McLouth avoids DL, says hamstring is ready

Center fielder Nate McLouth stayed off the disabled list and in the Braves’ opening day lineup after passing tests Sunday to convince trainers – and manager Bobby Cox – that he and his hamstring were ready.

“He feels he can go,” Cox said of McLouth, who was slowed Friday and Saturday by a sore right hamstring. “Range of motion was good, everything was good. He did everything. He’s fine.”

Cox added, “And if he’s not, we’ll go to Plan B tomorrow.”

McLouth slumped badly during spring training and has dropped from the leadoff spot to eighth in the order for opening day Monday against the Chicago Cubs and pitcher Carlos Zambrano.

Melky Cabrera will start in left field and bat leadoff in the opener, and would move to center field if McLouth has any problems with his hamstring.

Matt Diaz isn’t in the lineup, but Cox told his players that all four primary outfielders – McLouth, Cabrera, Diaz and rookie right fielder Jason Heyward – would play plenty this season.

Diaz is expected to get plenty of starts in left field against left-handed pitchers and probably some right-handers, too.

McLouth was relieved to avoid the DL to start a season  he believes is full of promise for the Braves.

“It’s good feeling to know that we have the type of team that we feel like can contend right from the beginning,” he said. “We’re in a tough division, but we’re part of what makes it tough, and we think we have a good shot to compete in the division and ultimately compete for a playoff spot.”

Kawakami pitches in minor league game

With his regular-season debut still a week away, Kenshin Kawakami was sent to pitch in a minor league game Sunday.

The Japanese right-hander pitched four strong innings for Class AAA Gwinnett in an intrasquad game, allowing four hits, one run and no walks with five strikeouts. He threw 58 pitches.

Kawakami is scheduled to start next Sunday at San Francisco in the sixth game of the season. Opening-day starter Derek Lowe is set to pitch again in Game 5 and will be on regular rest because of an off day in the schedule Tuesday.

Jair Jurrjens will pitch Wednesday against the Cubs, followed by Tommy Hanson on Thursday and Tim Hudson in the series opener Friday against the Giants.

26 comments Add your comment

Roll Tider

April 4th, 2010
4:58 pm

81Dawg

April 4th, 2010
5:02 pm

I had a lot of hopes that McLouth would be “the man” but he has been disappointing, to say the least. Really hope he turns it around this year. If not, Melky looks like a ballplayer.

Michael C.

April 4th, 2010
5:28 pm

I’m curious as to why Esco is batting so low, I’m guessin Bobby wants to put him into some RBI situations that will lead to some nice production from the bottom of the order with the JHay Kid! Heading to Atlanta in the morning!! Let’s go out and support our team with a full house tommorow!!!!!

tjhook

April 4th, 2010
5:43 pm

Esco is at the bottom because he hasn’t proven to be a situational hitter. Too selfish at the plate (He hasn’t shown he’ll sacrifice his bat for a runner . . . but he can hit)

bravefaninok

April 4th, 2010
5:57 pm

Esco has high batting average with RISP

dexterthedawg

April 4th, 2010
6:48 pm

I hope that that McLouth does not get spot light syndrom. it sometimes hits small market players, when they come to the bigger cities. thats why not everyone is cut out for new york. at least we dont have to worry about that happening to Melky. now if he can only reach his potential and be a solid player for us, then there is hope. Ive got a feeling that we are gonna need him. I dont like some of the things im seeing from McLouth.

RomeDawg

April 4th, 2010
7:49 pm

Kind of odd that Diaz hits over .300 EVERY year but isn’t starting over McLouth who may have had the worst spring of any MLB player. And to top it off Mclouth has a sore hammy! WTF!!! I know Cox is a good manager but sometimes……

Mike S

April 4th, 2010
8:15 pm

Esco is batting lower to take advantage of his ability to hit with RISP. Prado is actually a better situational hitter (bunts, advancing runners, etc) than Esco, so he is a better fit at #2 while Esco has more power and RBI ability and therefore is a better fit at #6.

sidslidkid

April 4th, 2010
8:54 pm

RomeDawg, how sore is McLouth’s hammy? Seems like you know more about it than the Braves do.

Scorby Jones

April 4th, 2010
9:57 pm

Although I love Matt Diaz to death, the reason he consistently hits over .300 every year, is because of how well the Braves use him in a platoon role.

BM-L26

April 5th, 2010
12:05 am

9:57 pm — Can’t buy into that. I think Diaz is an everyday player who has been held back by the manager for the last two or three years.

Marko

April 5th, 2010
12:22 am

Agree. Diaz should be a full time starter. Look at the outstanding play Diaz had last year when the Braves OF depth sucked and forced them to play Diaz every game.
The guy can flat out hit. His defense is not special but because he plays hard, it is very serviceable. Platooning him only slows him down.
I give him a big pat on the back for not causing a stink about it.

birddawgbill

April 5th, 2010
1:10 am

Two years ago Diaz was named a starter, he struggled badly and then got hurt. I have posted on here before and will once again Diaz is the best 4th OFer in MLB. But he is not an everyday player. He doesnt draw walks and top notch righties make him look bad. I am a huge Diaz fan, hes a very good hitter when protected and a underrated fielder.

Youngerthan Thatnow

April 5th, 2010
3:18 am

Matt Diaz is a good man, a class act and a team player. You haven’t and you won’t hear a peep out of him about his situation. That’s what team players do. He learned it early in life due to good parenting, and later in life that carried over to his years playing at Florida State University, where the best players there are all team players under Mike Martin and his assistants there. He can’t do anything more than what he’s already done to earn a starting spot with the Braves. But mark it down… he will get lots of at bats and be the main reason for many wins for the Braves this year, because that’s what he’s always done.

BM-L26

April 5th, 2010
4:06 am

Diaz is an everyday player and he proved it last year for sure. He has shown that he can hit lefties and righties, and play all three outfield positions well. If all goes as planned the Braves should be in great shape in outfield with the players that they have.

BM-L26

April 5th, 2010
4:13 am

By the way, top notch righties make a lot of good right hand hitters look bad. But, he does need to be more selective about what he swings at, and try to wait for better pitches.

Mike Jay

April 5th, 2010
7:45 am

K.K. would be the third starter on some teams and he is our 5th. Braves starting pitching is once again the class and envy of all of baseball. Should be one heck of a fun season….go Braves!

Dude

April 5th, 2010
8:22 am

McLouth’s legs are like Mike Hampton’s arms!! I hope that doesn’t come back to bite us.

rme

April 5th, 2010
9:40 am

I thought we were going to leave Heyward in Gwinette for a couple of weeks? I read a few weeks ago, if we did, he would have to stay with Atlanta another year (6 years) before becoming a free agent. I guess we can now plan on him being gone in 5 years!

AL HRABOSKY

April 5th, 2010
10:08 am

rme — U been on da moon, the last few weeks?

AL HRABOSKY

April 5th, 2010
10:19 am

U still shoulda heard about Heyward, even in outer space!

fargoNDbrave

April 5th, 2010
10:41 am

something tells me rme is just ruffling feathers…I don’t recognize his/her moniker…therefore I think the comment is fake. He/She just wants the comments section to explode!

RomeDawg

April 5th, 2010
11:13 am

Sidslidkid,

I don’t know OR care how McLouth’s hammy is, my point being start Diaz. I realize some of you say he is a 4th outfielder, however wouldn’t today be a great day to start him? Isn’t this why you have a 4th outfielder, when your everyday guy is banged up and not hitting? Why does Bobby reward a horrible spring with an opening day start for McLouth?

rick11p

April 5th, 2010
2:13 pm

Im not sure they are doing McLouth any favors hitting him eighth, though I guess it might make him look at a few more pitches

Diaz is a victim of the same old, same old way of thinking in baseball. He’s a platoon player basically because that’s what he’s always been. You see the same thing in reverse with guys who are first round picks–they get chance after chance with the team that wasted the pick, and then somebody else grabs them.

On the other hand we got Diaz for nothing from the Royals (who still havent had an OF as good). The scouts probably said (cause that’s what their lazy butts heard from the Royals scouts) He kills lefties but cant hit RHers and isnt good defensively

What this ignores, of course, is that good players work on the weak parts of their game. But the rep is hard to shake. Diaz is probably an average LF now cause he worked on it—certainly better than Garrett the Slug. Same with his baserunning. I love the kid and hope he gets a chance to shine again this year

rick11p

April 5th, 2010
2:14 pm

sorry about the long post. A pet peeve I guess

Fred

April 8th, 2010
11:00 am

McLouth should be the fourth outfielder and given a spot on the bench. He may have potential but from what I have seen since he came from Pittsburgh he is not living up to it.

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