Archive for February, 2010

Braves could land shortstop prospect

The Braves have emerged as a favorite to land 18-year-old Dominican shortstop Edward Salcedo, a prized prospect who could command a deal worth at least $2 million. The player’s agent, Edgar Mercedes, told the Associated Press that the Braves were the “first option,” but that he’s still open to other offers.

Two years ago Salcedo, at that time a Scott Boras client, reportedly signed with the Indians for $2.3 million. But he ran into visa trouble when the US consulate had doubts about his identity. An only recently completed investigation by MLB confirmed his age. Mercedes said the Braves requested the investigation.

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Busy caps, busy ‘park name

Braves' new spring training cap for 2010. (mlb.com)

Braves' new spring training cap for 2010. (mlb.com)

Braves players seemed unimpressed (or worse) with the team’s new spring-training caps, which are navy blue with white vertical-stripe piping on each side of the crown and more white piping on the back. The familiar script “A” on front is white with red trim, and the brim of the cap also has another raised accent stripe in navy blue.

It’s a bit of a busy look, and the Braves be wearing it throughout spring training and during regular-season batting practice, if MLB forces them to (the spring training/BP caps are designed by MLB for all teams)…

Another  difference this spring here at Dark Star is the name of the Braves’ home ballpark, which has been changed from Champion Stadium at Disney’s Wide World of Sports to Champion Stadium at ESPN Wide World of Sports.

Yeah, Dark Star works better for me, too.

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McLouth: I can see clearly now….

Lake Buena Vista, Fla. – It got to a point last season where Braves center fielder Nate McLouth struggled to see signals that catcher Brian McCann was giving the pitcher.

But he never mentioned it to anyone, and never indicated that his eyesight might have contributed to a 20-point decline in his batting average from 2008 and 61-point decline in slugging percentage.

“It’s something I didn’t want to make a big deal out of,” McLouth said Friday after a round of batting practice in the covered cage at Dark Star. “Sometimes that happens to people, you know? … I’ve always had good eyesight in my family, so I never went to the eye doctor growing up. Ever. My parents didn’t and my brothers didn’t.

“It got to the point where I kind of thought something was wrong, but didn’t want to say anything. And I knew contacts were hard to get used to, so I didn’t want to start wearing them [late during] the season.”

But when he noticed that street signs appeared fuzzy as he was making an …

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Cowboy Billy makes early impression

Lake Buena Vista, Fla. — Billy Wagner cut a rugged figure as he strode across the field to the dugout Friday morning. The Braves’ new closer wore a brown cowboy hat, jeans, work boots and Western-style flannel shirt.

One has to be good — and confident — to pull off that look in this environment.

Wagner is, and did.

Pitchers and catchers reported Friday, but Wagner and some others had been in camp several days. The 37-year-old “Wags” looked like he’d been there several years, judging from the ease with which he interacted with teammates and held court with reporters.

“Wags is going to be the veteran presence that — not that we’ve been missing, necessarily, but I think he’s just going to have that presence and ability to sort of manipulate us into the way he wants the bullpen to be,” reliever Peter Moylan said. “He’s the kind of character that I’m sure this team wants our bullpen to act like.”

Early arrivers noticed the amiable Wagner was all business in workouts. They’re …

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Braves breathe easier after Jurrjens MRI

Just some inflammation for Jurrjens = great news for Braves

Just some inflammation for Jurrjens = great news for Braves

It was a brief nightmare for Braves Nation, but it’s over. Jair Jurrjens has a slightly inflamed shoulder, not a torn one. Big difference. Biiig.

Yes, that sound you might have heard on the southern edge of downtown Atlanta this morning was a collective sigh of relief emanating from Turner Field, after word spread that the MRI of Jurrjens’ shoulder showed only mild inflammation. He should be able to resume throwing by next week.

His rotator cuff and labrum are intact, and so is the Braves’ season. The team’s shot at a postseason berth might have been severely diminished without Jurrjens, who went 14-10 with a 2.60 ERA last year in his second full season in the majors, the third-best ERA in the National League.

“I was a little worried until I got the MRI results,” Jurrjens told me this morning while he waited at the Atlanta airport to board his flight back to Florida. “When the trainer said, ‘You need to fly to …

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Jurrjens has MRI, will get results Wednesday

Braves standout Jair Jurrjens had an MRI exam on his pitching shoulder Tuesday and should know Wednesday whether there’s significant injury or just soreness often associated with the resumption of throwing after an offseason.

Jurrjens flew to Atlanta on Tuesday morning from the Braves’ spring-training headquarters near Orlando, after complaining of lingering soreness since arriving a few days earlier. Braves pitchers and catchers aren’t due to report until Friday, but he and a few others got to camp early.

Two persons familiar with the situation told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Monday that Jurrjens had some discomfort in his shoulder that began when he felt a twinge while playing in a low-key ballgame last week in his native Curacao.

The soreness lingered over the weekend in Florida, and the decision was made to fly him to Atlanta for what general manager Frank Wren said was strictly a precautionary measure.

The Braves don’t think Jurrjens has a serious injury and a …

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Waiting for Johnny, focused on Jason

Sitting in my home office on a chilly Friday, cell phone next to my computer and Weather Channel on TV, waiting to see which will arrive first – snow here in Atlanta or a Johnny Damon signing with Detroit (or Atlanta, or the ChiSox….)

Clean-cut or hirsute, Damon seems headed to Detroit

Clean-cut or hirsute, Damon seems headed to Detroit

Noticed today that the Royals are reportedly going to try Kyle Farnsworth in the starting rotation. My prediction: There will be blood. (As in, bench-clearing brawls. At the very least, crucial homers and on-mound meltdowns.)

But where were we? Oh, yes. Damon. Our topic du jour. More like, du month.

If Thursday reports of the Tigers offer (two years, $14 million) are even remotely accurate, I can’t imagine Damon turning that down, not if that’s a regular contract – in other words, if that’s guaranteed money.

As unequaled as Scott Boras (that’s his agent, whom you may have heard of) is at drumming up offers that defy all conventional wisdom at any particular time, I don’t see another team …

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Heyward’s growing as fast as expectations

Is this the future face of the Braves franchise? Photo by Tom Priddy/Four Seam images

Is this the future face of the Braves franchise? Photo by Tom Priddy/Four Seam images

Henry County’s heavy hitter is only 20 years old and has limited experience above the low minor leagues, but Braves officials have said that Jason Heyward will enter spring training with every opportunity to win the right-field job. And said it repeatedly, to any and everyone.

And if that’s the case, most who’ve seen Heyward hitting – or seen him simply existing – in recent weeks would probably put money on him being in right field for the Braves’ opening series with the Cubs April 5-8 at Turner Field.

Because the masher from McDonough is impressive. Straight up.

“He’s virtually skipping Triple-A if he makes the team,” manager Bobby Cox said of Heyward, who played in three late-season games at Triple-A Gwinnett and has only 50 games and 173 at-bats above Class A.

“That doesn’t happen often. But in his case we just feel that he should, if he’s going to come to spring training, be given a …

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