Archive for October, 2010

Larry Parrish hired as Braves hitting coach (updated)

As a Florida teen, Larry Parrish revered Hank Aaron, Rico Carty and other Braves after the team moved to Atlanta in 1966. Now, he’ll work with the team’s next potential superstar, Jason Heyward, and the rest of the Braves after being hired as Atlanta’s new hitting coach.

Parrish, a former Texas and Montreal slugger, was hired Friday to round out new Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez’s coaching staff for the 2011 season.

Parrish, 56, replaces Terry Pendleton, who was reassigned to first-base coach and infield instructor after Gonzalez was named to succeed retired Braves manager Bobby Cox.

“Larry has a great reputation in the game,” said Gonzalez, who has known Parrish since managing against him in the International League, where Parrish managed the Detroit Tigers’ Triple-A affiliate since 2003. “His background speaks for itself. This is good staff of hard-working baseball people.”

Parrish joins a staff that includes three other holdovers from manager Cox’s staff – …

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Presley’s a candidate for Braves hitting coach job

Jim Presley is a finalist to become the next hitting coach of the Braves, who are expected to interview one or two more candidates before making a decision.

New Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez had Presley as his hitting coach for 3-1/2 seasons with the Florida Marlins, who fired those two and bench coach Carlos Tosca on June 23.

Tosca will rejoin Gonzalez in Atlanta as bench coach, joining four holdover coaches from former manager Bobby Cox’s staff: pitching coach Roger McDowell, third-base coach Brian Snitker, bullpen coach Eddie Perez, and Terry Pendleton.

Pendleton was switched from hitting coach to first-base coach in place of Glenn Hubbard, who was dropped from the Braves staff along with bench coach Chino Cadahia.

Presley, 49, played eight seasons in the majors including 1990 with Atlanta, when he started 133 games at third base. Coincidentally, Pendleton took over at third base in 1991, the year Pendleton won the National League MVP award and helped lead the Braves from …

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Freeman’s thumb injury shuts him down in Arizona

Freddie Freeman’s thumb injury will keep the Braves first-base prospect out for the remainder of the Arizona Fall League.

After Braves hand specialist Dr. Gary Lourie examined his sprained left thumb on Monday in Atlanta, the decision was made to pull Freeman from the fall league and have him return home to California to rest.

Freeman, injured while sliding into third base in an Oct. 18 game, will wear a splint for the next couple of weeks and return to Atlanta in about three weeks to begin rehabilitation.

An MRI last week showed no major ligament damage, and surgery was not necessary. However, any thumb sprain can linger for an extended period if not given time to heal.

Rather than having Freeman try to return for the final weeks of the AFL, which runs through Nov. 20, the Braves will have him aim for what they believe should be a full recovery before spring training begins in February.

The Braves are planning on the left-handed slugger to be their starting first …

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Hudson named NL comeback player of year

Braves pitcher Tim Hudson was honored as the National League’s comeback player of the year by the Players Choice Awards. The veteran right-hander went 17-9 with a 2.83 ERA in 34 starts, after missing all but the final month of the 2009 season recovering from ligament-transplant elbow surgery.

Hudson also won the NL comeback player award from MLB.com earlier this month.

Texas Rangers designated hitter Vladimir Guerrero was the Players Choice winner for American League comeback player. He hit .300 with 29 homers and 115 RBIs for the Rangers, who’ll face San Francisco in the World Series beginning Wednesday.

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Francoeur in World Series, Chipper’s rehab update, etc.

A few loose and semi-cohesive thoughts while wondering what it means that Jeff Francoeur will be the first of the so-called “Baby Braves” – nickname we always abhorred – to play in a World Series.

We’ve got a little news on Chipper Jones and Freddie Freeman, but first….

Yes, the ex-Braves right fielder from Parkview High is going to the Fall Classic with the Texas Rangers, where Francoeur will become the first of the 18 rookies from the 2005 Braves to play in a World Series.

The other rookies from that ‘05 team: Brian McCann, Kelly Johnson, Ryan Langerhans, Wilson Betemit, Pete Orr, Brayan Pena, Andy Marte, Kyle Davies, Roman Colon, Blaine Boyer, Macay McBride, Anthony Lerew, Chuck James, Joey Devine, Jorge Vasquez, Matt Childers and Frank Brooks.

There wasn't a full-time right fielder in the majors with a lower OPS than Jeff Francoeur in 2010, but he's headed to the World Series, something than no other member of the 2005 "Baby Braves" has done.

There wasn't a full-time right fielder in the majors with a lower OPS than Jeff Francoeur in 2010, but he's headed to the World Series, something than no other member of the 2005 "Baby Braves" has done.

(For those who might be …

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Jurrjens has knee ’scoped, should be ready for spring

Braves pitcher Jair Jurrjens had arthroscopic knee surgery for a lateral meniscus tear in his right knee, and the team said he should be ready when spring training begins in February.

A series of injuries – shoulder, thumb, hamstring and knee – limited Jurrjens to 20 starts in 2010, and he finished with a 7-6 record and 4.64 ERA. That was more than two runs higher than his ERA in 2009, when he went 14-10 in 34 starts.

His 2.60 ERA in 2009 was the third-lowest among National League starting pitchers.

Jurrjens reported to 2010 spring training with a sore shoulder after making an awkward throw during a pickup game in his native Curacao a week earlier. That put him behind other pitchers during camp, and a jammed thumb also slowed him during the spring.

He missed two months before the All-Star break with a strained left hamstring that he reinjured just before he was to return from the disabled list.

Jurrjens hurt his knee during a Sept. 17 bullpen session between …

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Braves release Saito, Cabrera

The Braves released underperforming outfielder Melky Cabrera and 40-year-old reliever Takashi Saito, not wasting any time making a couple of offseason moves that had been expected.

Saito was a key member of the Braves’ strong bullpen, posting 2.83 ERA with 69 strikeouts in 54 innings after signing a one-year contract last winter. The Japanese veteran missed most of the final month of the season with recurring shoulder soreness, but has said he might continue pitching.

Although he doesn’t have the six years of major league service normally required for free agency, his contract stipulated that Saito be released after the 2010 season, Braves general manager Frank Wren said.

The Braves signed Saito to be their primary setup man and backup closer to Billy Wagner. Saito was used almost exclusively as a setup man, and manager Bobby Cox adjusted his pitching pattern at midseason to give him more rest between appearances after Saito had shoulder soreness before the All-Star …

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MRI shows Freeman thumb injury not serious (updated)

The Braves got good news on Freddie Freeman’s left thumb when an MRI exam Wednesday showed a sprain and contusion but no serious injury to the ligament.

Freeman hurt the thumb Monday during an Arizona Fall League game. The initial diagnosis was a sprain, but X-rays taken Tuesday were inconclusive and the Braves scheduled an MRI on Wednesday in Phoenix to rule out any major injury.

General manager Frank Wren said Freeman would miss at least a week while the swelling subsides.

The slugger was hurt sliding into third base on a triple for the Phoenix Desert Dogs. Through five AFL games, Freeman was 2-for-16 (.125) with a double, a triple and one RBI.

The Braves are planning on the left-handed slugger to be their regular first baseman in 2011. Freeman hit .319 with 35 doubles, 18 home runs and 87 RBIs in 124 games during the 2010 season for Triple-A Gwinnett, and posted a robust .898 on-base-plus-slugging percentage.

The International League rookie of the year, Freeman got his …

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Braves tired of planning while others play for pennant

When GM Frank Wren, manager Fredi Gonzalez and the rest of the Braves’ brass and top scouts gather this week outside Orlando, they will do what Braves officials have gotten too used to doing at this time of year for the past  decade: Begin putting together a sweeping plan to tweak or revamp last year’s team into a serious playoff contender while operating within what’s become a fairly tight budget.

Oh, and doing it while watching other teams play for the pennant. Ouch.

Yes, Braves officials will watch the NLCS games at night while gathered in a large meeting room at their hotel in downtown Celebration, Fla. The Braves themselves were last in an NLCS in 2001, and Wren said they’d obviously prefer to put off future annual organizational meetings in Florida a few weeks while occupied with the postseason.

Think about that: It will have been a decade since they last made it to the league championship series when Gonzalez tries to guide Braves back there in his first season at the …

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Braves’ next priority: Improving punchless outfield

After hiring Fredi Gonzalez as their new manager, Braves officials can focus attention on improving a punchless outfield that ranked among the National League’s worst in 2010.

The starting rotation and bullpen are solid and the infield, including shortstop Alex Gonzalez and rookie first baseman Freddie Freeman, seems set. The outfield? It needs help.

“We’re going to have to be creative,” said Wren, who probably doesn’t have funds to get into the expected bidding wars for free-agent outfielders Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth. “We’re going to have to take a look at every possibility.”

Wren said the Braves are operating under the assumption that third baseman Chipper Jones — owed $28 million over the next two seasons — will make it back from knee surgery and join an infield with Gonzalez, Freeman and second baseman Martin Prado.

“I think that’s our likely, hopeful Opening Day lineup,” Wren said. “Once you get in discussions and once you start taking other things into …

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