Wagner, Saito go back-to-back without difficulty

Lake Buena Vista, Fla. -- Eric O’Flaherty and Peter Moylan struck out five of the eight batters they faced during the sixth and seventh innings of a 4-0 win against Washington, but the most important Braves relief work Saturday  was by the two graybeards who followed.

The Braves are counting heavily on 38-year-old closer Billy Wagner and 40-year-old setup man Takashi Saito, and each of them got through without incident Saturday working the back end of their first back-to-back games of spring training.

Wagner gave up a leadoff single and retired the next three batters in the ninth inning, after Saito allowed one hit and one walk in the eighth.

“It’s a work in progress,” said Wagner, who threw 10 strikes in 13 pitches Saturday, after giving up two hits and one run and recording three strikeouts Friday against Detroit.

The left-hander missed most of the 2009 season recovering from ligament-transplant elbow surgery, but Wagner scoffed when asked if he had any concerns before Saturday about being able to pitch in back-to-back games.

“That would be an insult to Bobby [Cox] and them to say, ‘We just paid a closer $6.75 million and we’re not sure if he can go back-to-back,” said Wagner, who signed a one-year, $7 million contract that includes a $6.5 million club option for 2011 with a $250,000 buyout.

“I feel good; I feel healthy,” said Wagner, who has a 4.50 ERA in eight appearances this spring, with 10 hits, two walks and 10 strikeouts in eight innings. “I’m excited about the progress right now. Each outing is closer to where I want to be.”

Saito has five consecutive scoreless appearances after a rough beginning when he gave up five runs and six hits in his first two outings of spring training. The Japanese right-hander has allowed just three hits and two walks in his past five scoreless innings.

“I was able to get through without any problems, and able to pitch three times in four days,” Saito said through his interpreter. “So I was happy about that.”

He said he needs to lower the location of his breaking pitches a bit before opening day.

McCann continues torrid spring

Brian McCann went 2-for-3 with a double to raise his spring average to .514, and the catcher would lead the National League in average, on-base percentage (.585) and slugging percentage (1.000) if he enough plate appearances to qualify. He’s 18-for-35 with five doubles, four home runs, 13 RBI, six walks and three strikeouts.

51 comments Add your comment

theriddler

March 27th, 2010
8:06 pm

ric roc

March 27th, 2010
8:07 pm

MaineBrave

March 27th, 2010
8:11 pm

BravesFan79

March 27th, 2010
8:33 pm

Cannon

March 27th, 2010
8:37 pm

Can’t wait til the 5th. It’s looking like we’re in for a fun season.

Ken Stallings

March 27th, 2010
8:59 pm

David, you must kind of bummed out that your scheduled day off was when the big announcement was made about Heyward. Oh well, it matters not in the big scheme. Your daily columns are a very nice source of information on the team.

ryan c

March 27th, 2010
9:06 pm

according to mlbtraderumors, the braves are shopping david ross….
why?

BravesFanChris25

March 27th, 2010
9:14 pm

On mlbtr it says that Braves said that David Ross could be available in a veteran back up catcher for young back up catcher type of trade. Anything to that or no?

rainman34

March 27th, 2010
9:59 pm

it better be for something more. We dont need young catching with clint more than enough of a d first type. D Ross should be high on some of these clubs list he is much better than some of the starters in the bigs now. Kendel, zaun, whoever catchs for the pads haha.

VP

March 27th, 2010
10:08 pm

Buster Olney wrote a blog about the Braves drafting Jason Heyward. Can anybody with Insider access post it here? Would love to read it.

ASHEVILLE DAWG

March 27th, 2010
10:11 pm

if Wagner and Saito are as advertised the Braves could be formidable.

Doc Holiday

March 27th, 2010
10:55 pm

IMO, this would be a done deal from day 1 if Javy was still around, we look extremely good. Cant recall a braves team that looked this good this decade, not sure if in the 90s. We can easily do this even without Vazquez around. Lets just hope Lowe and KK can win some 24 games between them and we will be playing deep into october.

ryan c

March 27th, 2010
11:08 pm

doc, have ya looked at those early teams from this decade? in 2002 and 2003 the braves won over 100 games.

Joey M

March 28th, 2010
12:13 am

Hope Wagner and Saito can stay healthy and productive. Beyond that, HEYWARD IS STARTING IN RF!!!!! Now he can hit is .400 80 Hr 250 R.B.I.’s in a full season. (just kidding) I am one of the few looking for Melky Cabrera to play and start in CF and let McLouth platoon with Diaz to get his confidence back. It’s all just a waiting game till Schafer comes back anyway.

anotherbrave

March 28th, 2010
12:39 am

Looks like McCann’s 2nd eye surgery was the ticket!! I’m excited about the offensive potential of this club if we can get Nate going.

Jerry Holcombe

March 28th, 2010
2:36 am

VP
I have Insider access, but it seems to me that posting that story here would be illegal.

Conyers Braves Fan

March 28th, 2010
4:50 am

DOB: I am concerned that these “graybeards” (a great description) will not be as good as
Soriano and Gonzalez were last year or would have been this year. Given the wear and tear
on a 38 year old closer (not including the attempted comeback from major arm surgery) makes me feel uneasy. Do you think these new back end reliefers will be as good and
can last through the season?

Timbo

March 28th, 2010
6:00 am

Wagner and Saito are the keys to this season. If these guys stay healthy, produce, and hold leads, watchout phillies.

Jim Irvin

March 28th, 2010
9:16 am

I am a lifelong Phillies fan. And i just read a quote from Mouth Mcann, you know,that catcher slash comedian. He says in his remarks how the Phillies haven’t done 1/4 of what the Braves did ,1991 – 2005. Tell the Mouth, I only recall 1, thats right 1 world series championships during that stretch. They should be embarrased to have 14 strait shots, and only come up large ONCE!! My own Philadelphia Eagles have been in 5 of the last 9 NFC Championship games, to only win one. Now , I don’t brag on such dubious accompishments. Maybe Mcann could take a lesson from me. I am his elder.

Jim Irvin

March 28th, 2010
9:17 am

Enter your comments here

Jim

March 28th, 2010
9:23 am

Phils vs.Yanks again in 2010 ! Phils in 7, Halliday wins 4 !!

Jim

March 28th, 2010
9:31 am

Just so Braves fans don’t get too fired up. Word inside Phils camp is when Seatle falls out of playoff contention, Lee returns tp PHILS for the stretch run. Look for it to happen before 8-1-2010. It was part of the deal.

dogsbrekky 35 degrees... boo hoo

March 28th, 2010
9:45 am

Jim – yeah baby… but did you watch how exciting those WS we lost were… 91, 92, 96… heart attack stuff… btw Hamels is burned already, he is the Steve Avery of the new millenia, but not as great….

Collin

March 28th, 2010
10:12 am

Lol.. I love it when fans try to somehow knock 14 straight division titles. There is nothing bad you can say about that, no matter how you want to spin it.

beachcomber

March 28th, 2010
10:18 am

What else would you expect from a Phillies fan? It’s quite comical to sit around a bunch of them here in Clearwater each spring. Our Braves are here for their only visit tomorrow. Many of my family have to call in sick tomorrow.

Jim

March 28th, 2010
10:21 am

I don’t think Avery went to 2 all star games, then became World Series MVP.! Cole will fine this year. Two new pitches will do that. Also, Avery never had one of the 5 best change-ups to go with 94mph heater.

Senator Blutarski

March 28th, 2010
10:22 am

14 straight division titles including a World Series championship! A whole lot of teams don’t even come close to going to a World Series period, in some 14-year stretches…

Jim

March 28th, 2010
10:25 am

Senator you should check you facts. Even my Phils, the losingest team in pro sports history has been to 5 World Series in last 30 years. Idont know how they do math in politics, but thats about every 6 yrs.

Jim

March 28th, 2010
10:29 am

Beachcomber, nobody asked you and yours to hang in Clearwater

beachcomber

March 28th, 2010
10:31 am

Jim – Lived here 50 years but we’ll move if you’d like us to!

Jim

March 28th, 2010
10:32 am

Braves fans have had some great moments, and came out to support the team, totally comendable. Well by God, we do too!! Over 3 mil., 4 yrs. running, and over 70 SELLOUTS THIS YEAR ALREADY!! When you come, come to play.

Jeff's Burrough

March 28th, 2010
10:36 am

Jim, how long had it been before the Phils made the World Series in 2008 ? 1993? And before that it was 1985. So that is only 2 World Series in 23 years.

Jim

March 28th, 2010
10:38 am

Beachcomber, my apologies. But one real question…. How can you live in . Clearwater for 50 years, which makes you very fortunate in my opinoin,(Great place!), and NOT BE A PHILLIES FAN. You are surely in the minority.

Jim

March 28th, 2010
10:43 am

world series facts….1980,1983,1993,2008,2009. 30 thirty.years, five trips, 2 wins. Agian gtis from the losing team in pro history. keep up

beachcomber

March 28th, 2010
10:50 am

Excellent question that deserves a civil answer. While the Phils train here and have some great people working for them here year round, the south only had one full time team for the past forty plus years – the Braves. I managed radio stations which were Braves affiliates. Got to know their people and players and became a fan.

The Phils have had a year round presence in Clearwater for only the past fifteen years or so. Prior to that, there was no high A team in Clearwater. Works both ways, many of my friends here in Clearwater get ciriticized for being Phils fans when the Rays play 20 miles away. Sorry, long answer to a short question.

Doc Holiday

March 28th, 2010
10:55 am

ryan c,
you think this team is not capable of winning 100?
Id say it would win 100 back in the years you mention, but, this aint 2002, now a days, phillies are a powerhouse, florida y a very good team and muts are very good, they can surprise the league anytime if some of their players (not all) play up to their capabilities.
Those are the reasons why this team will not win 100 games, but they will get very close and might surpass 90. Id say we have a 92 wins team.

Jim

March 28th, 2010
10:56 am

Cool story Beachcomber. But one thing confuses me. While they had no “A” team prior to fifteen years ago, I believe it’s been their spring home for twice that long.

Jim

March 28th, 2010
11:00 am

Well it was fun to talk to you BRAVES FANS. I will let you in on the local buzz. If there is another dog in this years hunt, it’s your boys. Delaware

beachcomber

March 28th, 2010
11:17 am

Actually since 1948. Don’t know why they didn’t have a minor league presence prior to that. One factor may have been that their former stadium, Jack Russell, was home to a 10-time World Champion fast pitch softball team – the Clearwater Bombers during the summer. They were a big deal down here and it may have discouraged the Phils from having minor league ball in Clearwater.

Castrologist

March 28th, 2010
11:19 am

The Phillies haven’t done 1/4 of what the Braves did. The Braves went to the postseason for 14 straight years and 5 World Series. There were many years in that span that the Phillies sucked. The Braves organization gave themselves a chance every year to win. Yeah we should have won in 96 and 98, but 91 was no year to be ashamed of, losing in 7 in a 1-0 extra inning game in one of the greatest World Series ever. Eff the phils, and they are going down this year. Count on it.

Jim

March 28th, 2010
11:29 am

sorry but the truth is nobody cares who loses the series, i know from last year. So u can bet your butt nobody cares who lost 12,14 and 19 years ago. relax

Doc Holiday

March 28th, 2010
11:42 am

I had access to some secret files in the phillies club house, it is a fact that Lee is coming back to the phillies once mariners are out of it, but I also talked to Blue Jays owner and he told me that Halladay is going back to toronto as soon as the McCanns and Heywards feet are all over Phillies throat.

At least thats the word…………..right Jim?

Jim

March 28th, 2010
12:20 pm

Well now, I see like his namesake, doc holiday is testy. First the rookie. Many a young outfield phenom has disappeared from the limelight quickly, being flops. Fact is with all 3 of our outfielders being all-stars, your rook wouldn’t even make our team. We have our own outfield phenom, Dominic Brown, who had better stats this spring then your boy. We sent him to the minoe league camp right after he hit 2 bombs of off the Cards ace.

Jim

March 28th, 2010
12:27 pm

guess the facts got ole doc’s tongue tied

jim

March 28th, 2010
1:04 pm

I have been posting here for about 4-5 years, and am not the Phillie fan with the uppercase J.

Stewart

March 28th, 2010
1:27 pm

Jim, it’s amusing that you’re trying to use the fact that the Phillies are the “losingest team in pro sports history” (your words, and true) as a way to bolster your argument. What you’re saying is that the Phillies have been so bad for so long that if they show up in the World Series for a couple of years they have equaled the accomplishments of a team that won 14 straight division championships (with several WS appearances). If this were real life you might have an argument; however, this is baseball, where the playing field is much more even. There weren’t systemic factors that aligned to oppress the poor Phils for all those decades. No, they just were plain awful, and no handful of winning years can make up for that.

However, there is hope. For instance, my Braves were in a similar situation when 1993 rolled around: they had been to two straight WS, but still had a terrible lifetime franchise record. Solution? They had substantial winning records over the next 12 years, and voila, they were close to even Steven on the franchise record thing. The last few years haven’t helped the cause, but a potential return to prominence should see the Braves reversing their lifetime record of futility. Now, given the circumstances, the Phillies may need 20 or 25 consecutive winning years to climb out of the cellar, but even the longest journey starts with a single step, right?

I for one wish your Phillies the best of luck. Actually, I don’t, but I can at least point you to the example the Braves have set… because let’s face it, the Braves are the prototype for pulling a moribund franchise out of the doldrums.

Have a good Sunday.

bvillebaron

March 28th, 2010
1:37 pm

Jim Irvin:

As a lifelong Braves fan living in Pennsylvania (I was a Phillies fan until I saw Hank Aaron play against them as a kid), you epitomize why Philadelphia fans are viewed so negatively around the rest of the country. By any rational measure, winning 14 straight division championships is a tremendous accomplishment and the Phillies winning the last 3 pales in comparison. Do me a favor; get back to me after the Phillies win the next 10 division championships. By the way, last time I checked those Philadelphia Eagles are the only team in the NFC East to not win a Super Bowl.

BravesFanLostInOhio

March 28th, 2010
2:57 pm

Doc Holiday

March 28th, 2010
3:06 pm

I know who cares about who lost the series last year Jim……….want a hint?

Jim

March 28th, 2010
4:40 pm

stewart, that is amusing. As amusing as 1994 when the Expos 6 games ahead the the East standings How do you brave fans claim that title, by default? That same year, I guess you would say the Phils were the defending Nartional league champs, hmm?

Jim

March 28th, 2010
4:47 pm

Well I’m done with Brave fans, now onto the Mets, more sore losers living on past accomplishments. adios

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