Archive for March, 2010

Rain threat pushes Hanson to minor league game

Viera, Fla. – When Tommy Hanson pitched against Class AAA Gwinnett hitters Sunday, the results were about what you’d probably expect.

He allowed three hits and one run in six innings for Class AA Mississippi in an intraorganization game at Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Hanson had  three strikeouts with two walks and threw 71 pitches.

The right-hander had been set to face the Washington Nationals on Sunday, but plans were changed due to the threat of afternoon storms.

“The best thing to do was try to get in as many innings as he could” in the morning game, manager Bobby Cox said after the rest of the scheduled travel roster made the 75-minute bus ride to Viera, Fla., for the game with the Nationals.

Hanson is 1-0 with a 2.51 ERA in four Grapefruit League games.

“I just wanted to make sure he got his work in,” Cox said. “Didn’t want him to come over here and get in two innings. We’re supposed to get two to four inches of rain.”

The Braves used all relief pitchers against the Nationals, …

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Heyward scratched from lineup with sore shin

Viera, Fla. – Rookie sensation Jason Heyward was scratched from the Braves’ lineup Sunday due to shin splints, a condition that’s not considered serious but could linger if not taken care of early.

The 245-pound right fielder had received treatment on his left shin for the past couple of days, but the Braves decided to rest him Sunday when he had discomfort in batting practice.

“It’s just one of those things you want to nip in the bud, before it does become something that could put you out for a week,” general manager Frank Wren said.

It’s uncertain how much Heyward will play in the remaining four Grapefruit League games in Florida, before they return to Atlanta for their final exhibition games Friday and Saturday against the Chicago White Sox at Turner Field.

“He’s got to take some time off from running,” manager Bobby Cox said. “He’ll be fine…. Give him a couple of days off and see what happens.”

Heyward, 20, is the No. 1 prospect in baseball and has been one of …

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Blanco optioned to Class AAA, more cuts coming

Viera, Fla. – Outfielder Gregor Blanco was optioned to Class AAA Gwinnett on Sunday, reducing the Braves’ camp roster to 36.

Manager Bobby Cox said there would be more cuts on Monday as the Braves continue reducing shaping what will be their 25-man opening day roster. They opened camp just over five weeks ago with 58 players on hand including 18 non-roster invitees.

Blanco hit .241 (7-for-29) with no extra-base hits, six walks and four strikeouts in 20 games. With rookie Jason Heyward in right field and Melky Cabrera and Matt Diaz likely to split left-field duties, there’s no room for a fifth outfielder who plays no other positions.

Among the Braves’ bench players, Eric Hinske has corner-outfield experience and infielder Omar Infante can play center field. Cabrera figures to be the primary backup to center fielder Nate McLouth.

Utility infielders Joe Thurston and Brooks Conrad are competing for the last bench job.

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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 …

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Next for Braves: Nationals

Next for Braves

Who: vs. Nationals

When: 1:05 p.m.

Where: Viera, Fla.

Radio: 680

Comment: Tommy Hanson (1-0, 2.51 ERA) makes his last start of the Florida leg of spring training and faces Washington’s Scott Olsen, the former Marlins lefty.

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Acosta cut, drops roster to 37

37 – number on camp roster after Manny Acosta was cut

The right-handed reliever was optioned to Class AAA Gwinnett on Saturday.

Manager Bobby Cox said the Braves would make more cuts Sunday and/or Monday as they whittle the roster to 25 before opening day.

Acosta allowed five hits, four runs and four walks in three innings over his last three spring appearances, and his good arm and 10 strikeouts (in seven innings) this spring weren’t enough for the Braves to consider keeping him on the opening-day roster.

He issued three walks in his final spring appearance Thursday against Pittsburgh, and took the loss in that gave after blowing a save in his previous appearance.

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Escobar rests sore back

Lake Buena Vista, Fla. – Yunel Escobar was scratched from the lineup Saturday after waking with a sore lower back. It’s not believed to be serious, but the shortstop is questionable for Sunday’s road game against the Washington Nationals in Viera, Fla.

“He’s out of whack in the back,” said Braves manager Bobby Cox, who had Escobar on the travel roster for Sunday’s game, but said he wouldn’t know until the morning whether he’d have to make a change.

Other lineup regulars scheduled to make the trip Sunday: Chipper Jones, Martin Prado, Matt Diaz, Jason Heyward and Nate McLouth.

Escobar hasn’t played in two games after having a scheduled day off Friday. He’s had some bouts with back spasms in the past.

Backup catcher David Ross has missed two games with a groin strain, but took batting practice Saturday. He’s hitting .357 with four doubles and eight RBIs in 28 at-bats, and was 2-for-2 with a pair of singles in his last game …

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Jurrjens has first strong start of spring

Lake Buena Vista, Fla. – With only one week left in spring training, Jair Jurrjens needed a solid outing against major league hitters. He got it Saturday.

The Braves right-hander pitched five innings and didn’t allow a runner to reach second base during a 4-0 win against the Washington Nationals at Champion Stadium.

“That’s the best I’ve felt the whole spring training,” said Jurrjens, who allowed one hit and two walks with three strikeouts while throwing 40 strikes in 59 pitches. “Everything was working today. I was finally staying over the [pitching] rubber, staying back.”

Jurrjens was slowed the first two weeks of camp by shoulder inflammation and made only two starts against major league teams before Saturday – two scoreless innings of one-hit ball against Pittsburgh, and three innings (five hits, three runs) against Florida.

His most recent start was against Detroit’s Class AAA affiliate on Monday, after a rainout Sunday pushed his turn to the Braves’ only scheduled off …

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Heyward’s dad: Try to be one of best to ever play

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Eugene and Laura's eldest son on Caravan stop at his high school alma mater, Henry County

Lake Buena Vista, Fla. – Spend some time with Eugene and Laura Heyward, and it’s easy to see where their son Jason gets the “mental makeup” that teammates and Braves officials praise as much as  his physical skills.

A few of us talked to the Heywards this morning in the dugout, after they drove down here in the wee hours from Atlanta – they left at 4 a.m., with youngest son Jacob, 14 – to surprise Jason after Friday’s announcement that he’d made the team.

After hitting coach Terry Pendleton came down where we were at the end of the dugout to shake their hands and tell the Heywards what a great kid they raised, I asked Eugene if he was a proud of things like that as he was of Jason’s baseball prowess.

“Absolutely,” he said. “Because that’s what life’s about. It’s about people. If people recognize you for what we try to [instill] in our family … [that] people make the world go round — …

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Next for Braves – Nationals

Next for Braves

Who: vs. Nationals

When: 1:05 p.m.

Where: Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

Radio: 680

Comment: Jair Jurrjens makes his third official start of spring and first since rain forced him to pitch in a Class AAA game on Monday. He’ll face former Brave Jason Marquis.  Braves reliever Takashi Saito is scheduled for his first work on consecutive days. He pitched a scoreless inning Friday agianst the Tigers.

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