Archive for July, 2010

Braves option McLouth to Triple-A Gwinnett, activate Clevlen – updated

Washington – After five games of watching Nate McLouth continue to scuffle, the Braves optioned the center fielder to Triple-A Gwinnett on Tuesday, hoping time away from the pressures of a pennant race will help him get straight.

The Braves activated outfielder Brent Clevlen from a rehabilitation assignment, and he was scheduled to arrive in Washington during Tuesday night’s game.

McLouth had managed only one hit in 15 at-bats in his return from the disabled list, and that hit was a broken bat single. He grounded into an inning-ending bases-loaded double play in the 11th inning Sunday in Florida in one of his few hard hit balls.

“We hoped during the DL stint it would be long enough for him to get consistent at-bats and get in a groove,” said Braves general manager Frank Wren, who met with McLouth along with manager Bobby Cox about 4 p.m. Tuesday.

“At the time it did appear he was making good progress,” Wren continued. “But it kind of felt like he reverted back when he got back …

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Ross agrees to $3.25M extension with Braves – updated

Giving an idea how they feel about backup catcher David Ross, the Braves reached agreement with him Tuesday on a two-year $3.25 million contract extension that keeps him a Brave through 2012.

The 33-year-old Ross has become a valuable member of the Braves bench and a leader in the Braves clubhouse as the backup to five-time National League All-Star Brian McCann.

“Just seeing how what an integral part our bench is…,” Braves general manager Frank Wren said. “Not only is he a top notch backup, he’s one of the very best, but he’s also a big part of our team, our team chemistry and that group of guys on our bench that have strong leadership capabilities and guys rally around.”

Wren said the two sides first expressed mutual interest last month. Once they started talking specifics, the deal was done in less than a week. The extension will pay Ross $1.625 million each of the next two seasons, 2011 and 2012.

“When you’re a role player, an extension in the middle of the year is kind of …

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Braves only thought they were facing Strasburg a second time

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

(Please note: Stephen Strasburg was scratched from his start Tuesday night against the Braves with shoulder stiffness in a move that was announced just five minutes before the start of the game.

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said Strasburg had trouble getting loose in the bullpen prior to the game, and he made the decision to scratch him as a precautionary measure. Strasburg had told pitching coach Steve McCatty after about 5-7 warm-up pitches he was feeling stiff.

An MRI taken on Strasburg during the game revealed no structural damage. He was diagnosed with shoulder inflammation and is considered day-to-day.

Long reliever Miguel Batista made the start in Strasburg’s place. He pitched five shutout innings in a 3-0 win over the Braves.

Washington – So some friends of mine thought I was nuts for not going out to see Stephen Strasburg his first night pitching against the Braves in Atlanta. Ah, but …

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Next for Braves: Strasburg and the Nats

Series preview: at Nationals

When (TV): 7:05 p.m. Tuesday (SPSO); 7:05 p.m. Wednesday (SPSO); 12:35 p.m. Thursday (SPSO)

Radio: 680 AM, 100.5 FM

Probable starting pitchers:

Tuesday: Braves RH Tommy Hanson (8-6, 4.12 ERA) vs. RH Stephen Strasburg (5-2, 2.32 ERA)

Wednesday: Braves RH Tim Hudson (10-5, 2.47 ERA) vs. RH Livan Hernandez (7-6, 3.12 ERA)

Thursday: Braves RH Derek Lowe (10-8, 4.48 ERA) vs. RH Craig Stammen (2-4, 5.50 ERA)

Tuesday’s matchup:

• Hanson is 1-1 with a 2.66 ERA in July after ending June with back-to-back poor outings (14 earned runs in 7 1/3 innings). He held the Padres to two runs in 6 1/3 innings Wednesday. He’s 2-0 with a 2.94 ERA in five starts against the Nationals.

• The Braves face Strasburg for the second time, after handing him a 5-0 loss at on June 28. The four runs (three earned) he allowed to the Braves were the most in his nine major league starts. He’s 3-0 with a 2.38 ERA in four starts since.

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Stat of the Day: Bases-loaded futility

The Braves loaded the bases four times on Sunday with less than two outs and came away with only one run in a 5-4 loss.

First inning:

Alex Gonzalez popped out to short, Brooks Conrad struck out

Sixth inning:

Melky Cabrera sacrifice fly to center, Jair Jurrjens flyout to center

Seventh inning:

Troy Glaus grounds into 5-4-3 double play.

11th inning:

Nate McLouth hits into 6-4-3 double play.

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Postgame comments following Sunday’s loss to Marlins

BOBBY COX

On McLouth’s double play:

“The last one was absolutely a bullet. Nate couldn’t have hit the ball any better, a Screaming Mimi that was right at (Hanley) Ramirez. He hits it softly, they can’t turn it. He hit a bullet.”

On Jurrjens:

“JJ pitched a heck of a game. The four runs in that inning were just stupid runs. A dribbler up the middle, a dribbler to the right side, a hit-and-run dribbler and one ball hit good – (Wes) Helms. That was it, four runs. I thought he was outstanding. Just a shame that we lose that game.”

CHIPPER JONES

On thwarted bases-loaded chances:

“That was the story. We left a ton of guys on hitting into double plays. We had a chance to really bury them there in the first inning popped up and couple double plays late. We should have never been in the extra-inning situation (if) we take advantage of our opportunities, which we’ve been really good at doing for the most part of the year. Just didn’t happen today for whatever reason. You let the other …

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Pinch-hit history for Brooks Conrad

Brooks Conrad did more than win the game for the Braves Saturday night against the Marlins with his pinch-hit grand slam, he claimed a piece of history.

The 30-year-old rookie became only the fifth player in major league history to hit two pinch-hit grand slams in a season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Conrad’s pinch-hit walk-off grand slam May 20 at Turner Field to beat the Reds by a run 10-9 might be the most memorable moment in a resurgent season for the Braves. But the one he hit Saturday night to break a 5-5 tie in the final at-bat of a put him in special company.

“(Strength coach) Phil Falco looked it up right after the game, that I tied the record,” Conrad said. “That’s pretty cool….For me, getting my chance later than most people, you’re just looking for a chance to get up here and play in the big leagues. Then all of a sudden you do a couple things like this, it’s pretty cool.”

He is the first Brave to do it, joining Davey Johnson (1978) of the Phillies, Mike …

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Struggling McLouth sits

Braves manager Bobby Cox sat a struggling Nate McLouth Sunday afternoon, even against right-hander Chris Volstad. McLouth has failed to produce in his return from the disabled list and done little to show the Braves he’s the answer for center field down the stretch. They have been keeping a close eye on them as they determine who to go after at the July 31 trading deadline.

McLouth went 1-for-13 in his first four games back from the disabled list (concussion). His sole hit was a broken-bat single on Wednesday against the Padres. He has no RBIs while gone 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position in the first two games of the Florida series, including a groundout with the bases loaded and one out in the eighth inning on Saturday night. He’s hitting only .169 on the season.

When asked about it Sunday morning, Braves manager Bobby Cox chose to put the emphasis on getting Melky Cabrera some work.

“Cabby was hitting good,” Cox said. “I don’t want to lose him at the same time we’re …

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Heyward heating back up

Miami – Quietly, perhaps, compared to Brooks Conrad’s pinch hit grand slam Saturday night, Jason Heyward was an offensive force. He reached base five times via three singles and two walks and continued solid work he’s done since returning from the disabled list.

Entering Sunday’s series finale with the Marlins, he had an eight-game hitting streak, going 15-for-30 (.500), including five games in a row with at least two hits. He had hit safely in all but one game since returning from the disabled list the day after the All-Star break July 15. He singled in the seventh inning Sunday to extend his hitting streak to nine games.

Heyward concedes that the deep bruise in his left thumb is something he’ll likely have to contend with for the rest of the season. But it’s clear he’s seen improvement from the six weeks he struggled in May and June.

“It’s good enough for me to be consistent,” Heyward said. “I don’t have the pain that I had in it. I’m able to bend it a little further than I …

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McLouth, Jones out of lineup, Braves go for series vs. Marlins

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

Miami – So welcome to the rubber match today, oh wait, rubber game, of the Marlins-Braves series where we will surely see something crazy, given the results of the first two games in this series.

I never really thought of this place as a big hitter’s park but after the last two nights here, I’m changing my tune. As Bobby Cox explained….

“It’s like pulling teeth for both teams, trying to get a win,” he said. “It’s hard. The ball goes pretty good here, No. 1 and it’s a pretty fast infield and it’s a pretty good hitters’ ballpark. Both teams have pretty dang good hitting and they can come back.”

I know the left field fence looks short and inviting, there’s that nook in left center field that can send balls all over the plate at funny angles for extra bases and judging by where Dan Uggla had Brian McCann played at one point last night – shallow left field – I gather the infield is fast.

So what’s in store …

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