Archive for March, 2010

Stat of the day – McLouth

Don’t look now but Nate McLouth has a three-game hitting streak. The struggling center fielder went 2-for-2 Friday with two singles (one on the infield), two RBIs and a sacrifice fly. He’s 4-for-9 with a home run in the past three games to raise his batting average to .114. Before Tuesday he’d been 1-for-35 this spring.

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Back of bullpen hitting mid-90s

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLA – Braves manager Bobby Cox couldn’t help but watch the radar gun Friday afternoon, and he liked what he saw for some key members of the Braves bullpen.

Closer Billy Wagner was hitting 95 mph in the ninth inning against the Tigers, which Cox expected, but both setup men Takashi Saito and Scott Proctor weren’t far from that.

“Proctor hit 94, 95,” Cox said. “Saito hit 94 the last pitch. That’s the way I remember him.”

Proctor is less than 11 months removed from elbow reconstruction surgery and at this point might not be ready for Opening Day. But after throwing a scoreless inning in his third outing of spring, Cox reiterated that he’s a big part of the Braves plans.

“He certainly figures in big-time,” Cox said.

Japanese media have said Saito was nursing a sore calf coming into camp. Cox said Friday that was the best velocity he’s seen from Saito.

“The velocity hasn’t been there much but today, he threw a 92, 93, and 94,” Cox said. “It’s back. Glad to see …

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Lowe’s ready for Opening Day

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLA. – With Opening Day 10 days away, Braves starter Derek Lowe said he’s ready.

Lowe, who will start on April 5 against the Cubs, pitched his last full-length start of spring training on Friday. He gave up eight hits to the Tigers in six innings of a 5-3 win but only two runs, and one was unearned.

Lowe hasn’t walked a batters in 18 innings and says he’s seeing an offseason of work on mechanical adjustments translate onto the mound.

“It was a spring training I was hoping I would have as far as throwing quality strikes,” Lowe said.

Lowe now 2-0 with a 4.00 ERA, has given up nine runs this spring, but three came in one inning when he popped a blister on his toe and he gave up four more in one inning to the Blue Jays in Dunedin on Saturday.

“I didn’t try to reinvent the wheel in the last five days that I’ve had a tendency to do,” Lowe said. “It’s all signs of hopefully going out there and pitching the way I should this upcoming year.”

Lowe went 15-10 with a …

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Braves suspend minor leaguer Heath indefinitely

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLA – The Braves announced Friday they have suspended minor league pitcher Deunte Heath, who was arrested Thursday night in Kissimmee, Fla. on misdemeanor charges for soliciting a prostitute.

Heath was released from jail Friday and sent home to Decatur, Ga. by the Braves.

“The club is continuing to gather information regarding the charges against him in Osceola County, Fla. and will have no further comment at this time,” the Braves said in a statement released by spokesman Brad Hainje.

Heath allegedly solicited a prostitute from internet ads.

Heath, 24, pitched in 32 games last year in Class AA Mississippi and Class AAA Gwinnett, going 2-6 with a 5.20 ERA. The Atlanta native was drafted by the Braves in the 19th round in 2006 out of the University of Tennessee.

Braves pitcher Tommy Hanson, who played with Heath during stints in Class A Rome and Myrtle Beach, as well as Class AA Mississippi, was stunned at the news about a person he considered a good …

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Heyward will wear No. 22

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLA – Just another slow news day at the ballpark….

Bobby Cox tells Jason Heyward this morning he’s making the team. It’s official. And just a little aside to that, I have another tidbit for you I’ve learned. Heyward will wear No. 22, I’m told.

(Actually, the Braves just made it official. It was just announced here in the press box at 2 p.m.)

So there you have it, the funny-looking 71 Heyward has been wearing all spring (and last spring too, I think) will gave way for a good number, suited for an every-day player, and who the heck knows, maybe a place up on the Braves outfield wall before this is all over.

There, I did it, I bought into the hype. But the way everyone is talking around here, it wouldn’t be a big surprise to see the J-Hey kid blossom into one of the game’s greats.

Braves GM Frank Wren just compared the scrutiny Heyward’s gotten this spring to Ken Griffey Jr., Alex Rodriguez and Stephen Strasburg.

I think that’s why Heyward’s reaction seemed a …

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Heyward told he’ll be on Opening Day roster – updated

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLA – The date is March 26, 2010 and it’s one to remember. J-Hey Kid made it to the majors.

Jason Heyward was called into manager Bobby Cox’s office about 8:45 a.m. on Friday morning in Braves camp and told he would be on the Opening Day roster.

“I said ‘I’m delighted to tell you that you’re on the team, Jason, simply because it makes us a better team,’” a beaming Cox relayed Friday morning from the Braves dugout.

Heyward will be the Braves starting right fielder on Opening Day. As chipper as Cox sounded, Heyward was just as cool.

“Not surprised, not relieved,” Heyward said when asked for his reaction, after batting practice. “It’s just says ‘Let’s go.’ I’ve got less than a week’s time to get ready for the season.”

At the moment he said that, Heyward had just finished off a plate of tuna salad and a bowl of fruit. He had not made any phone calls, not to his family or friends or agents. His closest friend on the team – Freddie Freeman – who lockers beside …

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Heyward will open season as Braves right fielder

Braves manager Bobby Cox informed Jason Heyward this morning that he has made the team.

The top Braves propsect will open the season as the Braves right fielder.

Cox said he told Heyward: “I’m delighted to tell you you’re on the team, Jason, simply because you make us a better team.”

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Next for Braves – Tigers

Next for Braves

Who: vs. Tigers

When: 1:05 p.m.

Where: Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

TV: ESPN

Radio: 1230, 1340

Comment: Braves starter Derek Lowe tries to get back on track after a four-run outing in Dunedin. He takes on Justin Verlander.

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Stat of the day

Reliever Jesse Chavez gave up five runs on six hits and a walk Thursday to watch a 6-1 lead disappear in 1/3 of an inning. All six hits were singles, including three on the infield.

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Heyward smoked another single, going 1-for-4

BRADENTON, FLA – Everything Jason Heyward did Thursday was hard.

He fouled a ball off Pirates catcher Ryan Doumit’s that broke the plastic visor on his facemask. He roped a single up the middle. He ran down a fly ball in the corner off the bat of Doumit, going full speed to the right field line to save Kenshin Kawakami a run.

“God almighty, I don’t know where he came from to get that ball,” Braves manager Bobby Cox said.

When Heyward singled off Charlie Morton, the former Brave was extremely lucky that the single wasn’t literally “off” Morton. It was smoked.

“If that was at somebody, no way they could have caught it,” Cox said. “No way.”

Heyward was 1-for-4 Thursday with a strikeout and a run scored. He has hits in 13 of the 16 games he’s played in this spring and is hitting .366.

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