Healthy Jurrjens starts Grapefruit opener vs. Mets

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Twelve months ago, the Braves were beginning the Grapefruit League season and Jair Jurrjens was rehabbing a sore shoulder, the first in a string of injuries that contributed to his worst season.

He was miserable then. He’s Jair Jurrjens again now. Healthy and happy.

Jurrjens is in a much better place than he was a year ago, when his shoulder was sore and his long, painful season was about to begin. (Jason Getz photo/AJC)

Jurrjens is in a much better place than he was a year ago, when his shoulder was sore and his long, painful season was about to begin. (Jason Getz photo/AJC)

“It’s like a new beginning,”said the Braves right-hander, who is scheduled to start and pitch two innings in Saturday’s Grapefruit League opener against the New York Mets at Port St.Lucie, Fla. “For me it’s a new season, and it’s going to be exciting to go out there and compete in a healthy way. It’s going to be like a brand new episode for me.”

The 1:10 p.m. game will be shown online on MLB.TV and carried on radio in Atlanta on 680-AM and 93.7-FM, with Jim Powell and Don Sutton in the broadcast booth.

Jurrjens will make his first start since Sept. 14, when he gave up four runs, nine hits and two homers in five innings of a loss to Washington. Five days earlier, he allowed seven runs, 10 hits and two homers in 3-2/3 innings of a loss against St. Louis.

He missed the rest of the season and postseason with torn cartilage in his right knee, which was repaired through arthroscopic surgery Oct. 20. Jurrjens also missed nearly two months with a pulled hamstring that he reinjured during rehab.

The Curacao native finished a 7-6 with a 4.64 ERA in 20 starts, just one year after going 14-10 with a 2.60 ERA that was the third-lowest among NL starters.

He reported to spring training two weeks ago leaner, stronger and more flexible.

“It’s fun to be able to do everything with the team,” he said. “I’m having fun now again.”

Jurrjens, 25, said he’s heard some suggest he pitched too many innings in his first two full seasons in the majors, including 215 innings in 2009. He says that had nothing to do with last year’s injuries.

“I just didn’t take care of myself like I did this offseason,” he said. “Last year was a difficult year. I was working out really hard, but not having anything to show for it.

“I just needed to be smarter. That’s things you learn, how to work out, how to take care of yourself better. And I went through that process last year. I’m a little bit more mature now, and do what I can do now in the offseason to come in healthy and strong for the whole season.”

The Braves are counting on Jurrjens to be a key contributor again in a rotation that features him along with Tim Hudson, Derek Lowe and Tommy Hanson. They’ll probably need all of them to have solid seasons if they’re to keep up with Philadelphia and its ace-laden rotation including Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and left-handers Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels.

“With us and the Phillies, it’s always close games,” Jurrjens said. “That means we have good pitching, too. You still have to go out there and try to make pitches, and we still need to hit.

“I think we can go head-to-head with them pitching-wise. On offense, their lineup is really balanced out – they have good power, speed. They beat us a little bit on the lineup, but pitching-wise, I think we’re [comparable], and pitching is the game, man.

“Good pitching beats the best hitting.”

The Braves believe they have an edge in the bullpen.

“Yes, definitely have a better bullpen,” Jurrjens said. “They don’t have anybody to get to [Phillies closer Brad] Lidge. We just need to play it out and play smart baseball.”

18 comments Add your comment

Bravos

February 25th, 2011
6:13 pm

Lets go JJ!!

Andrew

February 25th, 2011
6:14 pm

Go get um JJ!! Cant wait!!

Brava

February 25th, 2011
6:25 pm

Good luck tomorrow, JJ!

I know these are just ST games, but they do help build up players’ confidence.

DMF1120

February 25th, 2011
6:48 pm

Or are these ST games to build up the fans confidence?

RRinSuwanee

February 25th, 2011
6:55 pm

JJ – Atlanta (home) is so proud of your hard work and heart in the off season this year! You are a class act! GO GET IT ALL!

Bravedawg

February 25th, 2011
7:43 pm

Michael Procton

February 25th, 2011
8:14 pm

Wow…pretty ballsy choice by Jurrjens to call out the Philly bullpen. He’s right, but it’s not the sort of thing you usually see a pro athlete willing to mention.

BringOnTeheranTradeLowe

February 25th, 2011
9:00 pm

I am psyched about this season. I like the mix of good, new vets like Dan Uggla and new, young players like Freddie Freeman and Matt Young. I would love to see him stick. He adds speed and a stolen base threat that Atlanta hasn’t had. Good to read DOB’s article about him. Good luck Bravos!

Bob the Blogger

February 25th, 2011
9:40 pm

I haven’t heard much about JJ over the winter. Good to hear he’s healthy and ready to get it done – a big plus for the Braves.

ExBraves Fan

February 25th, 2011
10:07 pm

For the Braves to make the playoffs, they are going to need JJ to win 14-16, Hansen to win 15-18, Hudson to win at least 18 and Lowe to get 13-15 wins. The 5th starter needs 10-11 wins to really put them over the top. If each can win the top number, the Braves should do fine. Chipper needs to bounce back to maybe .260-.285, 15-25 HRs and 80-90 RBI. If he hits less, they will suffer.

Cleanuphitter16

February 25th, 2011
10:08 pm

Great to hear such maturity and focus from JJ. Go get ‘em tomorrow man! You are an important part of an amazing staff. We are lucky to see you guys in action! Here’s to a great season and GO BRAVES!

Mitchell

February 25th, 2011
10:32 pm

I love Jair Jurrjens. I love Jair Jurrjens almost as much as I love Martin Prado.

If I were a chick I would want to marry him.

Perhaps I’ve said too much.

NCBrave

February 25th, 2011
11:33 pm

What a Beast…

daniel buck

February 26th, 2011
2:36 am

How about the trade rumor to the Yanks… DOB??? Could they flip Beachy or maybe even Lowe to the Evil Empire for Gardner and solve problems… Maybe we could dump Mc-out to them for something else…

GT71

February 26th, 2011
6:43 am

Nice job, and we like all that, but…
We know game to be broacast on MLB TV on Saturday…But at what time?

David O'Brien

February 26th, 2011
7:15 am

GT71, the game starts at 1:10 p.m. today

Larry

February 26th, 2011
11:22 am

All I want to know is where do all these prognosticators get thier numbers from and what do they really mean across 162 games? Seriously, edify me…

brian

February 26th, 2011
12:10 pm

braves are not moving any pitcher at all not named KK. even for gardner. they see pitching depth more important than almost anything else. and even though i would love gardner in CF, they see mcclouth 1 year removed from a pretty decent well rounded season. they are in a wait and see mind set with mcclouth and the team as a whole before they even cosnider making a move. if they are successful and mcclouth is not, they will make a move to upgrade at CF when needed. no question.

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