Archive for February, 2011

Shaky outings for new relievers Linebrink, Sherrill

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – It’s been an unsettling start to camp for the Braves bullpen, with both Craig Kimbrel and veteran Scott Proctor struggling in the Braves’ first two games. On Monday, it was a pair of veteran newcomers who had some shaky outings.

Scott Linebrink gave up three hits and hit a batter in a two-run third inning Monday. George Sherrill followed by loading the bases in the fourth inning before escaping on a double-play groundball.

Both relievers are trying to rebound from off years with their respective former teams – Linebrink, who had a 4.40 ERA last year with the White Sox and Sherrill, who had a 6.69 ERA with the Dodgers.

All of Linebrink’s damage came with two outs after he got two strikes on Michael Bourn. He lost a pitch, albeit a 95 mph one, for a ball, then hit Bourn trying to come inside.

Brett Wallace followed with a run-scoring single off the glove of second baseman Dan Uggla and then Carlos Lee came up with an RBI single on a pop-up on the …

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McLouth reaches base four times in 13-3 win over Astros

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLA. – For all the uncertainty surrounding center fielder Nate McLouth this spring, one thing was clear Monday. He got just the kind of game he needed to jumpstart his spring training.

McLouth went 2-for-2 with a double, two RBIs, two walks, three runs and a stolen base to lead the Braves to a 13-3 win over the Astros. It set the tone for a big offensive day for the Braves, including two doubles from Eric Hinske, Dan Uggla’s first hit as a Brave, and a six-run second inning fueled by two Brian McCann hits.

In the Braves’ first win of spring training, McLouth got his first hit of spring on a flare to left center off left-hander Wandy Rodriguez.

“My first hit was a bloop hit, but at least it didn’t take me nine games to get it,” McLouth said.

McLouth has reached base as many times in the first two games and he did in much of spring training last year. He’s been on base six times in his first two games, including a walk and hit by pitch on Saturday …

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Lowe brings confidence of 2010 finish into spring training debut

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Nobody had to see the two scoreless innings Derek Lowe threw Monday to know that he returns to the mound with the same confidence he had last September.

It was what he didn’t do in a 13-3 win over the Astros in his first outing of spring training that gave it away.

Lowe didn’t throw a single breaking ball to the Astros, the pitch he says made the biggest difference in his turnaround late last season, when he went 5-0 with a 1.17 ERA in September.

On the suggestion of his trainer, Lowe decided to table his breaking ball for the first two weeks of camp, to help his stamina in the long run as he approaches his 37th birthday in June. But now he knows the breaking pitch will still be there.

“You feel like as long as you didn’t make any changes, you should be able to pick up where you left off,” Lowe said. “That in and of itself gives you confidence because you know you just did it four months ago.”

Lowe said he threw some breaking pitches as …

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Chipper starts second straight game at DH; Prado on left field so far

 

 

 

Jones tests the left knee on a slide into second Sunday

Jones tests the left knee on a slide into second Sunday

 

 

Staff writer Carroll Rogers is filling in for David O’Brien today.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – So you might be able to tell from the date line…Reinforcements have been called in, and I’m taking the controls for a few days. Bear with me as I try to catch up to speed with the guys who have been here for two weeks. It’s kind of like jumping on a moving merry-go-round or something.

Here’s what we’ve got so far this lovely Florida morning – high in the upper 80s today – Chipper Jones is back in the lineup today at DH for the second straight day. His knee bounced back well from his first action yesterday, including his slide into second base at “sun-dial speed.”

“It’s a little sore, but it’s good enough,” Jones said.

He told Fredi Gonzalez he wanted back in today, and there’s a chance he’ll plays tomorrow too against the Astros when the Braves travel to Kissimmee. He normally …

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Braves’ single-game tickets go on sale

Individual Braves game tickets, starting as low as $8, went on sale at 10 a.m. Monday.

Tickets are available Braves.com/tickets,  the Braves’ ticket office at Turner Field, the Braves Clubhouse Store at the CNN Center, all Publix Ticketmaster outlets, or by calling Ticketmaster at 1-800-745-3000.

The Braves will take on the Philadelphia Phillies in the home opener on Friday, April 8.

There are three significant bobblehead giveaways, with the first 20,000 fans for these games receiving a bobblehead: June 15 vs. the Mets (Jason Heyward), July 28 vs. the Pirates (Chipper Jones) and Aug. 18 vs. the Giants (Dan Uggla).

Also, there are 21 value dates this season with savings of up to 30 percent on Monday through Thursday games between April 12 and May 17, and Aug. 30 through Sept. 28. Tickets must be bought before the date of the game to get the discount.

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Battle for fifth-starter job is underway


LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The Braves’ fifth-starter competition is officially underway, and Brandon Beachy probably wishes he could take a mulligan.

All three candidates pitched two innings apiece Sunday against the Mets, with Rodrigo Lopez and Mike Minor giving up no runs, while Beachy allowed two runs and three hits.

“Lopez did a nice job; Minor did the same thing,” Gonzalez said. “Beachy got into a little jam, but he got himself out to minimize the damage.”

Lopez pitched the first two innings and threw three consecutive balls to leadoff hitter Willie Harris. He walked Harris on six pitches, then made an adjustment to a mound that Lopez said had a deeper slope than the bullpen mound.

The veteran right-hander got six outs in the next six batters, including a double-play grounder by Josh Thole in the second inning. Lopez allowed one hit and one walk with one strikeout.

“I threw one breaking ball, but [otherwise] just mixed fastball and few …

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Proctor gives up three-run homer, Braves blow lead

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Another day, another blown lead against the Mets.

After blowing three leads in a 5-5, 10-inning tie against the Mets in Saturday’s Grapefruit opener, the Braves blew a four-run lead Sunday in a 5-4 loss against the New Yorkers.

The big blow was journeyman second baseman Russ Adams’ long, three-run homer in the eighth off Braves veteran Scott Proctor, who has missed most of two seasons recovering from elbow surgeries. The right-hander allowed two hits and two walks in the eighth.

“The guy [Adams] is a dead-fastball hitter and he left it right over the plate, Gonzalez said. “If this was a week to go or something, then you’d be worried. But it’s the first time out.”

Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman was out of the game and working out in the weight room when Proctor gave up the homer. He saw Proctor walking through the clubhouse later and asked him how he’d pitched.

Proctor made the sound of a bomb detonating and said, …

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Chipper has a hit and takeout slide in first game back

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Some Braves fans (and probably team officials) held their collective breath when Chipper Jones slid into second base to break up a double play in the fourth inning Sunday in his first game since knee surgery.

Not to worry. The 38-year-old third baseman trotted off, stayed in for one more at-bat, and at the end of the day had passed another test in his comeback.

“Couldn’t be happier,” Jones said after going 1-for-3 with a single during a 5-4 loss against the New York Mets. “Just glad to be playing again.”

Serving as designated hitter in the Braves’ Grapefruit League home opener, lined a first-pitch hit to left field off Oliver Perez in his second of three plate appearances before an appreciative crowd of 7,040 at Champion Stadium.

“I thought it was a great day,” manager Fredi Gonzalez said of Jones’ first game back. “He got three at-bats, ran the bases, got a hit from the right side off a lefty, slid at second breaking …

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Dark Star debut: Uggla starts home opener, Chipper DH

The Braves' middle-infield duo of Dan Uggla and Alex Gonzalez will debut today (Jason Getz photo/AJC)

The Braves' middle-infield duo of Dan Uggla and Alex Gonzalez will debut today (Jason Getz photo/AJC)

DARK STAR, Fla. – There will be a packed house here today for the Braves’ Grapefruit League home opener against the Metropolitan Financial Nightmares, and they’ll Dan Uggla make his highly anticipated debut for the Bravos. (Scratch the packed house part, plenty of empty seats as I update this at gametime.)

And while the prices are juuuust a bit steep here at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports,  I heard them play a Social Distortion song (“Story of My Life”) on the PA outside the ballpark the other day. I was shocked. (And as I type this, the Lemonheads’ cover of “Mrs. Robinson” is playing during batting practice. What is going on here?)

Martin Prado is in left field and leading off today in his spring debut. (Jason Getz photo/AJC)

Martin Prado is in left field and leading off today in his spring debut. (Jason Getz photo/AJC)

Anyway, Uggla’s at second base and the relocated Martin Prado is in his new position in left field and leading off, with Jordan …

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Eventful day for Braves infielder Ed Lucas

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — For a guy who spent the first half of the game on the bench, Ed Lucas sure had an eventful day.

Te Braves’ backup middle-infield candidate went 2-for-2 with a pair of RBI singles in the Braves’ 5-5, 10-inning tie with the Mets on Saturday.

The former Kansas City Royals minor leaguer also made a throwing error on a short toss to second base from behind the bag, and Lucas was called out for not touching third base while racing home from second base on Diory Hernandez’s ninth-inning single.

Lucas’ ninth-inning RBI single had given the Braves a 3-2 lead, which they could have stretched to 4-2 if he weren’t called out when the Mets threw to third to appeal after Hernandez bounced his single to left field.

The Mets scored a tying run in the bottom of the inning.

Schafer’s day at leadoff

Center fielder Jordan Schafer went 1-for-4 with a single and a strikeout while serving as designated hitter and batting leadoff.

He’s competing for the fourth-outfield job …

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