Archive for September, 2010

Workhorse Venters says fatigue no issue

Only one major league reliever has worked more innings than left-hander Jonny Venters since Venters’ major league debut on April 17, but the Braves’ workhorse rookie said Monday that fatigue has not been a factor down the stretch.

“Physically, I feel fine,” said Venters, who issued three walks in 1-1/3 innings during two appearances Saturday and Sunday at Washington. “My mechanics have been a little messed up lately. Just got to get locked back in.

“[Sunday] and a couple of other times I’ve been out there thinking about my mechanics instead of making a quality pitch. That’s never good.”

Colorado veteran Matt Belisle’s 83 innings in 68 appearances since April 17 was the only workload greater than Venters handled in that stretch, and Venters’ 1.80 ERA was a run lower than Belisle’s in that period.

Among National League relievers, Venters ranked fifth in lowest ERA (1.80) and seventh in lowest opponents’ average (.197) before Monday.

During a stretch of 68 Braves games from May …

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Hudson replaces Jurrjens on short rest Tuesday

With pitcher Jair Jurrjens still hampered by a sore knee and the Braves fighting for a playoff spot, veterans Tim Hudson and Derek Lowe will move up a day to pitch on short rest Tuesday and Wednesday.

Hudson will start Tuesday and Lowe on Wednesday in the last two games of a three-game series against the Florida Marlins at Turner Field, with Jurrjens hoping to return for Friday’s series opener against Philadelphia.

Jurrjens, diagnosed last week with a slight meniscus tear in his right knee, will miss his third consecutive start. He was examined again Monday and given a “dose pack” of anti-inflammatory pills.

The right-hander said if he’s not better in a couple more days, he might have another MRI to see if there’s a damaged tendon in addition to the meniscus tear.

“It’s really frustrating, especially now, with the team trying to accomplish we’ve been working for since spring training,” said Jurrjens, who has been slowed much of the season by a series of injuries. “It’s just …

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Hudson faces Marlins’ similarly slumping Sanchez

Who: vs. Marlins

When: 7:10 p.m. Tuesday

TV; radio: SPSO; 680 AM, 100.5 FM

Tuesday’s matchup: Braves RH Tim Hudson (16-9, 2.80 ERA) vs. RH Anibal Sanchez (12-11, 3.60 ERA)

– Hudson moves up to start on short rest in place of injured Jair Jurrjens (knee). Hudson is 1-4 with a 6.10 ERA in his past five starts. He’s 9-3 with a 2.81 ERA in 18 starts against Florida, including 1-1 with a 2.84 ERA in three this season. Dan Uggla is 14-for-40 with two homers against him.

– Sanchez is 1-3 with a 6.95 ERA in his past four starts. He’s 4-6 with a 4.50 ERA in 12 starts against the Braves, including 1-1 with a 3.93 ERA in three this season. Brian McCann is 9-for-25 with a homer against him.

* DAVID O’BRIEN

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Braves must finish strong, or they’re finished

If the Braves believe they respond best with backs against the wall and after a lot of observers have written them off, well, they’ll certainly get a chance to prove it this week, won’t they?

If the Braves don't snap out of funk this week, Bobby Cox is going to be saying farewell sooner than they planned. Their postseason hopes rest on final six games.

If the Braves don't snap out of funk this week, Bobby Cox is going to be saying farewell sooner than they planned. Their postseason hopes rest on final six games.

Six games left in Bobby Cox’s final season as manager, and the Braves have played themselves into this tight spot: a half-game behind wild-card leader San Diego for what will be the last available spot in the NL postseason.

I wrote before the Phillies series finale that I still thought the Braves would win the wild card. Losing those first two games to Hamels and Halladay with rookies Beachy and Minor pitching for the Braves, to me just playing the Phillies close in both of those games was an encouraging sign.

Losing the finale, with Hanson pitching a gem but Oswalt even better, did not change my opinion that the Braves were …

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First person Cox tribute: former Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez

Former Marlins manager and Braves third base coach Fredi Gonzalez on retiring Braves manager Bobby Cox:

“I always came out during media time on the road. He was always out there watching the other team’s bp, so I’d always go out there with him and talk. Smoke a cigar. When the media came around, I usually just hung out and heard what he had to say or what they were asking him about. It was either my first year or second when Kelly Johnson (was struggling) and Bobby told the media he reminded him of Stan Musial. I almost

Gonzalez (left) and Cox sharing a laugh

Gonzalez (left) and Cox sharing a laugh

spilled the coffee I had. Stan Musial, skipper? He was bad, like he’d never swung a bat in his life. Then all of a sudden it was like he was hitting off a tee. Whether Kelly read it or one of the writers went over and said ‘Bobby’s got a lot of confidence in you, he reminds him of Stan Musial’ or it was just pure coincidence. He went on to win player of the week; he just went completely off. You couldn’t get him out. The …

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Stat of the Day: 8-10 vs. Nationals

The Nationals best the Braves 4-2 Sunday to take the season series from Atlanta 10-8. The Braves dropped two out of three in this weekend series to lose their third series in three trips to Nationals Park this season. The Braves won two of the three series against the Nationals played at Turner Field this year.

The Braves fell to 23-31 in Washington (including games at RFK Stadium) and 10-17 at Nationals Park.

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Braves postgame quotes following 4-2 loss to Nats

BRIAN MCCANN

On the trip:

“We’re losing games. I feel like we’ve just got to keep playing. We’ve got six games. We’ve got to turn the intensity up. We’ve got to make every at-bat count.”

On Brandon Beachy:

“After the first couple innings he started locating a lot better. He’s got a great arm; he’s got an idea what he wants to do, he’s stepping up big for us. He’s come in and given us a chance to win both times he’s pitched. You can’t ask for anything more than what he’s done.”

On the seventh-inning walks:

“It was just one of those innings that snowballed on us. It just snowballed. One thing after another.”

On the 4-5 trip:

“We’re ready to get home. We’ve got six games to make this thing happen. We’ll see what we’re made of….We’ve got to just find a way, find a way to play better. Find a way to do the little things and find a way to win.”

JONNY VENTERS

On his outing:

“Came in walked Nyjer on four straight pitches, which was terrible. I wasn’t even close. Fell behind to Desmond, …

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Cox honored with flag from U.S. Capitol

Washington – The Nationals honored retiring manager Bobby Cox in what might have been the final road game of his career by presenting him with a framed American flag that had flown over the U.S. Capitol building earlier this month.

Cox was joined in a pre-game ceremony by Braves chairman Bill Bartholomay, former Braves president and current president of the Nationals Stan Kasten, Nationals owner Mark Lerner, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo and Nationals manager Jim Riggleman.

They stayed on the field for a video tribute and a serenade by a Navy band.

“That was outstanding,” Cox said. “I never expected anything like that. Probably don’t deserve it, but I’m honored that they did it.”

After the game he was greeted by Nationals catcher Ivan Rodriguez, who went over to shake hands with Cox while the rest of his teammates were celebrating their win.

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Next for Braves: Hanson vs. Sanabia on Monday

Series preview: vs Marlins

When (TV): 7:10 p.m. Monday (SPSO); 7:10 p.m. Tuesday (SPSO); 4:35 p.m. Wednesday (SPSO).

Radio: 680 AM, 100.5 FM

Probable starting pitchers:

Monday: RH Tommy Hanson (10-11, 3.51) vs. RH Alex Sanabia (5-3, 3.99)

Tuesday: TBA vs. RH Anibal Sanchez (12-11, 3.60)

Wednesday: TBA vs. LH Andrew Miller (1-4, 8.19)

Monday’s matchup:

• Hanson pitched six scoreless shutout innings in a gutsy no-decision against the Phillies his last start. He’s won only three of his past 16 starts despite a 2.61 ERA since July 3. He’s 2-1 with a 2.25 ERA in five starts in September.

• The Braves face rookie Sanabia for the third time this year. They’ve scored six runs in 9 1/3 innings against him but haven’t beaten him. The Braves scored five runs in five innings against him Sept. 5 at Florida but still lost 7-6 in extra innings.

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Shoulder soreness continues to plague Saito

Washington – Reliever Takashi Saito had hoped to throw a bullpen session before the Braves left Washington on Sunday. But that was nixed after he felt pain in his pitching shoulder simply playing catch on Saturday.

Saito, 40, has tendinitis in his throwing shoulder. An MRI last week revealed no structural damage, but with only six games left in the season, his chances of returning to the mound this season – and maybe for his career – are growing dimmer.

He’s already received a cortisone shot.

“I’m starting to think I should just stop saying it hurts,” Saito said Sunday through his interpreter. “I’m thinking about taking the word ‘pain’ out of my mind. I’ll throw from the side or underneath if I have to.”

The Braves aren’t going to rush him back either, with rookie Craig Kimbrel pitching as well as he is in Saito’s absence. Entering Sunday, Kimbrel had pitched 3 2/3 scoreless innings in four relief appearances since Saito had to leave a game Sept. 17 in New York. Kimbrel was …

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