Lake Buena Vista, Fla. – Jair Jurrjens’ sore pitching shoulder has already kept him off the mound for the first week of workouts, and the Braves think it will be at least a few more days before they let him on the hill.
A vital member of the Braves’ starting rotation, Jurrjens was diagnosed with shoulder inflammation a few days before camp opened. An MRI showed no damage to the rotator cuff or labrum.
Jurrjens, 23, progressed from light throwing to long-tossing at 90 feet Wednesday and again Friday, with what was described as minimal discomfort. If he can long-toss without pain from 120 feet this weekend, he could get on the mound early next week.
“He was begging Roger to throw today,” said manager Bobby Cox, who agreed that was probably a good sign that Jurrjens’ shoulder felt better.
The Braves begin Grapefruit League play Tuesday against the Mets at Port St. Lucie, Fla. If Jurrjens misses only a couple of starts, he might still have enough time to be ready when the regular season opens April 5 against the Chicago Cubs.
Cox said he would announce next week’s pitching plans either Saturday or Sunday, after finalizing details with pitching coach Roger McDowell.
Until Jurrjens was sidelined, he or Tim Hudson seemed likely candidates for the season-opening start against the Cubs at Turner Field. The setback presumably takes Jurrjens out of consideration, and the Braves could buy him a few extra days by moving him back in the rotation or skipping his first regular-season turn.
The three-game series against the Cubs continues April 7-8 following an April 6 off day that’s in the schedule in case of an opening-day rainout. After the opening series at home, the Braves will travel to San Francisco for a three game series April 9-11.
Jurrjens had third-lowest ERA (2.60) among National League starters in 2009, when he finished 14-10 and pitched a career-high 215 innings in his second full season in the majors.
Sick Wagner sent home: Billy Wagner was sick when he reported to work Friday morning, and the Braves told the veteran closer was sent home to his Orlando-area accomodations rather than risk spreading what was believed to be an upper respiratory infection.
The Braves have had viruses run through the clubhouse in recent spring trainings, knocking out multiple players at a time for multiple days. So they’re asking that players make it known if they’re sick, so they can be excused and stay away from the ballpark for a day or two, if necessary.