Archive for April, 2010

Braves go on the offensive to snap streak – Friday’s postgame comments

So look what happens when the Braves get aggressive:

Nate McLouth swings on the first pitch of the game Friday night – home run.

Jason Heyward swings on the first pitch he sees in the third inning – two-run home run.

Tommy Hanson pounds the strike zone with 72 of his 99 pitches for strikes.

With that, and a Billy Wagner save, the Braves snapped their nine-game losing streak by going on the offensive Friday night, and it worked out perfectly.

It was a beautiful thing to manager Bobby Cox, who’s been wanting Braves like Heyward and McLouth to swing at hittable strikes.

“You can’t feel for the ball all the time,” Cox said. “You’ve got to let it go once in a while. Hopefully (McLouth) will continue to be more aggressive.”

Apparently Heyward doesn’t need to be told twice. The 20-year-old has shown the ability to make lightning-quick adjustments his first month in the big leagues.

On Wednesday, Cox sat him for the first time this season, after he struck out looking with the bases …

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Jones: Braves must relax to snap nine-game skid

Do what you can – and no more.

That, according to Chipper Jones, will be how the Braves snap their nine-game losing streak and not fall too far back in the NL East standings.

“The guys have to relax,” the Braves third baseman said before Friday’s game against the Astros. “The pitchers are trying to make perfect pitches, guys are trying to hit five-run homers with nobody on base, guys not playing good defense. All those things contribute to streaks like this. Everyone just has to relax. You have a few chances to impact the outcome of a game, whether it’s your four or five at-bats or a couple plays in the field. Concentrate on those situations and make the most of them and at the end of the day hopefully it’s enough.

“It’s human nature. We are all professionals. We feel we can do more than we actually can at certain times. … We can’t worry about personal stuff – whether you go 3-for-4, 2-for-4 or 0-for-4. Don’t worry about the individual stuff. Go out and be part of the equation …

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Actor Luke Wilson visits Turner Field

Actor Luke Wilson visited Turner Field Friday as a guest of broadcaster Joe Simpson.

He watched batting practice, met Chipper Jones and manager Bobby Cox and got a little tongue-in-cheek from Braves president John Schuerholz.

After someone suggested Schuerholz might have Wilson throw a bullpen session, Schuerholz shook his head no and quipped: “Can you hit?”

Wilson, who dates Simpson’s daughter Meg, grew up in Dallas and pulls for the Texas Rangers but said he’s been a Braves fan as well from their years on TBS and pulled for them in the 1990s.

As for meeting Jones? Wilson said he seemed like a nice guy, and then paid Jones this Hollywood-worthy compliment: “If somebody was going to play a baseball player in a movie, it should be Chipper.”

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Jordan speaks to Jones about comments

Brian Jordan apologized to former teammate Chipper Jones after recent comments he made on a nationally syndicated radio show.

Jordan said Friday that didn’t necessarily apologize for his comments – that Jones should train harder and stretch more to avoid injuries – but rather that the Braves third baseman had to deal with the fallout.

“Chipper and I are friends,” said Jordan, now a broadcaster for Braves’ pre- and post-game shows and the Class AAA Gwinnett Braves. “I don’t know what training Chipper does. All I know is as I got older and later in my career I had to make adjustments to my training. What I said was just my opinion. I told him I was sorry he had to deal with all that in New York.”

Jordan said he addressed the matter as part of a G-Braves broadcast Thursday and would again Friday on the Braves pre-game show. He also said he intended to apologize to manager Bobby Cox.

Jones told the AJC this week that he would reserve judgment on Jordan’s comments.

“I would have …

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Wagner, 38, plans to retire at season’s end

Billy Wagner will retire at the end of this season, the 38-year-old closer told Braves manager Bobby Cox on Friday.

Wagner, who is sixth all-time in saves with 387, wanted to reach 400 career saves and has it plainly in his sights. But with or without that mark, and whether he comes close to John Franco’s saves record for a lefthander at 424 , he’ll call it quits at the end of the 2010 season. He said he will not play out his $6.5 million option for next season, which automatically vests if he finishes 50 games.

He wants to spend more time with his family.

“I still like the competition, that’s why I do it,” said Wagner, who turns 39 on July 25. “I like going out and winning, that still drives me. But being home with them last year, I enjoyed it. There’s so much more to offer them at this age, and I need to be home.”

Wagner and his wife Sarah have three sons and a daughter: Will 11, Jeremy 9, Olivia 6, Cason 3. They live on a farm in Crozet, Virginia near Charlottesville. He …

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Jurrjens’ next start pushed back until Saturday, Escobar out of lineup

Jair Jurrjens’s next start will be pushed back to next Saturday at Philadelphia so he can rest his sore left hamstring. The off day Monday will allow the Braves to skip his turn in the rotation and keep everyone else on regular rest.

Jurrjens had to leave Thursday’s start in St. Louis after only one inning because of a sore left hamstring. He thought he could pitch through it but came out after he admitted it was changing his delivery to compensate for the pain. He gave up a three-run home run to David Freese.

“I want to go out there being at least 90 percent,” said Jurrjens, who has also battled shoulder soreness since before spring training. “Every start I have something bugging me. Maybe this will be a good chance to get all the stuff that has been bugging me to at least 90 percent and at least be myself again.”

Jurrjens was examined by the team doctor on Friday afternoon.

“They said it was improving,” Jurrjens said. “It just feels stiff. Rapid movement is the only time I …

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Braves back at The Ted, trying to stop the madness

(Staff writer Carroll Rogers is filling in for David O’Brien today.)

At this point, something, anything’s got to change to shake the Braves out of this nightmare funk. Waking up in their own beds this morning? Coming home to face the Astros, the last-place team in the Central? Connector paving projects to change their routes home?

Hey, whatever it takes to mix it up.

We already know about the worst road trip (0-7) the Braves just completed since the 1949 Boston Braves. Unreal.

That leaves the Braves in position tonight, in the start of a quick three-game home stand – to match their longest losing streak since dropping 10 in a row in June of 2006. (They lost 83 games that year and finished 18 games out of first place.)

I looked up that losing streak and I knew there would be something weird about it. Guess who the Braves were playing when it started on June 11? The Houston Astros. Guess who the winning pitcher was that night for the Astros? Wandy Rodriguez.

Rodriguez was …

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Braves’ 0-7 trip is worst since 1949

61 – years since the Braves had a trip as bad as the one that ended Thursday.

This 0-7 trip against the Mets and Cardinals marked the first time the Braves went winless in a trip of at least seven games  since September 1949, when the Boston Braves went 0-8 at Philadelphia and Brooklyn. (It’s never a good sign when your team’s dubious feat is the worst since the franchise played an opponent in Brooklyn.)

Before Thursday, the last Braves team to go winless on a trip of at least six games was the 1980 team that went 0-6 on a season-opening trip to Cincinnati and Houston.

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Wainwright beats Braves, praises Cox

St. Louis – After former Braves prospect Adam Wainwright pitched six strong innings for the Cardinals to remain unbeaten (5-0) against Atlanta, the big right-hander from Brunswick was asked about Cox’s last scheduled visit to Busch Stadium.

“I made sure I was out there when he got his award,” Wainwright said of a presentation before Wednesday’s game, when Cardinals manager Tony La Russa presented Cox with a large, autographed photo of Stan Musial, one of Cox’s favorite players as a kid.

Wainwright, 28, was a Braves first-round draft pick in 2000 and was shipped to the Cardinals, with pitchers Jason Marquis and Ray King, in the December 2003 trade for J.D. Drew and Eli Marrero.

“I never got to play for [Cox] in the regular season but I played for him in spring training and I know he’s a class act and future hall of famer,” Wainwright said. “I watched him every night at 7:35 on TBS growing up.”

Wainwright is 5-0 with a 2.00 ERA in eight games (five starts) against the Braves, …

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Heyward snaps two homerless streaks

St. Louis -- Jason Heyward’s seventh-inning homer Thursday off lefty Dennys Reyes snapped a pair of homerless streaks, one by Braves hitters and the other by Cardinals pitchers.

Heyward’s team-high fifth homer was the first for the Braves during their nine-game losing streak, and the first of the season against a Cardinals pitcher at Busch Stadium.

St. Louis pitchers worked 98 home innings before giving up a long ball, the first team to go that long without giving up a homer at home since the 1972 Chicago White Sox, who also allowed their first in their 99th inning.

Heyward had been 1-for-20 with eight strikeouts and no RBI in his past eight games before going 2-for-4 on Thursday. Though he’s only 5-for-24 (.208) against lefties, two of the hits were home runs.

After Heyward struck out on a called third strike with the bases loaded in Tuesday’s loss against the Cardinals, manager Bobby Cox said the prized rookie needed to stop taking so many pitches and be a little more …

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