Archive for October, 2010

Glaus gets first start at third base of the 2010 season

Troy Glaus made his first start of the season at third base in what could have been the Braves final game of the year.

He was pressed into emergency duty for Game 4 Monday night, after Brooks Conrad committed three errors in Game 3 and manager Bobby Cox had little choice but to pencil Glaus in at third base and move Omar Infante to second.

Glaus had played third base for the first 12 years of his career but this season he’d played only four innings – two as a defensive replacement on Sept. 8 at Pittsburgh and two in extra innings on Friday night in Game 2 in San Francisco after entering the game in a double-switch.

Glaus was signed to play first base and played first for the first 4 ½ months of the season before offensive struggles and injuries to his knees and ankles prompted the Braves to trade for first baseman Derrek Lee.

“He has played third,” said Cox, whose only other options were Eric Hinske who hasn’t played third base all season or rookie Diory Hernandez, …

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Rough time to be Brooks Conrad, a good dude

The cruel irony about Brooks Conrad is that, seven months ago down at spring training, some of us were doing stories about Conrad’s unexpected defensive improvement. Seriously, he made more spectacular defensive plays at multiple positions than any Brave in Grapefruit League games.

Error-plagued Conrad has been benched for tonight, but Braves wouldn't be in the postseason without him.

Error-plagued Conrad has been benched for tonight, but Braves wouldn't be in the postseason without him.

He’d been a fairly mediocre defensive player in the past, in nearly a decade spent exclusively in the minor leagues, and then during his first stints in the majors with Oakland in 2008 and Atlanta in 2009. But suddenly Conrad was flashing extreme leather, making highlight-reel plays at spring training, battling with Joe Thurston for the last bench job on the major league roster.

Now here we are, in the Braves’ first postseason in five years, and Conrad’s fielding ability has abandoned him at some of the worst possible moments, on the big stage, for a team that has to take advantage of its …

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Conrad out of lineup, Glaus at third base – updated

Three errors in one game for Brooks Conrad made Braves manager Bobby Cox’s decision pretty simple, but not easy.

He sat the struggling second baseman down for Game 4 Monday, even though it meant turning to Troy Glaus at third base, where he’s played only four major league innings this year. Cox moved Omar Infante from third base to second.

“I talked to Brooksy at length this morning and he needs a day off,” Cox said. “He needs to get away from it for a day. And I told him to hold his head high and maybe pinch hit and win a game for us.”

Conrad endured a Bill Buckner-like night Sunday, misplaying two ground balls and a pop-up that cost the Braves two runs in a 3-2 loss. The last straw came in the ninth inning when he allowed a one-hop grounder from Buster Posey to slip untouched through his legs as the winning run scored.

Not surprisingly, Conrad did some tossing and turning Sunday night.

“I didn’t sleep a whole lot,” he said before Monday’s game. “But the …

Continue reading Conrad out of lineup, Glaus at third base – updated »

Next for Braves: Lowe vs. Bumgarner in NLDS Game 4, 7:37 p.m.

Game 4 vs Giants

Probable starters: RH Derek Lowe (16-12, 4.00) vs. LH Madison Bumgarner (7-6, 3.00)

Monday’s matchup:

• Lowe lost to Tim Lincecum 1-0 in Game 1 in San Francisco, while allowing only one run in 5 1/3 innings. He allowed four hits, including a run-scoring single Omar Infante should have at least been knocked down at third. Lowe makes his second start in his last three on three days’ rest. He held the Marlins to one run in 5 2/3 innings in a 5-1 win Sept. 29 on three days’ rest. The last time he pitched in the postseason on three days’ rest was Game 4 of the 2008 NLCS with LA. He gave up two earned runs in five innings in a no-decision in a 7-5 loss to the Phillies. He went 2-0 with a 2.38 ERA in two regular season starts against the Giants.

• After winning Game 3 Sunday night, Giants manager Bruce Bochy elected to go with the rookie left-hander in Game 4 rather than Lincecum on three days’ rest. The Braves have never faced Bumgarner, which is a …

Continue reading Next for Braves: Lowe vs. Bumgarner in NLDS Game 4, 7:37 p.m. »

Braves’ quotes after Sunday loss to Giants

BOBBY COX

What do you say to Conrad at this point?

“Not much. Everybody’s talked to him. We’ve encouraged him as much as we can.”

Will Brooks play tomorrow?

“I’ll have to sleep on it.”

With the lead, was there any thought of taking Brooks out for defensive purposes?

“No, we were down to player on the bench with Hernandez, one position guy, and we didn’t want to use Ross.

“To answer your [earlier] question on the lefty [Huff], if hits a double or a homer off Kimbrel, then you’re asking why we didn’t bring in the lefty. We don’t have Wagner. We don’t have O’Flaherty.”

Going forward, is that how it’s going to be in the ninth, alternating according to matchups?

“I have no clue. We’re playing it by ear the whole way. And we’re trying to win the game. We’re not trying to lose these games. We’re trying to win them.”

Heyward crashes into the wall and goes down, [McCann] trips on the bat and you don’t know if he’s OK … do you ever just feel like you’re going to run out of players and …

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Wagner says Kimbrel looks ready for closer role

With Billy Wagner injured, the Braves could turn to rookie fireballer Craig Kimbrel as their primary closer.

Wagner, for one, believes the 22-year-old Alabaman is ready to handle the role, even in postseason pressure.

“The hardest person to hit is somebody who gets a lot of swings and misses,” Wagner said, and that description certainly fit Kimbrel.

A baby-faced strikeout machine with a 96-97 mph fastball, Kimbrel had five strikeouts in 2-2/3 perfect innings during the first two games of the National League Division Series against San Francisco.

During the regular season, he had a 0.44 ERA and .125 opponents’ average in 21 big-league appearances, with a whopping 40 strikeouts in 20-1/3 innings.

In the Braves’ 5-4, 11-inning win Friday in Game 2, Kimbrel struck out four batters while pitching perfect eighth and ninth innings at San Francisco, in front of the largest crowed ever at AT&T Park.

“From what he’s showing right now, he’s probably mentally ready to be in that closer’s …

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Lowe ready for Game 4 on three days’ rest

Derek Lowe is a high energy guy to begin with. So when he feels the postseason adrenaline kick in – he’s ready for anything. A start in Game 4 for the Braves on three days’ rest? Just part of the program for the veteran of 22 postseason games, including 11 starts with the Braves, Dodgers, and Red Sox.

He’s been lobbying manager Bobby Cox since before he made his Game 1 start in San Francisco to come back in Game 4. Monday night he gets his wish.

“This time of year, adrenaline kicks in,” Lowe said. “You can pitch. I’ll make myself available for Game 5, if there’s one.”

With closer Billy Wagner (oblique) out this series and the next if the Braves advance, Lowe is ready to relieve too. He has his share of experience with that too.

“Especially with Billy going down, I can get my 86th save,” said Lowe, the former closer for the Red Sox.

This is a guy who pitched the biggest game of his life on two days’ rest: Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS for the Red Sox against …

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Wagner’s out for NLDS, and potential NLCS, now hoping for World Series shot – updated

After two pain-numbing shots Sunday morning didn’t help matters, Braves closer Billy Wagner conceded Sunday he wouldn’t be able to pitch this round or the next.

The Braves substituted reliever Takashi Saito on the roster for him for the rest of the division series. By rule, Wagner won’t be eligible to pitch in the National League Championship Series. But his strained left oblique wasn’t going to let him anyway.

Wagner, 39 and fifth all-time on the career saves list (422), is left to wonder if he’s pitched the last game of his 16-year-career. He had delayed retirement one more year for a shot at his first trip to the World Series. Now it will take that from the Braves to give him a chance to even get back out on the mound.

“Depends on my teammates now,” Wagner said in a press conference before Sunday’s game. “…In a week, couple days, maybe it’s different. So we’ll just keep pushing along and see what happens, and hopefully I’ll get lucky.”

Either …

Continue reading Wagner’s out for NLDS, and potential NLCS, now hoping for World Series shot – updated »

Braves have able young replacement for Wagner

If someone said in April the Braves would lose both closer Billy Wagner and backup closer Takashi Saito to injuries, I think most of us would’ve thought that meant serious problems come the ninth inning of a close, crucial game.

Who knew this kid would be ready this quickly? Kimbrel's put up jaw-dropping numbers since he got to the majors.

Who knew this kid would be ready this quickly? Kimbrel's put up jaw-dropping numbers since he got to the majors.

But that’s because we could never have expected Craig Kimbrel to be this good. Or Jonny Venters, for that matter.

Bit the kids have been more than alright, and I’m here to say that the Braves, if they’ve lost Wagner for the rest of the division series (surely they have, even if it’s not official yet), and if Saito’s not ready to pitch in consecutive games, or pitch at all, are still going to be OK at closer.

Kimbrel’s been that good.

For me, he passed the last test, erased the last concern, when he struck out four batters while pitching perfect eighth and ninth innings of Friday’s Game 2 division-series win at San Francisco, before …

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Next for Braves: Hudson vs. Sanchez in Game 3

Game 3 vs Giants

Probable starters: RH Tim Hudson (17-9, 2.83) vs. LH Jonathan Sanchez (13-9, 3.07)

Sunday’s matchup:

• Hudson won each of his last two starts in must-win situations for the Braves, including his win over the Phillies on the last day of the season a week ago. He allowed only two hits that day, but both were two-run homers in a game the Braves held on to win 8-7. He’s working on six day’s rest. Hudson went 1-0 with a 1.20 ERA in two starts against the Giants in the regular season. He pitched eight scoreless innings in a win Aug. 7 at Turner Field. He gave up two runs in seven innings in a no-decision April 9 at AT&T Park. Hudson is 11-5 with a 2.48 ERA at Turner Field this season. Aaron Rowand is 8-for-21 (.381) against him.

• Sanchez pitched the NL West clincher over the Padres Sunday with five shutout innings. He’s been one of the Giants’ hottest pitchers coming down the stretch, going 6-3 with a 2.27 ERA since Aug. 1. Sanchez is 1-3 with a …

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