Lake Buena Vista, Fla. – Perhaps if Troy Glaus were a young player trying to win a job, he’d be a bit more excited about an 8-for-8 hitting streak.
But as a veteran power hitter getting accustomed to a new position – first base — while preparing for a season that doesn’t start for 3-1/2 weeks, he keeps things in perspective.
“It’s nice to see hits, it’s positive reinforcement,” said the 6-foot-6 converted third baseman, who has eight consecutive singles to raise his spring average to .750, highest in the majors.
“But I’ve been doing this long enough that it doesn’t matter right now. I’ve had good springs, I’ve had bad springs, I’ve had in-between springs. It doesn’t matter….
“I’d much rather get no hits here and three hits on April 4, than get 30 hits down here and none on April 4.”
The former American League home-run champion is 9-for-12 with one double and three walks this spring. He doesn’t have a homer, but also has no strikeouts.
Glaus and the Braves are confident that he’ll supply plenty of power from the cleanup spot, long as he stays in the lineup. Health has been the only question mark for the 33-year-old former All-Star.
He’s hit at least 20 homers in all eight seasons when had at last 385 at-bats, including 38 homers in 540 at-bats with Toronto in 2006.
Glaus had consecutive seasons with 47 and 41 homers in 2000-2001 with Anaheim. But he’s had plenty of health issues since, and missed most of last season with St. Louis while recovering from shoulder surgery.
“He’s got a great eye at the plate,” manager Bobby Cox said of the right-handed slugger, before describing how much Glaus and rookie Jason Heyward have added to the Braves’ offense and how important they are.
Glaus got the day off Wednesday and will be back in the lineup Thursday night against the Yankees.
“Can’t say enough good stuff about him,” Cox said. “I mean, every at-bat’s been a great one. He hasn’t been fooled on a pitch yet. He hasn’t elevated the ball yet, but he’s just squaring the ball so solidly.
“And he’s eased into [playing] first base.”
Glaus said he’s got a lot of work to do defensively, and wished he’d get more balls his way in games, and more situations to deal with than he has so far.
Despite his size, Glaus was a former Gold Glove runner-up at third base. He’s not looked out of position at first base, which he played in only six regular-season games during his career.
“It’s starting to feel OK,” he said. “I want to see as many situations as I possibly can down here. [Tuesday] there wasn’t a whole lot of action, just a couple of infield plays. I want to see situations I haven’t seen before, so I know how to react when it does count.
“It’s just a matter of repetition. I’ll get to see those situations. Right now I want weird stuff to happen, so I’ll know how to react to it when it happens again.”
As for the lack of extra-base hits, he’s not concerned.
“It’s just random,” he said. “You get in a groove of hitting homers, and you just get used to swinging that way. You get in a groove for hitting liners and for a while you get used to swinging that way. Not that it’s a different swing – I mean, you’re talking fractions of an inch of difference. There’s nothing to read into it.”
Saito struggles, Sucre delivers
Setup man Takashi Saito gave up three runs and three hits in the fifth inning and blew a 6-3 lead against the Mets in his second spring appearance, but the Braves won 7-6 on minor league catcher Jesus Sucre’s two-out single in the 10th.
“I’m really excited,” Sucre said after the first walkoff hit of his professional career. “I was down in the bullpen and they called and told me we need you to hit. I wasn’t ready for that.”
The Braves won’t be counting on Sucre this season, but they sure will be expecting more out of Saito, the 40-year-old right-hander they signed to serve as a setup man and backup closer to Billy Wagner.
“He had trouble leaving too many pitches up,” Cox said….
Cox lauded the performances of utility candidate Brooks Conrad and pitching prospect Craig Kimbrel, a hard-throwing right-hander the Braves hope will become their ninth-inning man in another year or two.
“All he has to do is harness a little better control, and he can be a legitimate closer,” Cox said of Kimbrel, who got the win Wednesday after recording two strikeouts and a walk in a hitless ninth….
Chipper Jones and Melky Cabrera had two-run doubles and Kris Medlen pitched three hitless relief innings (two walks, no runs) after starter Derek Lowe gave up three runs in the first inning and left with a toe blister.