Remember Jordan Schafer? CF is prepping for big return

ORLANDO — While Braves officials sip coffee at opening sessions of the Winter Meetings Monday morning at Disneyworld, a few miles away a Braves center fielder will already be well into a rigorous 6-hour-a-day, six-day-a-week workout regimen that he’s confident will help restart his stalled career.

Schafer hit a home run in his major league debut against the Phillies on Opening Day 2009.

Schafer hit a home run in his major league debut against the Phillies on Opening Day 2009.

If you don’t think 24-year-old Jordan Schafer can do it, if you’re among those who’ve written off the kid who pretty much owned 2009 Braves spring training and homered that opening day at Philadelphia in his big-league debut, he understands.

Really, he does.

At some frustrating points in the past year, Schafer himself wondered whether he’d regain the strength in his left wrist and hand, after bone-fusion surgery in September 2009 and dispiriting setbacks in the recovery.

“I had doubt in my mind going through the injury and everything that followed,” said Schafer, who has struggled mightily during most of two lost seasons since he broke a bone swinging a bat during the Braves’ 2009 home opener.

“But now that I’ve been able to swing for a month and half with no problems, and my weight and speed and all that are back and better, I’ve never felt this good going into spring training. I feel 100 percent confident going into spring training, that I can open a lot of people’s eyes and show what I can do.”

OK, he realizes that some of you are rolling your eyes right about now. The ones already tired of waiting for Schafer to rebound. Many doubt he can or will.

“If you’re a fan and you see a kid come up and do well and then struggle,” Schafer said, “then he gets sent down [demoted in the minors] and keeps struggling – well, I understand fans getting pissed and wanting to give up on [him].

“But at the same time, you have to understand I went through a lot with the injury and struggling to get back. Hopefully when I come back to spring training and show what I can do, people will be able to see I’m ready to go now.”

Promising start

Schafer won the opening-day center field job in 2009 after going to spring training as a non-roster invitee and putting on a show in workouts and especially in Grapefruit League games. He demonstrated a package of speed, power, aggressiveness and pure baseball instincts.

It really was something to behold. We all thought so – players, coaches, media members, Bobby Cox, all of us. At least one high-ranking Braves official said that on a lot of days that spring, he looked like the best player on the field.

He won the job over Gregor Blanco and Josh Anderson, the latter traded away late in spring when the Braves decided Schafer was their guy.

The 22-year-old opening-day starter homered against the Phillies in his first and third major league games. He drove in three runs in that opening series, and Schafer was 8-for-19 with four extra-base hits, three walks and six runs after his first five major league games.

But he also had a sore left hand, from a painful swing he took in his home debut, the fourth game of his career. Schafer would later say he heard a pop in his wrist that day, but he kept playing, told team officials he was good to go.

After working most of his life with a single-minded goal of reaching the majors, he wasn’t about to say that his hand hurt and he needed to rest. But he knows now that he should have.

After those first five games, Schafer hit .176 (26-for-148) with six doubles, no homers, five RBIs and 59 strikeouts in 148 at-bats over his next 45 games, through May 31, 2009.

He has not played in the major leagues since.

Shipped to Triple-A Gwinnett to heal and get his confidence back, Schafer rested briefly, but didn’t regain anything. Because the hand and wrist kept hurting during a few more aborted comeback attempts that season in Triple-A.

He played in nine games for Gwinnett in 2009, a few games here and there between DL stints and X-rays and MRIs, the last of which finally revealed the severity of his injury, a fracture that explained why Schafer had never felt right again after that “pop” or got past the pain with periods of rest.

It hadn’t been a ligament tear or other soft-tissue damage, as originally suspected. It was bone. In a difficult place to heal, especially for a baseball player whose approach to struggles had always been to work more intensely.

Schafe had surgery on Sept. 9, 2009, a procedure in which a patch of bone was used to fuse the fracture above his left wrist.

Braves head trainer Jeff Porter told him after the surgery that it would probably take a full year before he felt right and regained his strength in that hand and wrist.

After being cleared to hit again the following spring, he went into 2010 spring training hoping to regain his spot, but knowing that he might not be ready right away when the season began.

It's been three years of big ups and mighty big downs for Schafer, who said he now feels better -- physically and mentally -- than he has in a long time.

It's been three years of big ups and mighty big downs for Schafer, who said he now feels better -- physically and mentally -- than he has in a long time.

Schafer had been told there would be lingering discomfort as he increased his workload and began hitting each day, but he figured he could deal with that pain, as long as he wasn’t in danger of reinjuring the wrist.

The bone was healed. No problem there. But he’d underestimated the discomfort that he’d feel early in spring training when he started hitting again in consecutive days, even when just hitting off a tee or soft-tossed pitches.

Although Schafer had been told it’d take a year to get it back, that didn’t make the frustration and disappointment any easier to take when he realized during spring training that he still had a long way to go before he’d compete again for a major league job.

It was the beginning of another lost season, which started late and ended early because of lingering problems in the wrist. He played 76 games at three minor league levels and hit .201 with a .268 OBP and .255 slugging percentage.

That was a .524 OPS (and one homer) in 307 plate appearances in the minors, for the kid who’d homered on 2009 opening day to quiet a sellout crowd in Philly.

The low point last season? Being demoted from Triple-A to Double-A after the All-Star break, when the Braves hoped he could finish the season on a good note to help restore confidence going into the offseason.

Instead, he was shut down altogether in September and sent home to rest, after hitting .175 with no homers in 18 games at Double-A Mississippi.

Understanding what happened

“As far as the surgery, the injury itself was healed,” Schafer said. “But since I had been in a cast so long [before and after the September 2009 surgery], I had scar tissue around the nerve, and I couldn’t get strength in there.

“It was a mess for a year. If I’d do strengthening stuff, it’d be sore the next day. And if didn’t do strengthening exercises, I’d be too weak to swing. So basically it was a no-win situation.

Schafer did lower-body work in the weight room during last season, but couldn’t do much of anything to strengthen the hand while also trying to continue playing.

He said that changed soon after he reported to the Braves’ spring-training headquarters in Lake Buena Vista this past September, only about a half-hour from his dad’s house in Haines City.

Schafer left his Midtown Atlanta condo, packed a few bags and came to live with his dad for the offseason, so he could work out daily at the Braves’ Wide World of Sports facility. He’s spent the past three months working closely with Troy Jones, the Braves’ minor league physical therapist.

“I can’t describe to you how good he is,” Schafer said. “He’s unbelievably good. I rehabbed with him for about a month or more, and started getting healthy quick. Ever since then, I’ve been swinging now for two months, and been 100 percent fine….

“I remember when I had surgery, Porter told me it was going to be a year until I felt fine. I always told him I’d be OK in four or five months, I’d be fine. Sure enough, it took a whole year until I was able to swing every day and felt good. They were right the whole time.

“But I couldn’t just sit there and not do anything [last season]. I should have probably waited longer, but I felt like I had a shot, so OK, give it a shot.”

Eight months after feeling pain when he began hitting at spring training, Schafer said he felt entirely different this time when he re-started his hitting program in the same batting cage at the spring-training complex.

He’s been hitting twice a day in recent weeks and says it’s been without any pain in his hand and wrist. He hasn’t faced “live” pitching – full-on pitches from actual pitchers — but has taken thousands of swings in the cage, mostly off the tee or soft-tossed, and some batting practice at the University of Florida in Gainesville, off a neighbor friend who’s a Gators assistant coach.

Braves GM Frank Wren says the team "absolutely" still believes in Schafer.

Braves GM Frank Wren says the team "absolutely" still believes in Schafer.

Schafer also has been hitting plenty against the high-tech pitching machine that he bought five years ago with his signing-bonus money. He spends hours in the dusty warehouse in Haines City where the machine is set up, and Schafer confided that he has turned the thing up to its maximum 100-mph speed a few times to test his wrist. No problems, he said.

Between hitting sessions, Schafer has been lifting weights with more intensity than he’s had in the weight room for quite a while, and doing drills to sharpen his quickness and speed with Tom Shaw, a sprint coach who works with college football players as they prepare for the NFL scouting combines.

Schafer said he’s got his weight back up to 202 pounds, and has never been stronger in his life.

“I think he’s going to open some eyes back up,” Troy Jones said. “We tried to get him back [last year]. He knew he was going to probably have a little pain here and there throughout the year, and I think it just really affected his swing so much. He was afraid to uncork it and really groove his swing, because he was really apprehensive about his wrist. When he felt [pain in the wrist], it could be really intense.

“He’s swinging without any apprehensions now. I have no doubt he’s going to be 110 percent for spring training this year. I’m looking forward to seeing him. I’m excited because last year his state of mind, he was extremely frustrated with the whole process and how he felt. He just didn’t feel good

“You can tell, he’s got a completely different outlook as well as physical.”

Braves general manager Frank Wren gets regular updates from Jones, and is encouraged to hear the progress the center fielder has made.

“I know Schafer’s excited from a standpoint of being healthy and ready to compete,” Wren said. “We just have to continue to be patient. We’re all looking forward to seeing him back in uniform in the spring, and see if he can play like he did two years ago, when in spring training he was one of the most impressive players in Florida. Nothing’s changed, other than the calendar’s moved forward.”

McLouth has been mostly disappointing since coming to the Braves to replace Schafer after the latter's early season injury in 2009. If McLouth struggles this year, might Schafer be in line to replace him?

McLouth has been mostly disappointing since coming to the Braves to replace Schafer after the latter's early season injury in 2009. If McLouth struggles this year, might Schafer be in line to replace him?

In other words, the Braves still believe there’s a bright future ahead for Schafer, who was rated their No. 3 prospect at this time two years ago, behind Tommy Hanson and Jason Heyward.

“Absolutely,” Wren said.

Schafer soared up the prospect charts after batting .312 with an .887 OPS in Class A in 2007, when he had a whopping 74 extra-base hits (10 triples, 15 homers) and 23 stolen bases in 136 games

Then came his 50-game suspension for alleged use of human growth hormone in 2008, when he played in only 86 games, tried to do too much to make up for lost time, and ended up hitting .269 with a still-solid .850 OPS and 10 homers.

There were plenty of skeptics when Schafer came to spring training as a non-roster invitee the following year, but in a matter of weeks he showed he was the real thing. Offensively, defensively, he did it all that spring to win the starting job.

Then came the injury, undisclosed at first, and the slump and demotion.

What’s ahead for Schafer?

For now, Nate McLouth is penciled in as the Braves’ starting center fielder; the veteran is owed $7.75 million and is all but untradeable after his 2010 performance. McLouth has been a disappointment since coming to the Braves during the 2009 season, when they traded for him as a direct result of Schafer’s initial struggles.

If McLouth sputters again, the Braves need a Plan B. Right now, Schafer is beginning to seem like he could possibly be that guy again.

Minor leaguer Matt Young, a little speedster who can play center field and several other positions, was added to the roster and will compete for a job this spring. But Young is 28 and has never played in the majors.

The Braves don’t know what Young can do against big-league pitching, but they’ve seen what Schafer can do, when healthy.

“He’s a talented guy that we’re going to watch in the spring and be open minded about,” Wren said. “We’ll see what the spring holds for him.”

Training alongside Prado

It’s been a solitary existence for Schafer for much of the fall in the weight room and batting cage, but he got a welcome training partner last week when Braves All-Star Martin Prado was cleared to begin working out and hitting.

Prado had been ordered to rest for two months after suffering a torn oblique muscle and hip pointer in late September. He’s been in Orlando working with Troy Jones for much of the offseason, but until last week Prado wasn’t permitted to do much of anything in terms of running, lifting and hitting.

Now, he’s working alongside Schafer. Prado is expected to be fully recovered for spring training, and Braves fans have him penciled in as their starting left fielder now that recently acquired slugger Dan Uggla is at second base.

“He’s doing really well,” Jones said of Prado. “He’s starting to take some nice easy swings off the tee, not feeling any discomfort, and starting to feel back to normal. We’re taking it nice and easy with him, making sure when he comes back in spring training he’s 100 percent.

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“We’re going to work on getting him real strong this year. He’s going to be working some with Tom Shaw [this winter] as well, on mechanics, explosiveness.”

No team official doubts that Prado will be at 100 percent when the season begins. And while they can’t feel the same way yet about Schafer, he intends to show them – and everyone else – this spring.

Already, he looks the part.

“Yeah, he’ll be coming in the shredded Jordan again,” Jones said, referring to Schafer’s physique. “He’s looking great. I’m pretty impressed with how he’s worked. I tell you what, whatever happens, there will be no lack of effort on his part.

“He’s getting real strong, doing some really good stuff, good sprint work, lifting. He’s going to look a little bit different this year. He’s getting a little muscle back, but not too much where it’s going to slow him down. I can see him having a really good shot of making the opening day roster — and maybe stealing some bags.”

Schafer plans to come to Atlanta next week to begin working with new Braves hitting coach Larry Parrish, whom he’s spoken with on the phone recently. He’ll stay in Atlanta a while, then head back to Lake Buena Vista well before spring training begins. When position players arrive, needless to say he plans to be ready.

“As far as my body, this is the strongest I’ve been my entire life,” Schafer said. “I couldn’t be happier right now the way everything’s going, as far as my hand, my body, my strength. I’ve got all my strength and weight back. I couldn’t hope for anything more right now.”

OK, time to go mill around with a hundred or more other reporters in the hotel lobby, acting like we know we’re doing important work. Let’s close with a tune by the band that did plenty of really important work, the mighty, mighty Clash. You can listen to Joe Strummer and the lads do the tune here.

images

“COMPLETE CONTROL” by The Clash

They said release ‘Remote Control’
But we didn’t want it on the label
They said, “Fly to Amsterdam”
The people laughed but the press went mad

Ooh ooh ooh someone’s really smart
Ooh ooh ooh complete control, yeah that’s a laugh

On the last tour my mates couldn’t get in
I’d open up the back door but they’d get run out again
At every hotel we was met by the Law
Come for the party – come to make sure!

Ooh ooh ooh have we done something wrong?
Ooh ooh ooh complete control, even over this song

You’re my guitar hero

They said we’d be artistically free
When we signed that bit of paper
They meant we’ll make a lotsa mon-ee
An’ worry about it later

Ooh ooh ooh I’ll never understand
Ooh ooh ooh complete control – lemme see your other hand!

I don’t judge you.
So, why do you judge me?
Huh?

All over the news spread fast
They’re dirty, they’re filthy
They ain’t gonna last!

This is Joe public speakin’
I’m controlled in the body, controlled in the mind
This is punk rockers,
we’re controlled by the price of the hard drugs we must find
Freedom is control
Total
C-o-n control – that means you!

– by David O’Brien, Braves blog

4,491 comments Add your comment

richbrave

December 6th, 2010
10:08 am

He better bring it this ST because MATT YOUNG is going to be some serious competition for the fourth OF slot.

Coach (2011 and Fredi G. a GO!)

December 6th, 2010
10:10 am

If Jordan Schafer is one hundred percent during all of spring training, he’s gonna beat out McLouth for the CF job, and that’s a good thing :)

Kelly

December 6th, 2010
10:14 am

I hope he’s ready and all fired up. Seriously. We need a 4th outfielder for heaven’s sake.

braveslifer

December 6th, 2010
10:17 am

I’m hoping that KK is traded by the conclusion of the Winter Meetings.

JMar

December 6th, 2010
10:17 am

I feel like I’ve heard this before. No way does Schafer win the starting spot in spring training.

Braves Fan in Illinois

December 6th, 2010
10:17 am

It’s gonna be another good year in Atlanta. I can feel it.

MikeInFl

December 6th, 2010
10:18 am

Not much left to say about Schafer except, “Show me.”

Thanks for the writeup, DOB.

O.J.

December 6th, 2010
10:18 am

From other blog

Gonna give you some stats for 2 players over the past 7 to 8 years, you tell me who they belong to.

Player 1’s career averages.
.272 batting average with 25 homers and 85 RBI’s, .848 OPS

Player 2’s career averages.
.265 Batting average with 25 homers and 82 RBI’s, .841 OPS

Can you tell me who those stats belong to and which one of those players just got a huge contract and which one is a guy they are about to trade to make room for him?

Rodney Derrick

December 6th, 2010
10:19 am

Great article DOB. Amazing how vulnerable the wrist can be, especially to younger players. During the most recent season and even in the Arizona Fall League, it was clear the big impact on Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman of supposedly minor wrist injuries. Few may remember that Omar Infante had major hand/wrist fractures from errant pitches in 2008 and 2009; last year he played without getting such an injury and voila, an average over .320. Then, of course, there is the example of Jayson Werth, who sustained a broken wrist about seven years ago while with the Dodgers. This after he had already broken out with a good season and a big playoff performance. After the Dodgers non-tendered him, the Phillies got him and we know how good he became, but it took three years for him to recover fully from the wrist.

phoenix falcon

December 6th, 2010
10:20 am

I hope he’s as healthy as they seem to think, adding more power and speed to the line up is ALWAYS a good thing.

Oh and 3rd.

mclOUTh

December 6th, 2010
10:21 am

FOURTH outfielder? Sheesh..we need a THIRD outfielder. I cringe at the thought of Nate in the lineup.

NoBreggie4Dogs

December 6th, 2010
10:21 am

Fawesome SONG, love, love “The Clash”

also listened to this Aussie classic this morning = http://youtu.be/2cRODgXnIlU

rammerjammer

December 6th, 2010
10:21 am

DOB, thanks for the excellent work.

I’m guessing the intensity meter is clicking in the red zone when Prado and Schafer work out together. Good for them both…they might be outfield mates pretty soon.

LongtimeBravesfan

December 6th, 2010
10:22 am

As always, thanks for the news DOB.
Someone posted that Jayson Werth broke his wrist some years ago and didn’t become a good hitter until THREE years later. I don’t know if Schafer will ever be as good as Werth, but it’s a good reminder that we have to be very patient after certain injuries.
Given the Braves needs in the OF, it really will be great if Schafer can contribute in 2011 and keep improving in the years ahead.

Venice Jim

December 6th, 2010
10:23 am

R.I.P. Dandy Don Meredith – I always admired how the strongest word he used in the interview moments after the Ice Bowl was “dadgum”…

Andy

December 6th, 2010
10:25 am

DOB

I remember you writing a similar piece about Schafer last year at this time. I won’t believe it until I see it.

unbelievable

December 6th, 2010
10:25 am

just dont see how he’ll win the job. He’ll go to ST and compete, but there is no chance he wins the 4th OF job. He hasnt played regularly since 2007. If Nate struggles and gets released somehow then he may get the opening day CF job. If not, they’ll want him playing everyday instead of sitting on the bench

Lew

December 6th, 2010
10:28 am

Maybe now TommyP and Ward will realize that Lastings Milledge is not an option.

A healthy Schafer would mitigate a world of problems for the Braves. At the very least, he’s the best defensive CF we’ve had in the organization since Andruw beached himself.

@fauxfrankwren

December 6th, 2010
10:28 am

Funny thing…medically, an HGH injection would probably have been a good option to help regain strength in Schafer’s wrist. Sad that is not an option if performed under Dr.’s care.

Lew

December 6th, 2010
10:29 am

unbel;ievable – Even if he doesn’t start the season in Atlanta and does, indeed, need some time at Gwinnett, we’ll only need someone who can come in for a sorter time period and considering Nate will have some time to prove himself, it could work out just right.

Eric in Tampa

December 6th, 2010
10:30 am

So, Peter Gammons just made a brief statement on Dan Patrick show that, among teams who might have interest in Greinke, the Rangers make the most sense, but the Braves could be too. I imagine the Dayton Moore tie to the Braves is about as far as that reality goes…

Chopshop

December 6th, 2010
10:30 am

Anyone know how many options Schafer has left at this point ? If he is as healthy as it seems he will need to be getting AB’s every day. Other than an injury to an outfielder I can’t see a way he goes north with the team out of spring training. Let’s hope he has one option left so he can start the season in the minors and either force his hand to the major (ideal situation) or take the place of injured/underperforming CF’s.

Fish Bisch

December 6th, 2010
10:30 am

Schefter will be the boost the braves need to get them back into the playoffs since we won’t be counting on mclowth. I still think we need to re-sign Melky!

Coach (2011 and Fredi G. a GO!)

December 6th, 2010
10:30 am

O.J. You would be referring to Jayson Werth and Josh Willingham.

But yes, Werth’s contract with the Nationals is simply insane. Just you wait… when he’s 37/38 and struggling to put up 15-20 HR’s and 75-80 RBI while pulling down 18 million per season.

rrosson3

December 6th, 2010
10:31 am

if schafer is on the big league team it wont be for fourth outfielder. that does not make sense to bring a guy up who hasnt had a lot of time the last couple years to be a fourth outfielder. if hes up, he will be the starter. otherwise he will be in gwinnett getting daily at bats for if mclouth struggles.

The A Bomb

December 6th, 2010
10:33 am

Come on DOB…. the media finds all sorts of “controversial” stuff on Tiger Woods, Roger Clemens, Cam Newton etc…..

Can’t anyone find one FREAKING morsel on Kawakami???

Von Osnabruck

December 6th, 2010
10:33 am

If Schafer is finally healthy then I have no doubt he will take over CF sometime in 2011. He is a .260/.340/.450 type bat with elite level range and arm in center with 20+ SB ablity.

Wrist injuries are so tough on hitters it still makes me nervous for Schafer in 2011, but if he is 100% we could just he gifted the biggest addition of the offseason – even more dare I say than one year of Uggla.

Lew

December 6th, 2010
10:33 am

chopshop – Options should NOT be a problem for Schafer. He’s only been to the bigs once, so he should have two years worth of options left.

unbelievable

December 6th, 2010
10:34 am

OJ – Werth and Willingham

ncscoots

December 6th, 2010
10:34 am

Certainly, confidence has never been an issue for Schafer, and he’s reputed to be the baseball equivalent of a gym rat, so no question about his work ethic (in fact, I’d probably be a little concerned he’ll overwork, but surely someone is monitoring that).

Still, he hasn’t faced good pitching on a daily basis for a long time, or dealt with the fatigue that comes from playing every day. I think you have to see him against AAA for a couple-three hundred ABs to get a read on that, regardless of his ST performance.

DawgDad

December 6th, 2010
10:34 am

Good article, minus all the build-up. Sure, let’s see what he can do. A healthy YOUNG outfielder with some talent is certainly needed, but this kid needs to earn his stripes. Alas, he’s also a left-handed center fielder.

If McLouth can play he needs to start in center and let Schafer log some time in Gwinnett. Pretty easy to call him up if Nate gets off to a slow start. If Nate can play and Schafer proves to be ready it would be a lot easier to trade Schafer. McLouth doesn’t strike me as a guy who would help much coming off the bench, except to pinch run.

P'cola Brave

December 6th, 2010
10:35 am

Good to hear on Schafer. If he is truly healthy then he could compete for a job. But theres something to be said about all his off time. His timing could be way off and it may be June or so before he has his timing back.

LongtimeBravesfan

December 6th, 2010
10:35 am

Schafer has only been in the Majors in 2009, so he should have two options left. Plenty of time for him to develop and for the Braves to be patient with him.

NoBreggie4Dogs

December 6th, 2010
10:35 am

Are they trading Willingham, why?
He played a good LF last year and Werth is at right?

LongtimeBravesfan

December 6th, 2010
10:36 am

Also, if Chipper is injured and Prado has to play 3rd, Schafer and McLouth can play LF/CF.

ncscoots

December 6th, 2010
10:37 am

Anyone know how many options Schafer has left at this point ?

Non-roster invitee in 2009, so he was added to the 40-man then. Optioned in 2009, and optioned in 2010, so one option left, I guess.

Moe Berg

December 6th, 2010
10:37 am

unbelievable

December 6th, 2010
10:39 am

Also, if Chipper is injured and Prado has to play 3rd, Schafer and McLouth can play LF/CF. – Longtime

and the Braves are praying right now that they get 130 games from Chipper

NoBreggie4Dogs

December 6th, 2010
10:39 am

Put Jordan in CF in AAA and leave him there until say end August regardless of his performace and if gr8 then call him up.. if he hits leadoff he would get 400 AB or more

Lew

December 6th, 2010
10:40 am

I agree that Schafer needs to and will, in all likelihood, spend some time at Gwinnett, but just knowing he’s close to being ready and only a half hour away will make the beginning of the season much more comfortable, even if Nate remains Nately.

At the very least, I think that everyone can put away the “Let’s go get thisguy cause he’s cheap and MIGHT come back to be the player he once was” rumors.

Nah, there will still be someone who insists Lastings Milledge will be a Brave and believe he’ll not only be here, but for the MLB minimum. Right.

Andrew

December 6th, 2010
10:41 am

Great article DOB Thanks! I’d love to see Nate and Jordan battle out for a starting job. Maybe that will spark them both! I have a feeling Schafer is gonna have a good year. It’d be a perfect transition to go from Nate to Schafer since Nate will be a free agent next year. That would free up some money as well.

Lew

December 6th, 2010
10:42 am

Thought options only referred to up or down from the majors and he wasn’t in the majors last year. Does anyone really know how these damned things really work?

RC

December 6th, 2010
10:42 am

Schafer has only been in the Majors in 2009, so he should have two options left. Plenty of time for him to develop and for the Braves to be patient with him.

Any time a player is on the 40-man roster and NOT on the 25-man roster (or major league DL), he uses an option for that year.

Schafer has used options in 2009 and 2010. He has one remaining option.

ncscoots

December 6th, 2010
10:43 am

I’ve never felt this good going into spring training.

Doesn’t EVERYBODY come into ST in “the best shape of my life”, LOL?

Hillbilly

December 6th, 2010
10:43 am

Absolute gold from Peter Moylan’s latest blog entry. Sorry ladies, I know it’s a bit crude, but I couldn’t help but share this one:

Another great week, spent the morning assisting my best mate coach some under 16 state team kids at aI training session, it was nice to get back to grass roots and give a little something back, it was also fun seeing the boys faces light up when I arrived, i’m happy to report that the future of Australian baseball looks very good. Funny Story: The manager was talking about taking infield and explained to the boys that ” its all about ball management “. Of course my sick sense of humour just assumed that he was teaching these 14 and 15 year old kids how to use clippers on their nether regions!!!!!!! NO PETER what he meant was basically hit the cut off man, how wrong I was.

RC

December 6th, 2010
10:43 am

Sorry, ncscoots, didn’t see that you had already addressed the options issue.

Murph

December 6th, 2010
10:45 am

I love the smell of a new blog in the morning.

Great article DOB. Gives me some hope for the kid.

DawgDad

December 6th, 2010
10:45 am

Look, if McLouth can rebound to 2009 productivity levels the Braves will be just fine. There is cause for concern due to his lack of making contact, yes, but I suspect last year was more attributable to the slow start and the injury than not.

RC

December 6th, 2010
10:45 am

Lew,

Options refer to any time a player spends in the minor leagues while on the 40-man roster, EXCEPT for rehab assignments. So even though Schafer saw no time in the majors in 2010, the fact that he was on the 40-man roster meant he used an option for that year.

ncscoots

December 6th, 2010
10:45 am

Hey, RC, don’t mind me. :-) Get that info out there, brother. Some people scroll right past me, you know.

Big B CH 99

December 6th, 2010
10:46 am

Unless he beats Nate out for the Starting CF job, they’ll send Schafer to Gwinnett so he can play everyday and get some AB’s. He’s a young kid that needs as many AB’s as he can get, they’re not gonna keep him on the big league roster to ride the bench as a 4th OF.

Moe Berg

December 6th, 2010
10:48 am

MLBTR–speculates of a possible match between Braves and Brewers for CF prospect Lorenzo Cain. They admit speculation and not rumor.

http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2010/12/brewers-willing-to-trade-lorenzo-cain.html

hawaiibravefan

December 6th, 2010
10:49 am

I know a lot of fans given up on Schafer because of the whole ‘top prospect’, then HGH, then demotion to minors, but come on give him a chance! HE’S STILL 24 YEARS OLD. heck he can be our own ‘colby rasmus’ without giving the cardinals anymore ‘wainwrights’

Big B CH 99

December 6th, 2010
10:49 am

I think Nate may have something wrong w/ his right wrist, elbow, or shoulder. We all noted how many times he ate the ball and didn’t try to throw someone out. And the one time I saw him throw he threw a lollipop. The ball didn’t have anything on it, so I wonder if he’s been hurt, because he’s supposed to have a better arm than that.

Tomas

December 6th, 2010
10:49 am

DOB good read you managed to get me optimistic about Schafer.

However I need to see it to believe it. Matt Young should get a spot in the MLB roster as a bench player, Schafer should play in Gwinett if he kills AAA pitching and Mclouth struggles then they should call him up, but whatever the case is, Schafer needs to play everyday, in the minors or majors.

Lew

December 6th, 2010
10:49 am

RC-Well, apparently some people DO know how the damned things work. Now I’m one of them – I think. Til next time anyway.

LWells2000

December 6th, 2010
10:50 am

Spring Training should be an elimination round for Schafer and McLouth both. Neither has impressed me as being a needed outfield big bat thus far. Cut ‘em after this trial run.

Yippee Ti-Yi-Yo

December 6th, 2010
10:50 am

I agree with richbrave..Young is ready, Schafer better bring it.

Alleged use…didn’t he fail test…then whats alleged..sounds like proof to me.

Arkansas Transplant

December 6th, 2010
10:51 am

I don’t really see us trading for an outfielder unless we’re planning on trading Prado which I seriously doubt we’re planning on doing. As far as a CF goes, I do believe we’re probably stuck with (unfortuately) Mclouth. Although, if Schafer shows he’s ready and plays this ST as he did in 09 I think we could see Schafer in CF on opening day with Mclouth on the bench.

Lew

December 6th, 2010
10:51 am

Big B- Not so sure it’s one of those injuries affecting Nate. I think it’s more a connection to his brain malfunctioning.

RC

December 6th, 2010
10:53 am

Lew,

No problem. It seems like everytime I figure out how waivers/options/arbitration works, they sign a new Collective Bargaining Agreement and chance the whole system.

ncscoots

December 6th, 2010
10:53 am

Matt Young should get a spot in the MLB roster as a bench player,

Wouldn’t you like to see him take at least a couple of pitches in ST before signing off on that, LOL?

Arkansas Transplant

December 6th, 2010
10:53 am

LWells2000
December 6th, 2010
10:50 am

You do realize Schafer is just 24 and well ahead of Werth at this point in his career. I’m pretty sure the Phillies are glad they didn’t give up on him at 24.

P'cola Brave

December 6th, 2010
10:53 am

Unless Schafer tears up ST and I mean have another ‘09 ST, then he should start in AAA. If Mclouth struggles and Schafer is playing well then we may have an internal option to fill w/ out making a crazy trade. With that being said I’m hoping that Schafer has a great spring and shows everyone hes back. If he could reach his potential then our OF will look bright moving forward.

Lew

December 6th, 2010
10:53 am

He didn’t fail a test – he was accused of consorting with others who used it. There is no test for HGH as it is a naturally occuring substance in the body.

hawaiibravefan

December 6th, 2010
10:53 am

isn’t the pirates looking for starting pitching? why can’t we ship him kawakami. he’d probably be the ace on that team!

Tomas

December 6th, 2010
10:53 am

What I don’t understand about Nate is why he stopped stealing bases effectively. Isn’t speed not supposed to slump? He was a 20 steal threat, and he didn’t even stole 10 this year.

monty

December 6th, 2010
10:54 am

Count me in as a believer that JS can make it back and be a factor. I don’t think what we saw early in 2009 was fluke. Just a tough injury to deal with. Kid has pop, speed, and a gun for an arm. What’s not to like?

RC

December 6th, 2010
10:55 am

Alleged use…didn’t he fail test…then whats alleged..sounds like proof to me.

No, he didn’t fail a test. Baseball has no test for HGH. He was alledgedly tied to people who were being investigated for selling HGH. The details were never really made clear, and it was pretty obvious from his public comments that MLB had ordered him not to talk about it under threat of addtional punishment.

Lew

December 6th, 2010
10:55 am

Tomas – You have to actually be on base to steal second – something Nate hasn’t done much of since becoming a Brave.

faux positive

December 6th, 2010
10:57 am

Thanks for the update on Schafer. I’ve been thinkjing about what he’s been up to recently. Can he keep his ego in check? I don’t know who will be worse in CF him or mclout, is there a plan c? If we can get rid of KK the braves lookj to be a major contender this season.

RC

December 6th, 2010
10:57 am

Btw, comments like that are why I for one appreciate that DOB makes it a point to use the word “allegedly” when refering to the situation. Anything less than that would be bad journalism.

Lew

December 6th, 2010
10:59 am

Faux- LIke I said before, Schafer can play some D if nothing else. No one better for the Braves in CF since Andruw left. Even if he doesn’t hit, he’d be a substantial improvement in the field.

big o

December 6th, 2010
10:59 am

I’m pulling and praying for you kid. We could use your energy and passion…. Good Luck !!! Anybody but Mcout…

Lew

December 6th, 2010
10:59 am

And he’ll actually throw the ball.

David O'Brien

December 6th, 2010
11:01 am

Good to see “6″ in the hotel lobby. Sans the 6 uni, of course. (Now that would be really interesting, if Bobby Cox was sitting in the hotel lobby in his uniform. Only Tommy Lasorda would every consider doing something like that.)

JoeBravesFan

December 6th, 2010
11:02 am

How can someone be a journalist and so many typos in their article?!

Great story, though. I really hope Jordan can come back and be the player he was in 2009 ST.

hawaiibravefan

December 6th, 2010
11:02 am

To all Atlanta fans. don’t give up on shafer, i have a feeling he will be a big part of our future dynasty world series team. he’ll be the oldest of heyward, freeman, teheran, delgado, vizcaino, kimbrel. all are under 24.

RC

December 6th, 2010
11:02 am

Lew,

I agree with you that Schafer would be a huge improvement in the field, but do you think there could be any negative long-term effects on his bat if he isn’t given more time in the minors?

I certainly don’t know the answer, but if it means that we can have a better Schafer starting in 2012 then I’m ok with giving him one more year to develop.

meh

December 6th, 2010
11:02 am

good to here that Schafer is getting back on track. Looking forward to seeing him in spring training. Hopefully if Schafer comes on strong it’ll inspire McLouth to get his crap together.

O.J.

December 6th, 2010
11:02 am

You guys are right, it is Willingham and Werth. Isnt that crazy how much Werth got when Josh puts up the same numbers? Granted Josh is a little more injury prone, but when the guy plays, he puts up the same numbers.

JoeBravesFan

December 6th, 2010
11:02 am

DOB, tell Bobby hello from Braves Nation!!

Fredi's Fu Manchu

December 6th, 2010
11:03 am

Don’t we all expect Chipper to be out beginning of season? Puts Prado at third, correct? That’s how Schafer makes the team.

Lew

December 6th, 2010
11:04 am

Maybe because it’s a blog and not an article? NO proofreaders and he has better things to do right now caue he’s waiting for news in Orlando? Becaue he wrote the blog on the fly because so many impatient idiots here can’t handle it if they respond on page 40?

hawaiibravefan

December 6th, 2010
11:05 am

off topic, my birthday is this wednesday. i hope frank wren will make my birthday wishes come true by trading kk away, and possibly mclouth.

P'cola Brave

December 6th, 2010
11:05 am

Some rumors floating that the Braves may be interested in an upcoming CF w/ the Brewers named Lorenzo Cain. Don’t know much about him. If anyone knows about this guy feel free to share.

Link to stats
http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/c/cainlo01.shtml?utm_source=direct&utm_medium=linker&utm_campaign=Linker

JoeBravesFan

December 6th, 2010
11:05 am

Got a lot of pent up anger there, Lew? I didn’t know DOB had a blog body guard! :)

ncscoots

December 6th, 2010
11:06 am

One thing is for sure: it only takes a blog entry from O’Brien to turn the Schafer blog mojo around, LOL. I’ve seen more positive comments on the kid today than I have in the previous 18 months.

MaconBraves (RIP)

December 6th, 2010
11:06 am

I wouldn’t mind seeing the Braves go after Greinke if it involves Jair and a couple of mid level prospects (not an elite prospect). I like Jair, but he would be the younger pitcher I would part with first from those that have contributed so far (i.e. Hanson, Minor, Venters, etc.)

Lew

December 6th, 2010
11:07 am

RC – LIke I said, I fully expect him to get time t Gwinnett and not start in CF tilater. They’ve got to give Nate his chance for all the reasons we’ve gone over and over, so likely time in the minors shouldn’t be an issue.

However, knowing he’s there and ready if and when Nate tanks is comforting and even if he is required to move to Atlanta during the season, he will be a big improvement defensively even discounting any offensive help he might bring.

Lew

December 6th, 2010
11:08 am

hawaii – Would you maybe settle for a cake and some Ben and Jerry’s? Much more realistic expectation.

hawaiibravefan

December 6th, 2010
11:09 am

what do you guys think of trading mclouth &venters or oflaherty for ellsbury? red sox needs lhp relivers

Lew

December 6th, 2010
11:10 am

MaconBraves – With the rotation we now have and the young pitchers they project into the rotation within the next year or two and all that $$$$ coming off the books in two years, I seriously doubt they will trade for Grienke or tender Jurrjens a long term contract.

JoeBravesFan

December 6th, 2010
11:11 am

If we trade for Ellsbury, I wouldn’t want to see Venters go.

Lew

December 6th, 2010
11:11 am

hawaii – I don’t think much of anything worthwhile about it. Ellsbury’s injured and Venters will compete fo closer in ATlanta. No one wants McLouth.

RC

December 6th, 2010
11:12 am

what do you guys think of trading mclouth &venters or oflaherty for ellsbury? red sox needs lhp relivers

If the Braves trade Venters or O’Flaherty, they will need LHP relievers too.

Metro Coach

December 6th, 2010
11:13 am

At this point I’ll take JS sight unseen over McLouth. At least JS will attempt to throw a runner out. I’d take Ankiel back over McLouth.

Reid in EAV

December 6th, 2010
11:13 am

My brother and I were amongst the few saying that as soon as Schafer was truly over that wrist injury, he’d be the Heyward-esque phenom we’d always expected. (We were, and are, voices in the wilderness, but I still believe it.) And Schafe had shown no signs of being truly over it, so his struggles were to be expected. I’m no Dr. James Andrews, but I do know that wrist injuries are amongst the hardest to recover from for ballplayers, particularly when they go undiagnosed and misdiagnosed for as long as his was.

That said, this is the first time he’s actually saying and acting that he’s truly over it. I hope, for our sake, that he’s right.

Yippee Ti-Yi-Yo

December 6th, 2010
11:14 am

Thanks Lew & RC for the info. Maybe the kid can come back. At least he don’t quit trying. Anything to make Braves better is great with me.

hawaiibravefan

December 6th, 2010
11:14 am

RC: thats where frank wren comes in and resigns ankiel as our left handed reliever! just kidding. don’t we have decent lh reliever prospects in the minors?

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