2 weeks in a row?

Lamar Banks

July 23rd, 2009
1:39 pm

Congrats Yunel

David O'Brien

July 23rd, 2009
1:39 pm

There’s no stopping this dude. Yunel, have a month, my friend.

Brandon

July 23rd, 2009
1:39 pm

CameronC

July 23rd, 2009
1:39 pm

HOLLY SHYT HES HOT!!

Wayne in Utah

July 23rd, 2009
1:39 pm

Kawakami has kept us in the game in all but ONE outing since April, and that was the game after he was hit in the neck.

WTG Escobar!

Tomahawkin

July 23rd, 2009
1:39 pm

There We Go Esco!!!

Maybe he can step up and be our MVP of the second half!

Steve from OH

July 23rd, 2009
1:39 pm

let us know what you think about whether the Braves need to make a deal before deadline.

Not really…if they do, I’d hope we don’t move anything of value…

Yunel!

MiamiBrave

July 23rd, 2009
1:39 pm

YESSSIRRRRRR

DJ

July 23rd, 2009
1:39 pm

Couch Tater

July 23rd, 2009
1:39 pm

Escobar has a bad attitude toward Zito.

Bubdylan

July 23rd, 2009
1:39 pm

Wayne in Utah, howdy. I’m supposed to be unpacking boxes, but I can’t miss every game in this hot streak. *looks at score* Uh oh, it isn’t ME, is it? I mean, it’d be cool to find out the world really does revolve around me, but not like that.

Homerun Escobar. This is nuts, his lately play.

AlabamaBrave

July 23rd, 2009
1:39 pm

Trade Yunel immediately! He has only hit 4 homers this homestand!

BravoMan

July 23rd, 2009
1:39 pm

Yunel is really something folks…

The Bird and Indian

July 23rd, 2009
1:40 pm

I’m not sure why people expect so much from out 5th starter?? Last year we just wished we had a 3rd starter.

Daslied

July 23rd, 2009
1:40 pm

Damn! Yunel has to be in the MVP discussion at this point…

ChurchMan

July 23rd, 2009
1:40 pm

Ballgame! KK sucks and Prado.

well i’m sure they’ll lose and make you happy, yunel needs to be traded for tying this game up!!!!

Original Jon

July 23rd, 2009
1:40 pm

OMG, is there any hotter player in the league right now???? I dont think its possible.

N Nine

July 23rd, 2009
1:40 pm

Tim Hudson > Kenshin Kawakami

One year removed from Tommy John Surgery, no promises he will be “greater” than KK immediately. If we forgot, Peter Moylen didn’t come out flashing the bulbs that first month. KK’s in better pitching shape at the moment.

cabravesfan

July 23rd, 2009
1:41 pm

Wow. Yunel…I’m not even sure what to say anymore. Kid’s good.

Rob from SC

July 23rd, 2009
1:41 pm

he might hit 20

The Bird and Indian

July 23rd, 2009
1:41 pm

Wayne in Utah: Exactly.

BravoMan

July 23rd, 2009
1:41 pm

MVP=Yunel…if we reach the playoffs…

James is Red

July 23rd, 2009
1:41 pm

Couch Tater – that was hilarious.

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