Archive for October, 2010

Minor league pitcher was using a bogus name

Braves minor league pitcher Luis Valdez never made it from his native Dominican Republic to the U.S. for spring training, or at all last season, because of visa problems. Now we know why.

He was not who he said he was, Braves general manager Frank Wren said Thursday. Valdez’s actual given name, apparently, is Jairo Asencio. He originally signed under the name Valdez, declaring himself a few months older than he was, Wren said.

As Valdez, he had 27 saves for Triple-A Gwinnett in 2009. Asencio, 26, is still under the Braves control and is expected back in the minor league system.

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Injuries: Medlen headed for MRI on hip, Lee played with torn thumb ligament

Braves pitcher Kris Medlen was scheduled to have an MRI on his hip Thursday, Braves general manager Frank Wren said. Medlen missed the last two months of the season after undergoing ligament transplant surgery on his elbow. But Wren said he has had lingering hip pain from a start he made in Los Angeles in early June.

Medlen is not expected back from elbow surgery until August or September of next season at the earliest. He was 6-2 with a 3.68 ERA in 31 games last year for the Braves, including 14 starts.

Lee’s torn thumb ligament

First baseman Derrek Lee played the last two months of the season with a torn thumb ligament, Wren said. His thumb injury was reported by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in early September, but Lee did not want to acknowledge the injury or the extent of it. Wren said Thursday Lee first jammed his right thumb on Opening Day with the Cubs in Atlanta. It had improved when he was traded to the Braves on Aug. 18, but he tore it about a week later.

Lee …

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Braves drop Hubbard, switch Pendleton from hitting coach

Four members of the Braves coaching staff were retained including pitching coach Roger McDowell and Terry Pendleton, who was switched from hitting coach to first-base coach/ infield instructor in place of Glenn Hubbard.

Also back are third-base coach Brian Snitker and bullpen coach Eddie Perez.

Hubbard and bench coach Chino Cadahia were dropped and not offered other positions in the organization.

New manager Fredi Gonzalez brought former Toronto manager Carlos Tosca from Gonzalez’s Florida Marlins staff to serve as bench coach, and the Braves will hire a new hitting coach to replace Pendleton, who spent nine seasons in that role.

General manager Frank Wren indicated the Braves have discussed several hitting-coach candidates and could hire one during their organizational meetings that start next week.

“For me, the hardest thing was the first day when we got to talking about the coaching staff, because I have relationship with those guys and I respect them all,” said Gonzalez, …

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Video: Emotional scene after Cox’s final game

The AJC’s David O’Brien talks with CineSport’s Noah Coslov about the postgame locker room scene after Bobby Cox managed his final game.

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Saito unsure about his future

Reliever Takashi Saito, 40, feared several times this season that shoulder problems would end his career. Now that the season is over, and his shoulder is improving, he’s not sure. He’ll be a free agent.

“I don’t have a certain answer yet,” Saito said with a member of the Japanese media interpreting. “But I don’t have a definite feeling of ‘I’m quitting.’ I’m still thinking….I still believe I can pitch.”

Saito, who turns 41 in February, has played five seasons in the majors with the Braves, Red Sox and Dodgers. He appeared in 56 games this season for the Braves, putting up a 2.83 ERA with 69 strikeouts in 54 innings. He served as one of their primary set-up men until shoulder tendinitis cut his season short in September.

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Closing the book on Billy Wagner

Closers thrive on neat finishes. Three up, three down game over. So it was awkward Monday night when Billy Wagner’s career ended with the Braves’ ouster from the division series because it came with jagged edges.

The 39-year-old has been saying he’d retire all season. But he pictured it ending like the regular season did, with both his arms extended high on the mound, having just saved a clinching game.

Wagner fell short of his goal when he signed with the Braves last winter of reaching the World Series. He came three saves shy of passing John Franco for the most all-time by a left-hander. And he walked off the field for the last time Friday night in Game 2, hunched over with a strained oblique muscle.

But good closers also know how to move on.

“I’ve done everything that I can do,” said Wagner, who went 7-2 with a career-best 1.43 ERA and 37 saves this season. “I’ve got my kids at home that I need to raise more than I need to look at records and championships. …

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Jurrjens planning to undergo arthroscopic knee surgery

Jair Jurrjens plans to undergo arthroscopic surgery on his right knee to repair the minor meniscus tear he suffered three weeks ago.

Jurrjens said doctors have told him he could get by without it, and he said he’ll seek a second opinion before having the surgery, but he wants to go through with it regardless.

“I want to go ahead and do it and just come in with peace of mind next spring training,” Jurrjens said. “I don’t even want to think about it at all and be scared, ‘If I do this, it might flare up again.’”

He’s hoping to have surgery in the next couple of days or by next week at the latest, Jurrjens said. The recovery is expected to be short. He’ll stay in Atlanta for a couple of weeks to get familiar with his rehabilitation, then head to Tampa for a few weeks, then home to Curacao.

Jurrjens missed his final three starts of the regular season with the knee injury. He’d been pitching in the Braves’ instructional league in Florida, poised to rejoin the …

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Cox, Braves quotes after series-ending loss to Giants


On how it felt at end of game

“We played a really good ballgame. And Derek pitched great, I thought. And we got the ground balls, they were just out of reach.

“We wanted this game big-time, to get back to San Francisco. It just didn’t happen. The balls were just out of reach for us, turning double-plays.

“I’m proud of the team. I told them that a little while ago. They’ve come a long ways with this team. They played their hearts out, and I’ll miss them.”

The fans called for you while the Giants were out on the field, and then the Giants paid their respects. Can you describe that?

“That was nice of them. These fans have been great. They’ve packed this place just about the last five ballgames. And we appreciate their support. I do, and the players. I have all through my career here. They’ve been just absolutely great.”

How aware were you of the Giants’ players all saluting you?

“I saw them. And I gave them a thumbs-up, too. They played good, tough, and they had good …

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Cox meets with players in emotional post-game scene Monday

Just eight days earlier, the circle of lockers in the main section of the Braves clubhouse had been a champagne-soaked mess.

Braves players lathered in beer were dancing, jumping, screaming, even at one point toppling a table in celebration of clinching the National League wild card.

But when Braves players from the 2010 team think back to the moment they’ll remember most from the end of the season, the most poignant time spent in that locker room, chances are the room will look a lot different.

It’ll be brightly lit, clean, and completely quiet – the moment from Monday night, when each player was seated at his locker. The Braves had just lost 3-2 to the Giants to get knocked out of the playoffs in the division series, and Bobby Cox took the floor for the last time as their – or anyone’s – manager.

“I don’t think there was a guy in here who could swallow,” Braves outfielder Matt Diaz said. “We were holding [tears] back, and then he got choked up a little bit, …

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Slumping Heyward dropped to sixth in order

Jason Heyward is mired in a three-week slump that got him dropped to sixth in the Braves’ batting order Monday night for Game 4 of the division series.

The rookie right fielder was 9-for-64 (.140) with one extra-base hit, one RBI and 19 strikeouts in his past 17 games, including 0-for-12 with seven strikeouts in his first three postseason games.

Monday marked the first time that Heyward hit lower than third since May 5, when he batted sixth. Heyward hit second in 99 games during the regular season and third in 11 games.

“Just trying to switch the lineup to get some [offense],” manager Bobby Cox said before Monday’s game. “We got shut out in Game 1. Yesterday we were shut out until the eighth inning.”

The Braves hit .214 in their past 15 games, including a meager .165 with 37 strikeouts in the first three games of the best-of-five division series.

They lost 1-0 in the series opener and 3-2 in Game 3 on Sunday, when they had one hit through seven innings.

Facing elimination if …

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