Archive for May, 2010

Heyward leads National League with .991 OPS

.991 – Jason Heyward’s OPS, the highest in the National League.

Not quite two months into his rookie season, the Braves’ 20-year-old phenom leads the NL in on base-plus-slugging percentage, ahead of Philadelphia slugger Jayson Werth (.990).

Heyward had two hits and a walk Friday to raise his on-base percentage to a whopping .422, to go with a .568 slugging percentage. (His total rounds up to .991.)

He  also ranks among NL leaders in each category individually.

The only major leaguers with higher OPS totals than Heyward after Friday’s games were American League stars Justin Morneau (1.170), Miguel Cabrera (1.074), Kevin Youklis (1.041) and Robinson Cano (.994).

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Saturday preview: Medlen faces Pirates

Next for Braves

Who: vs. Pirates

When: 7:10 p.m. Saturday.

TV; radio: SportSouth; 680 AM, 100.5 FM

Saturday’s matchup: Braves RH Kris Medlen (1-1, 2.57 ERA) vs. LH Brian Burres (2-2, 5.40 ERA).

– Medlen has no decisions and a 2.76 ERA in three fill-in starts. He pitched 5-2/3 innings (seven hits, two runs) in Sunday’s 10-inning loss at Pittsburgh, allowing two hits through the first four scoreless innings.  He faced the Pirates one other time, getting a win in June 2009 when he pitched three scoreless innings of one-hit ball. In 16 overall appearances this season, lefties have hit .222 with a .265 OBP against him, while righties have hit .328 with a .361 OBP.

– Burres is 0-1 with a 7.90 ERA in the past three of his six starts this season, with 19 hits and seven walks allowed in 13-2/3 innings. He has an 8.20 road ERA in five games (four starts). Burres hasn’t faced the Braves.  He has a 2.50 ERA in four home games (two starts), and a 8.20 ERA in five road games …

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McCann out of lineup for second straight game

Brian McCann was out of the Braves lineup Friday, the second straight game he missed with a strained right quadriceps. However, both McCann and manager Bobby Cox said the catcher was healthy enough to play if needed.

“My quad feels better,” McCann said. “Bobby decided to play [David Ross]. I will be in there for a pinch hit or be in there late. … I would have to take it easy on the bases, but other than that I feel good.”

McCann felt a “tweak” running between first and second on Yunel Escobar’s fly out in the fourth inning of Wednesday’s game against Florida. He said he caught it before it turned into a “pull.”

McCann underwent an ultrasound treatment and stretching before Friday’s game.

In his last two starts, Ross is 3-for-7 with a double and three RBIs. In 10 starts this season before Friday, Ross is batting .265 (9-for-34) with eight RBIs, seven walks and a .390 on-base percentage.

“I’m definitely the back up catcher and have a back up role, but the day …

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Etc.: Prado leads National League in hits

Before Friday, Martin Prado led the National League in hits (62) and led the majors in leadoff on-base percentage (.407). He was 25-for-78 (.321) with three homers, 15 runs and 16 RBI in his past 17 games…. All-Star candidate Jason Heyward was third in the NL in on base-plus-slugging percentage at .978, trailing the Phillies’ Jayson Werth (.996) and the Cubs’ Alfonso Soriano (.990)…. The Braves are 7-2 with a 2.57 ERA and 60 runs in their past nine road games, after going 5-14 with a 5.02 ERA and 61 runs in their first 19…. Atlanta had a league-high .399 OBP with runners in scoring position, and a league-high .379 OBP in the late innings of close games.  … Former Braves pitcher Charlie Morton was placed on the 15-day disabled list with right shoulder fatigued by the Pirates before Friday’s game. Braves minor-league pitcher Mike Minor had eight strikeouts for Double-A Mississippi on Thursday to raise his season total to 80.

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Jurrjen to have hamstring examined

Jair Jurrjens was scheduled to have his strained left hamstring examined by a doctor on Friday. The Braves right-hander hoped to be cleared to step up his rehabilitation for a return to the rotation.

“It feels great,” Jurrjens said. “Hopefully I’ll get cleared to start doing something off the mound, some stuff that’s more aggressive. … If I can make my own decision, I think by next week I can be doing something. I’ll see what they want to do.”

Jurrjens injured his hamstring preparing for a start against St. Louis on April 29 and had to be pulled after one inning. He suffered a setback while running in Milwaukee earlier this month. An MRI didn’t reveal a significant tear but enough swelling to cost him more several weeks.

Jurrjens is 0-3 with a 6.58 ERA in five starts this season and has been hampered by injuries since early February. He suffered shoulder inflammation after making an awkward throw in his native Curacao a week before reporting to spring …

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Diaz progessing, hopes to return before All-Star break

If Matt Diaz has his way, he will return to the Braves lineup before the All-Star break.

The Braves outfielder expects to have stitches removed Wednesday after undergoing surgery to remove a one centimeter long splinter from his infected right thumb.

“The thumb is doing great,” Diaz said Friday before the Braves opened a three-game series against the Pirates. “The way the team has been playing has been great to watch.”

Diaz said he expects to meet with an infectious disease doctor one more time. Diaz, who is on medication to fight the infection in his thumb, said the affected tissue caused a nerve to be reshaped around the area. That caused the pain in the thumb that eventually resulted in the discovery of the piece of broken bat that was removed.

Diaz said he still needs to talk to doctors and team officials to be cleared to return from the disabled list but hopes to be ready before the All-Star break July 12-14.

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Another big homestand for Braves before long trip

Before anyone gets too giddy about the Braves’ 17 wins in 25 games since the nine-game skid (including 12-4 in the last 16), or the fact that they have the most runs and most walks in the NL in May, or that Friday Night Lights is just as terrific after Coach Taylor’s move to East Dillon, keep in mind the Braves still rank last in the league in average (.219) and OPS (.631) against lefties.

And they’ll face three lefty starters in the next three days.

Braves hitting coach Terry Pendleton's had a lot more to smile about lately. (Vino Wong photo/AJC)

Braves hitting coach Terry Pendleton's had a lot more to smile about lately. (Vino Wong photo/AJC)

OK, so maybe that is offset somewhat by the fact that those lefties pitch for the Pittsburgh Pirates, losers of 12 of their past 18, and two of those starters have ERAs of 4.47 (Zach Duke, tonight’s starter) and 5.40 (Brian Burres, Saturday’s starter).

Speaking of tonight, it’s a good matchup: Duke has a 2.22 ERA and three quality starts in his past four, including seven innings with no earned runs in a no-decision in a 3-2, …

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Stat of the day – Jones claims franchise walk record

With his sixth-inning walk Thursday night against the Marlins, Chipper Jones reached 1,377 walks for his career and surpassed Hall of Famer Eddie Mathews for the Braves franchise record in walks. He added one more in the seventh to give him 1,378 for his career and 35 on the season, which is third-best in the majors.

Not even Hank Aaron eclipsed 1,300 in his 21 seasons with the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves. He had 1,297.

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Braves postgame comments from the clubhouse Thursday night

Miami – Some postgame quotes from the Braves clubhouse on a late night in Florida after an 8-3 Braves win. It’s pretty much the Tim Hudson show, given the late hour, quick turnaround and all that, but he had some great stuff to say, so I won’t apologize for it.

Tim Hudson on the rainy conditions in the fourth:

“It was tougher than I’m willing to admit,” Hudson said. “It wasn’t that it was slippery or anything like that. It was just, dadgum, my hands and the balls were so wet, especially when Sanchez was up. I had to start putting the ball under my boiler, so it wouldn’t get wet. When I hold it behind my back, like I normally do, it’s just pouring on it. It took me three pitches to figure out I can’t throw a strike when it’s dripping.”

Hudson on pulling to within 1 ½ games of the Phillies:

“When we lost nine in a row, man, a game and a half back seemed like forever away,” Hudson said. “We’ve done a nice job getting back to where we are now. …

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Retirement decision still a ways off for Chipper Jones

Miami – Chipper Jones raised some concern among Braves fans when he discussed the idea of retiring at the end of the season again in an interview with a Miami radio station Wednesday.

“I am seriously considering it no matter how this year ends up for the Atlanta Braves,” Jones told 790 The Ticket. “It’s something that’s still in the works but hasn’t been ruled out for the end of the year. I’m not going to stick around and hamstring this organization if I’m not playing well and not enjoying myself.”

Jones first brought up the idea of retiring at the end of the 2010 season last summer in an interview with the Journal-Constitution. He said he would consider retirement if he had another discouraging year at the plate, despite having two years left on his three-year $42 million extension (through 2012).

Earlier this month, Jones said he wasn’t thinking much about retiring anymore, at least for now. On Thursday he made it clear he won’t be making any …

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