Archive for June, 2010

Diaz activated from the disabled list

Matt Diaz was expecting two or three more games of a minor league rehabilitation assignment but declared himself ready enough to replace Jason Heyward on the Braves’ active roster.

Diaz flew back from an assignment in Columbus (OH) Tuesday morning to rejoin the Braves for the first time since going on the disabled list May 15, headed for surgery on an infected thumb.

Diaz said his thumb held up fine while he went 3-for-12 (.250) in three games for Triple-A Gwinnett.

“Even broke a bat on purpose to make sure the thumb was OK and it didn’t hurt, so everything was fine,” he joked.

Diaz hit only .178 in 28 games for the Braves this season before it was discovered that the infected splinter he thought he had removed last October was still causing problems.

“We suppressed it with high-dose antibiotics last year and when we cut out some of the infected tissue last year,” Diaz said. “But the fact that it came back, none of us were really thrilled – me, the trainers or the doctor. We …

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Kawakami not surprised by move to the bullpen

Despite his dominant start against the Tigers Saturday, a move to the bullpen was almost inevitable for Kenshin Kawakami and he knew it.

The Braves announced Monday night Kawakami was moving to a relief role, rather than Kris Medlen, with Jair Jurrjens returning to the rotation from the disabled list Wednesday night.

“Looking at my stats, I’m not surprised,” said Kawakami, through his interpreter.

He needed seven one-run innings vs. the Tigers to win his first game of the year. He’s 1-9 with a 4.48 ERA.

“To me everything as a whole was just bad,” he said.

Kawakami wasn’t surprised and he didn’t want to use the word “disappointed” either.

“It wouldn’t be right saying I’d be disappointed because in the bullpen there’s also a job too, a very important job,” Kawakami said. “As a member of this team, I just need to do my best to contribute as much in a different role.”

Kawakami is 8-19 with a 4.16 ERA in 40 games in the last two years as a starter. He went 0-2 with a 2.63 and one …

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Utley to DL paves way for Prado to start All-Star game

The Phillies placed second baseman Chase Utley on the disabled list Tuesday with a strained thumb, which should open the door for the Braves’ Martin Prado to start the All-Star game in Anaheim.

Utley has had a commanding lead in the voting all along and was more than one million votes ahead of the second-place Prado in the latest tally released Tuesday. Prado was relying on National League manager Charlie Manuel to name him a reserve but now it seems Manuel will be doing more than that.

“He should have had it anyway,” Braves manager Bobby Cox said of a starting spot for Prado.

Prado was leading the National League with a .331 batting average and the majors in hits (108) heading into Tuesday night’s game. He seemed more concerned with Utley’s loss than his own personal gain and a chance to start the first All-Star game of his career.

“I haven’t even been thinking about that to be honest with you,” said Prado, who wasn’t even a full-time starter at second base until this season. …

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Heyward says he wouldn’t play in All-Star game, if chosen, because of thumb

Jason Heyward will be eligible to come off the disabled list on the Monday of the All-Star break (July 12), and judging by the most recent All-Star voting released Tuesday, he’s poised to become the youngest starter voted in since Ken Griffey Jr. in 1990.

But Heyward said Tuesday if his left thumb is preventing him from playing for the Braves, he doesn’t think it’s appropriate to play in the All-Star game.

“I actually don’t plan on playing in the All-Star game if I’m selected because if I can’t play for this team right here right now, then I don’t want to go play in that game and jeopardize the second half,” Heyward said. “If I can, I’d still like to go and show my support and appreciation to the fans who voted.”

Heyward was within 60,000 votes of the leading outfielder in the National League Ryan Braun in the most recent National League tally released Tuesday afternoon. With 2,205,534 votes, Heyward is the fourth-highest vote-getter among all NL players behind only Albert …

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So what now, the day after Strasmas?

Now that this guy's turn is over, what next?

Now that this guy's turn is over, what next?

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

So it’s the day after Strasmas. Where do you go from there? Back to your typical Braves-Nationals matchup?

I’d say there might be a letdown out at the ballpark tonight, but that should only be with the fans, who might not be beating down the doors to come out for Game 2 of your run-of-the-mill now Braves-Nats series. But for the Braves themselves? You have to think they got a big momentum boost from what they did against Stephen Strasburg in a 5-0 win last night.

Tim Hudson pitched as if to say “Strasburg who?” and the Braves just kept chipping away, finding some openings against the young man with the golden arm. Sure momentum is only as big as the next day’s starter but the Braves have the edge there too.

Tonight, the Braves face Craig Stammen, the right-hander who was sent down to the minors in early June when Strasburg was called up to make his major league …

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Braves quotes after win against Strasburg

BOBBY COX

On Hudson

“Nothing was hit hard [against him]. A lot of grubworms tonight. He had that ball boring in on them all night long and they just hit it right into the ground. One ball I think, Dunn hit a ball pretty good down the left-field line, and that was it.

“His pitch count got high, but he was tough. Really tough.”

On Strasburg

“We hit the ball early and hard against Strasburg, and then later on. But he’s as advertised. He’s dynamite. He’s great, something really good for baseball to come along, something that special. And he’s got maybe the best change-up for a first-year player that I’ve ever seen. Everybody talks about his fastball, but that change-up just darts straight down at 90-91 [mph]. It looks like some guys best heater – going straight down.”

On crowd: “It was great. We had 40,000 people or so. It was a great evening. To beat him, it was a plus, but the kid’s as advertised. He’s got a great future.”

“He gave us a couple of pitches to hit and we hit them. …

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Kawakami, not Medlen, is headed to bullpen

Kenshin Kawakami is headed to the bullpen to open a spot for Jair Jurrjens, who is finally fit to pitch again for the Braves.

Manager Bobby Cox announced after Monday night’s game that Jurrjens would start Wednesday’s series finale against the Nationals and  that Kawakami would be the odd man out of the rotation.

Kris Medlen, who has pitched better as a starter than Kawakami, will stay in the rotation. Medlen had moved from the bullpen to fill in for Jurrjens initially, but now he’ll remain and Kawakami (1-9) will go to a relief role.

“I’m really excited,” said Jurrjens,  who’s been sidelined since April 29 by a pulled left hamstring that he reinjured in mid-May. “It’s like making my major league debut again, I’ve been out such a long time.

“Just coming back, we have a good vibe going on and I hope I can fit in and help the team keep winning.”

Cox has said getting Jurrjens back would be like trading for a top starting pitcher. The right-hander went 14-10 last season with …

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Tuesday preview: Lowe’s on a strong run

Who: vs. Nationals

When: 7:10 p.m. Tuesday

TV; radio: WPCH; 680 AM, 100.5 FM

Monday’s matchup: Braves RH Derek Lowe (9-5, 4.42 ERA) vs.  RH Craig Stammen (1-2, 5.43 ERA).

* Lowe is 5-2 with a 3.28 ERA in his past nine starts, including five quality starts in his past six. He’s 6-4 with a 3.68 ERA in 18 career games (12 starts) against the Nationals, but was just 1-3 with a 5.06 ERA in five starts against them in 2009.

* Stammen was recalled from Triple-A Monday. He went 0-2 with a 4.80 ERA in his last eight starts before being sent to the minors three weeks ago when Stephen Strasburg was added to the rotation. Stammen pitched well in his only start against the Braves, allowing four hits and two runs (on two homers) in six innings for no decision last Aug. 12 at Turner Field.

* DAVID O’BRIEN

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Heyward placed on DL, but won’t need surgery

Braves rookie standout Jason Heyward was placed on the 15-day disabled list late Monday with a deep bone bruise in the sore left thumb that has plagued him for six weeks.

Outfielder Matt Diaz will be activated to take the roster spot of Heyward, who will wear a cast for six days and, the Braves hope, be ready to play after 15 days. Surgery will not be required.

Diaz played three rehab games in Triple-A recovering from thumb surgery to remove a splinter that had caused an infection.

Heyward’s thumb was bruised at the base of a ligament and the injury was diagnosed after an MRI exam Monday morning. The big right fielder had missed two weekend games after soreness that plagued him for six weeks worsened to the point where he could no longer grip the bat using the thumb on his top hand.

“They’re going to cast it for a week, and then go from there,” manager Bobby Cox said. “But he should be OK, hopefully, in 15 days.

The MRI exam revealed a bruise and strained ligament where it …

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The wunderkind is in town: Strasburg vs. Braves

While we wait to hear a report on the MRI that Jason Heyward had this morning on his left thumb, let’s consider how compelling tonight’s matchup between the Braves and the Nationals’ Stephen Strasburg should will be even without Heyward.

nationals-strasburg_625170g

(In voice of Tony Montana:) Say hello to my little fastball….

(And yes, he’s out of the lineup. He’s had only Saturday and Sunday off, and Heyward seems intent on taking care of this thing as best he can this time, rather than just resting a couple of days. I’m guessing the MRI will show he has a strained ligament, but nothing more severe than that. Just a guess, though. And if that’s the injury, it could linger all season until he gets a long rest in the winter.)

There will surely be a lot of epic matchups between Heyward and Strasburg later this season and for years to come, as arguably the two highest-profile rookies to come along play on teams that will face each other 18-19 times a season.

But for tonight, the Braves will face the …

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