Archive for March, 2010

Glaus on doubles tear; Braves say HRs will come

Lake Buena Vista, Fla. – With the Florida leg of spring training winding down, Troy Glaus had put together a doubles flurry to boost some gaudy spring stats for the Braves’ new first baseman.

After going 3-for-3 with two doubles and three RBIs in Wednesday’s 10-5 win against Houston, Glaus has four doubles and five hits in his last five plate appearances.

He’s hitting .413 with a .518 on-base percentage and .522 slugging percentage in 46 at-bats this spring. But Glaus had only one extra-base hit – a double – in 14 hits before Monday.

“I didn’t have any doubt that he had power, because he shows plenty of power in BP,” general manager Frank Wren said. “I’ve loved his stroke this spring, the ability to drive the ball to different gaps.

“And talking to other general managers that have had him, they say when he’s going well he’s a doubles machine. And he’s a big, strong guy. I’ve been very happy with what we’ve seen so far.”

The former American League home-run leader still …

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Braves lead majors in walks, OBP

.386 – the Braves’ on-base percentage this spring, which leads the major leagues. They have drawn a majors-leading 132 walks, including 11 by Martin Prado, 10 apiece by Chipper Jones, Troy Glaus and Jason Heyward, and eight by Brian McCann.

The Braves have four of the National League’s top 10 on-base percentages in Glaus (.518), Eric Hinske (.500), Prado (.500) and Heyward (.469). Meanwhile,  McCann (.574) would lead the league if he had enough plate appearances to qualify.

Guess who manager Bobby Cox suggested Wednesday was behind the spring surge in plate discipline? Hint: He’s 20 years old.

“We’ve had good at-bats, we really have,” Cox said. “Haven’t chased a lot of [bad pitches]. I think it all started with Jason Heyward. People started to talk about it. He has good at-bats, doesn’t swing at pitches that bounce and all that.”

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Lowe’s spring marred by three innings

Lake Buena Vista, Fla. – Ten of 11 earned runs against Derek Lowe this spring came in three innings, and the veteran pitcher didn’t know quite what to make of that Wednesday.

“That’s either good or bad,” Lowe said of  that statistic. “You couldn’t stop the bleeding, or the other innings were good.”

He was charged with six hits and three runs in four innings of a 10-5 win against the Houston Astros on Wednesday, Lowe’s final tuneup before an opening-day start against the Chicago Cubs on Monday.

The recurring spring pattern: all the runs off Lowe were in one inning, the first inning, on a walk and two hits, including Chris Johnson’s two-out homer on a sinker that didn’t sink.

“It was a little lethargic,” the veteran right-hander said. “Wasn’t the greatest of starts. But I think obviously the last three innings [were better]

“… Wasn’t as sharp as you’d want to be. But it’s hard not to start looking forward when you’re only five days away, knowing that you’ve still got to …

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Braves vs. Tigers, then head north

Next for Braves

Who: vs. Tigers

When: 1:05 p.m.

Where: Lakeland, Fla.

Radio: 1230, 1340.

Comment: In the Braves’ last game before breaking camp, Jair Jurrjens will face Tigers right-hander Eddie Bonine. It’ll serve as a tuneup for Jurrjens before his regular-season start Wednesday against the Cubs.

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Diaz on part-time role: Not a problem

Lake Buena Vista, Fla. – Braves outfielder Matt Diaz will have a part-time role this season, and obviously rookie right fielder Jason Heyward is a big reason why.

But Diaz and other Braves saw this coming before Heyward peppered cars with batting-practice homers in the first week of camp, or put up a plus-.500 on-base percentage and a tape-measure home run against Detroit in the first week of Grapefruit League games.

“I think last year leaving camp, and especially when Frenchy [Jeff Francoeur] was traded,” Diaz said, “the assumption was kind of made then that [Heyward] was our right fielder, coming soon.

“Some of us expected to see him a little bit last season, but there’s no doubt — especially with the way he handled himself early in camp — there was no doubt that he would make the team this spring.”

Diaz said that not with a tone of resignation, but excitement. Like the rest of the Braves, he’s pleased the Braves put aside factors other than performance — i.e. Heyward’s …

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Ingrown toenails, pigs in clubhouse … it’s time

Dark Star, Fla. – When pigs are running through the clubhouse and Chipper’s out with an ingrown toenail, it might be a good time to break camp and take ‘er north.

Fortunately for the Braves, they’ll do that Thursday. There is nothing more to be gained from work here.

No. 22 is back in the lineup today

No. 22 is back in the lineup today

And health — not to mention animals — could be at risk if spring training lasts any longer.

Before we relate the pig episode, the update on Jason Heyward: He’s back in lineup after missing three games with shin splints. And on Chipper Jones: The 3B was scratched from the lineup late this morning with an ingrown toenail.

But I can tell you it was red. He pulled his foot out of a shower sandal to display the wound, as it were.

I asked if he dug too deep, meaning did he do it like we’ve all probably done at least once, when you pull a jagged piece of nail from the corner thinking it’s gonna come off neatly and it ends up tearing down into the cuticle and starts to bleed a little …

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Glaus a prolific singles hitter this spring

.372 – Troy Glaus’ batting average this spring is outstanding, although no one expected the former American League home-run leader to have a higher on-base percentage than slugging percentage.

Glaus went 2-for-3 with two doubles in Tuesday’s 9-6 win against the Yankees, only the second and third extra-base hits of the spring for the Braves’ 6-foot-6 first baseman. Before Tuesday, he had 13 singles in 14 hits.

He’s batting .372 with a .491 OBP and .442 slugging percentage in 43 at-bats, with 10 walks and 12 strikeouts. His conversion from long-time third baseman to first base has gone relatively smoothly, with only one error so far this spring.

He still doesn’t have a home run, although it looked like he had one Tuesday. Glaus hit a ball that appeared to carry over the center-field fence and was initially ruled a homer.

But after the Yankees argued that the ball hit the top of the fence and bounced back, the umpires discussed the situation and reversed the call, giving Glaus …

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Escobar back in lineup, Heyward and Ross healing

Lake Buena Vista, Fla. – Yunel Escobar returned to the Braves’ lineup Tuesday, and  Jason Heyward could be back Wednesday if manager Bobby Cox is convinced the top rookie is healed.

Heyward has missed three games with what’s characterized as a minor case of shin splits in his left leg, and the Braves are being cautious to make sure the phenom slugger is healthy for opening day.

“I’ll talk to him tomorrow,” Cox said. “I’d like get that clear, too. Because once the season starts, you’re in there.”

Heyward declined to discuss the shin injury, but showed no sign of favoring it when he took batting practice Tuesday before the game against the New York Yankees at sold-out Champion Stadium.

He hit his usual array of line drives and mammoth shots to the parking lot beyond right field during batting practice.

Escobar, sidelined for three games by a sore back, went 0-for-3 in the 9-6 win against the Yankees. He’s 0-for-7 in his past two games, but still has a .302 average with …

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Mets claim Acosta off waivers from Braves

Lake Buena Vista, Fla. – Manny can be maddening, but he still has a quality arm.

Manny Acosta, that is.

The Braves tried to drop the pitcher from their 40-man roster Tuesday and the New York Mets snagged him, claiming the right-handed reliever off waivers.

The Braves got reliever Juan Abreu through waivers and outrighted him to Class A Myrtle Beach.  The moves left them with 37 players on the 40-man roster (the Braves outrighted pitcher Todd Redmond to Class AAA Gwinnett last week).

Two spots will be needed for Jason Heyward, the phenom right fielder, and reliever Scott Proctor. Another could be needed for utility man Joe Thurston, if he wins the closely contested battle with Brooks Conrad for the final bench job.

Proctor is expected to pitch two or three weeks at Gwinnett after returning to game action only two weeks ago, following 17 months and two elbow surgeries. They wouldn’t have to add him to the 40-man roster until he’s ready to join the major league …

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Kimbrel to Gwinnett narrows field for final spots

Lake Buena Vista, Fla. – Craig Kimbrel will begin the season as a closer at Class AAA Gwinnett, but Braves manager Bobby Cox said the hard-throwing prospect could soon be with the big club.

“I think so,” Cox said. “If he gets it together. He’s a strikeout guy. He can come on and strike you out.”

Projected as a future closer, Kimbrel, 21, has allowed only three hits in seven scoreless appearances this spring, with 10 strikeouts in seven innings.

While he has issued six walks, Cox said the right-hander hasn’t been plagued with erratic control like he was at times during two minor league seasons.

“I don’t think [his command] has been bad at all,” Cox said. “In the bullpens he was always good. That’s where you get a good look at how guys repeat pitches, things like that….

“I haven’t looked at his stats, but for me, with just my eyes – I haven’t looked at stats in spring training – I like him.”

Cox talked to Kimbrel on Tuesday and told him how he’d be used at Gwinnett, …

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