Today it’s regular lineup except Heyward (sore back)

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – For a moment Sunday morning, it looked like the Braves would run out their projected opening-day lineup today against Houston for the first time in spring training.

That was before Jason Heyward was scratched because of back stiffness. And so, instead of Heyward in right field and batting sixth, Wilkin Ramirez is in right and batting eighth, with Freddie Freeman and Alex Gonzalez moving up a spot to the 6-7 positions.

Yes, Gonzalez plans to bat Heyward sixth most days, fifth when McCann's out of lineup,

Yes, Gonzalez plans to bat Heyward (above) sixth most days, fifth when McCann's out of lineup. (Jason Getz photo/AJC)

Heyward told me this morning that his back stiffened Saturday during pregame work, in part because he was out of the lineup for a scheduled day off and so did more standing around than usual because he moved to the last hitting group (since he wasn’t playing).

(I mentioned to Heyward that he’s getting old, like so many of us who wake with a sore back. He’s 21. He laughed and said, “I’m getting older.” As in, I ain’t old.)

Manager Fredi Gonzalez decided to be cautious and rest Heyward today, especially since he and all other position players are all making the long bus ride to Jupiter Monday for a two-game set against the Cardinals (the only overnight trip each spring for the Braves).

Which leads to a pair of questions I’ve been asked a lot in relation to Heyward’s heatlth and lineup position: 1. Is Fredi G. really not going to bat Heyward in the top half of the lineup?, and 2. Can Heyward stay healthy?

Let’s start with No. 1. I’m kind of surprised to be asked this one still, but I am asked. A lot.

Folks, on the day that Gonzalez was hired as manager in October, he made clear his ideal lineup would have Martin Prado and Nate McLouth at the top (provided McLouth was hitting well), and would have Chipper Jones in the 3-hole (provided Hoss was healthy), and Brian McCann and Dan Uggla at 4-5, probably alternating based on the pitcher.

Gonzalez indicated that October day, and numerous times since, that Heyward would probably be in the 6-hole in such a lineup, unless McCann was getting a rest.

Well, McLouth is hitting and Chipper is healthy. So should anyone — unless they either missed all the mentions of Gonzalez’s lineup intentions or didn’t believed him — be surprised he’s going with the lineup that’s exactly what he said his ideal lineup would be?

But in the interest of the peeps here and on Twitter, I went to Fredi this morning, for a clarification/explanation. After batting practice at 11:15 a.m., to be specific, I asked him to say again why he likes the lineup with McLouth hitting second, Heyward sixth, etc.

I started by asking if it was because he sees Heyward more as a run-producer/RBI man than a top-of-the-order hitter (since I already know why he’s not hitting him third; Gonzalez has made it clear that’s Chipper’s spot long as he’s healthy and productive).

So, I said, is it because Heyward is a run-producer?

“That’s the reason – I think he is a run-producer,” he said. “And I think it will give McLouth an opportunity to see some pitches, so he can get going. It’s a good spot for him.

“I think it works better. Because if you don’t put McLouth second, where do you put him? Sixth? Seventh? And I think, though we don’t have a prototypical leadoff guy, the way the club responded last year to Prado’s move to first, why not? He does OK up there.

“I think it works for all parties. First of all, for the team — it’s a better lineup. Then for McLouth, for Heyward.”

Managers believes that hitting McLouth second will get him more pitches to hit and help get him going and keep him going. (Jason Getz photo/AJC)

Managers believes that hitting McLouth second will get him more pitches to hit and help get him going and keep him going. (Jason Getz photo/AJC)

It also enables Gonzalez to use his preferred right-lefty balance, with right-handed hitting Prado followed by lefty McLouth, switch-hitting Chipper, McCann (lefty) and Uggla (righty).

I asked if he still intends to flip-flop McCann and Uggla according to the pitcher, with Uggla fourth and McCann fifth against lefties (when Chipper will hit right-handed).

“I think so,” Gonzalez said. “And on the days McCann doesn’t play, let Danny hit fourth.”

When McCann’s out of the lineup, will Heyward bat fifth? Yes, Gonzalez answered.

So there you go, all you move-Heyward-higher-in-the-order folks. You will at least get to see him hit fifth whenever McCann’s out of the lineup.

Also, we didn’t get into this, but I think we can probably expect to see Heyward hitting third most of the time when Chipper’s out of the lineup.

The second question: Can Heyward stay healthy? And a good question that is.

Here’s how one of our blog readers, screen name “Mike Berry,” — and maybe that’s his real name; I don’t know — asked it this morning:

“I have to be honest with you Dave. I’m starting to worry a little bit about Heyward and his health. It’s sounding like little nagging injuries may keep him off the field as much as Chipper. Does his size and all out kind of play concern you at all as far as muscle pulls, groins, strains…etc.”

My reply: You’re not the first to wonder about that.. Heyward is so muscular and large, and plays the game with such a vicious swing and aggressiveness on the bases, etc., some wonder if he can keep all those expensive parts in good working shape all the time, or at least good enough shape most of the time to stay on the field for 150 games.

We shall see. Only time will tell, right?

Braves lineup Sunday

  1. Prado LF
  2. McLouth CF
  3. Chipper 3B
  4. McCann C
  5. Uggla 2B
  6. Freeman 1B
  7. Gonzalez SS
  8. Wilkin Ramirez RF
  9. Jurrjens

Now, to the important stuff: Freddie Freeman’s hair and Derek Lowe’s covert training methods.

Freeman is the brunt of a lot of jokes in the clubhouse. The big rookie is baby-faced, amiable, and has a smile and demeanor that makes him about as unimposing as someone 6-4 and 242 pounds can possibly be.

He also has hair that, until recently, always looked like he just got out of bed. Thus, older teammates told him he officially he has the World’s Worst Hair. But not anymore.

“I don’t know [why they called it the World’s Worst Hair],” Freeman said, smiling. “But they say I got my respect back and everything with my new haircut. They told me to get the Uggla haircut. So I did. It’s worked out for me.”

Freeman, the 21-year-old rookie, gets plenty of razzing from teammates. He recently took suggestions to shake his designation of World's Worst Hair.

Freeman, the 21-year-old rookie, gets plenty of razzing from teammates. He recently took suggestions to shake his designation of World's Worst Hair.

The Uggla cut is Dan Uggla’s hybrid sort of fake Mohawk (“fauxhawk”) that’s basically a buzz cut on the sides and the back, and longer on top in a wide sort of strip that tapers barely noticeably in back to a point at the base of his head, above the neck line.

It is a cleaner, more manageable look for Freeman, who doesn’t look like he has bedhead or just fell off a turnip truck.

Not that it’s really slowed the kidding he gets from teammates, who always find something to razz him about. Yes, he’s That Guy on this team, the 21-year-old that’s going to get the good-natured hazing.

“What size head do you have,” Eric Hinske said to him this morning, as he sat a couple of lockers down from Freeman in the clubhouse, starting at the rookie’s head, unable to keep from chuckling. “It just looks really wide.”

Had to find something to bust him about. Because, as the late Warren Zevon would say, his Hair. Was. Perfect.

As for Lowe’s training methods, I asked the 37-year-old funnyman if he’s lost weight, because the 6-foot-6 pitcher appears to have dropped a few pounds, and I’d heard the noted workout zealot had been doing some rigorous new exercises.

“Same weight, about 225,” Lowe said. “I brought the hairy chest back, though. See.”

He lifted his jersey to display his chest hair.

“Old man. I’m not shaving anymore,” he said. “I’m not young anymore. I gave up. Who am I kidding?

Yes, but what about the workout?

“It’s more modified,” he said.

How so?

“I can’t give my secrets away,” Lowe said. “The Russians will find out and then come take our jobs.”

Laughter.

No, seriously, I said, what are you doing differently?

“I can’t give my secrets away,” he said. “I can not give my secrets away. I don’t give away my trade secrets. I don’t ask you how many hours you spend f—ing writing.”

What, I said, do you fear that some younger pitchers would take your methods and then be able to pitch until they were 40, thereby diminishing your legacy. (I was kidding.)

“Believe me, I don’t have a f—ing legacy,” Lowe said, laughing. “One thing I don’t have is a legacy.”

Then he headed toward the clubhouse door, ending the interview with his usual phrase: “Great talk today.”

OK, let’s get this posted a little earlier than usual. It’s a beautiful morning here at Dark Star, but losing an hour of sleep sure didn’t help matters when that alarm went off.

We’ll close with an all-time great tune, “Sunday Morning Coming Down.” Written by Kris Kristofferson, both his and Johnny Cash’s versions of the song are terrific. But have you heard them do it together? Here they are, doing it live on this video.

images

“SUNDAY MORNING COMING DOWN” by Kris Kristofferson

Well I woke up Sunday morning,
With no way to hold my head that didn’t hurt.
And the beer I had for breakfast wasn’t bad,
So I had one more for dessert.
Then I fumbled through my closet for my clothes,
And found my cleanest dirty shirt.
An’ I shaved my face and combed my hair,
An’ stumbled down the stairs to meet the day.

I’d smoked my brain the night before,
On cigarettes and songs I’d been pickin’.
But I lit my first and watched a small kid,
Cussin’ at a can that he was kicking.
Then I crossed the empty street,
‘n caught the Sunday smell of someone fryin’ chicken.
And it took me back to somethin’,
That I’d lost somehow, somewhere along the way.

On the Sunday morning sidewalk,
Wishing, Lord, that I was stoned.
‘Cos there’s something in a Sunday,
Makes a body feel alone.
And there’s nothin’ short of dyin’,
Half as lonesome as the sound,
On the sleepin’ city sidewalks:
Sunday mornin’ comin’ down.

In the park I saw a daddy,
With a laughin’ little girl who he was swingin’.
And I stopped beside a Sunday school,
And listened to the song they were singin’.
Then I headed back for home,
And somewhere far away a lonely bell was ringin’.
And it echoed through the canyons,
Like the disappearing dreams of yesterday.

On the Sunday morning sidewalk,
Wishing, Lord, that I was stoned.
‘Cos there’s something in a Sunday,
Makes a body feel alone.
And there’s nothin’ short of dyin’,
Half as lonesome as the sound,
On the sleepin’ city sidewalks:
Sunday mornin’ comin’ down.

797 comments Add your comment

bruce

March 13th, 2011
1:03 pm

Bat Masterson

March 13th, 2011
1:05 pm

cab_

Happy Birthday!

bruce

March 13th, 2011
1:06 pm

wait… heyward’s back is sore because he had a day off… will it be even more sore tomorrow because he is off today?

Nova Scotia Steve

March 13th, 2011
1:08 pm

Hey Folks!

Thanks for the fresh read DOB. Listening to radio broadcast this morning!

Venice Jim

March 13th, 2011
1:10 pm

Good start for Jair – ground out to Uggla…

Soph

March 13th, 2011
1:10 pm

Ugh, VJ. Told you.

Venice Jim

March 13th, 2011
1:11 pm

Soph – way too early…

PTBNL

March 13th, 2011
1:11 pm

Prado…. what a guy!

David O'Brien

March 13th, 2011
1:12 pm

Split squad for the Astros today. The ‘Stros have Bourn, Pence, Carlos Lee in this lineup

Venice Jim

March 13th, 2011
1:12 pm

Fly out to Prado…

Billy Jack's Barbecue & Shrimp Co

March 13th, 2011
1:12 pm

game on tv or internet ??

McFann Ô Ô

March 13th, 2011
1:12 pm

Thanks for the new Blog, Chief!

It’s cabravesfan’s b-day? Happy B-Day, cabravesfan!! :D

Venice Jim

March 13th, 2011
1:12 pm

Easy grounder to Chipper – great first inning…

cabravesfan

March 13th, 2011
1:13 pm

Thanks Bat & McFann! :D

Soph

March 13th, 2011
1:13 pm

I know, VJ but not a good start. At least they finally scored.

bruce

March 13th, 2011
1:14 pm

that’s funny Hinske busting Freeman on head size…. probably same size

Mixxo

March 13th, 2011
1:14 pm

I like Fredi’s lineup mix.

Trey

March 13th, 2011
1:14 pm

CAB, and JC, not sure if y’all are on the old blog, but I responded to you two. I will just repeat.

Cab, and JC, yeah I was just joking with him because I am usually the one to post 100 comments on a blog. I have actually been working on cutting back though.

Bat Masterson

March 13th, 2011
1:14 pm

Good stuff, David. Thanks

David O'Brien

March 13th, 2011
1:14 pm

Astros lineup: 1. Bourn CF, 2. Hernandez 2B, 3. Pence RF, 4. Lee LF, 5. Downs 1B, 6. Navarro 3B, 7. Manzella SS, 8. Quintero C, 9. Norris

Mixxo

March 13th, 2011
1:15 pm

Venice Jim

March 13th, 2011
1:16 pm

chris

March 13th, 2011
1:16 pm

heyward has a 6′5 250 pound frame. the guy is going to have a ALOT of injuries in his 30’s

Venice Jim

March 13th, 2011
1:17 pm

Well done, Mixxo…

McFann Ô Ô

March 13th, 2011
1:17 pm

You’re welcome, cabravesfan!

I just saw Tom’s post on the other Blog. :lol:

Snotboogie

March 13th, 2011
1:17 pm

ST numbers and their magic. This portly OF currently playing for KC is leading the league in avg with .519. He also has an OBP of .548 (2nd) and SLG of .815 (4th) – yes SLG not OPS. That’s our Melky!

headley lamar

March 13th, 2011
1:17 pm

Heading down to Dark Star on the 18th.

Will be at the games Saturday ( Lakeland )

Sunday ( Disney )

Monday driving down to St Lucie ( Mets )

Back to Disney Wednesday (Marlins)

I cant wait !!!!

Venice Jim

March 13th, 2011
1:17 pm

Does anyone out there actually need play by play today, given the nice radio stream?

bruce

March 13th, 2011
1:18 pm

Lowe’s chest hair… could have done better not knowing he shaved before and now is proud… tmi but still funny

David O'Brien

March 13th, 2011
1:20 pm

Chipper Jones lines a single to CF with two out in 1st

bruce

March 13th, 2011
1:21 pm

chipper ready to go north too?

Snotboogie

March 13th, 2011
1:21 pm

Guess not VJ – I’m guessing not too many people are stuck behind the workplace firewall either. Thanks for the offer.

reagan

March 13th, 2011
1:22 pm

Raindawg…….your 11:01 am post on the last blog is right on!!…Someone should mention the yoga thing to Heyward and Freddie……..sounds like exactly what he needs. They should read about it and give it serious consideration.

Ghost of Gil Garrido

March 13th, 2011
1:22 pm

I get that Heyward in the six hole makes sense. Just wish the line-up provided better protection for him there.

Mixxo

March 13th, 2011
1:22 pm

Chipper is looking GOOD!

*knocks on wood*

Supes

March 13th, 2011
1:22 pm

DOB,

Excellent interview/funny comments as well with D-Lowe and getting other quotes as usual :)

As far as Heyward…I too share the concern like others about his potential injuries, etc…the combination of size/strength and level of game play (hard all out) equals greater risk of frequent injuries to the young man. Maybe with time he’ll learn to “back off” at certain times as far as his intensity/level of play therefore avoiding injuries?

If everyone is doing well in the lineup…if you remember Heyward really did well hitting 6th in the order last year, and it was good to have him come up in RBI spots rather than having him hit with less guys on base.

chris

March 13th, 2011
1:23 pm

i thought chipper’s bat would need more time, but hes looked better at the plate than the last couple of spring training

Jay212033

March 13th, 2011
1:23 pm

I’m at work reading the blog on my phone can someone please give play-by-play?

Kat

March 13th, 2011
1:23 pm

Love the quotes from Lowe on himself and Hinske on Freeman, haha.

McFann Ô Ô

March 13th, 2011
1:23 pm

JC from DR!

March 13th, 2011
1:24 pm

That was McLouth’s first strikeout in like, 25 AB.

Nova Scotia Steve

March 13th, 2011
1:24 pm

Looks like the entire Braves team are ready to head North. It’s exciting.

Just stay healthy boys (Heyward).

Bat Masterson

March 13th, 2011
1:25 pm

Chipper is looking GOOD!

*knocks on wood* _ Mixxo

Your head?

JC from DR!

March 13th, 2011
1:26 pm

WAKE UP Mac!!!!!!

bruce

March 13th, 2011
1:27 pm

Marlins Nolasco a bit rusty… hit two Nats in one inning both on two strike counts… yikes… bases loaded 2 runs scored

GT Alum

March 13th, 2011
1:27 pm

I think the reason you keep getting that question is that Fredi claims to have some knowledge of more academic baseball thinking, like sabermetrics. However, especially with the reasons he provides for constructing his lineup the way he does, he seems to be completely ignoring them when it comes to constructing his lineup.

Venice Jim

March 13th, 2011
1:27 pm

Jay – will do my best – first two batters out for the Astros in the top of the second…

Bravo

March 13th, 2011
1:27 pm

The McDonough Malady is hurt again? Imagine that

Venice Jim

March 13th, 2011
1:28 pm

JJ walks Navarro…

Mixxo

March 13th, 2011
1:29 pm

Bat Masterson :roll:

Jay212033

March 13th, 2011
1:29 pm

Thanks Venice Jim!

McFann Ô Ô

March 13th, 2011
1:30 pm

Hehehehehehe……

Nova Scotia Steve

March 13th, 2011
1:30 pm

DOB:

Not that this is anywhere on your priority list but it’s just a thought. I read Derek Lowe’s Blog. He hasn’t updated in forever but he did when he first became a Braves and even before that when he was with the Dodgers.

It was a really really good read. All four or five entries. If you’re ever shooting the proverbial with him maybe you could mention that this fan(s) thought they were really interesting reads and he had quite a few followers reading from his Red Sox days as well.

It seems Lowe’s is a pretty popular guy and has been everywhere he’s gone. People rag on him for his salary but I’ve always like the guy and like him even more now he’s a Brave. He’s a solid guy to have in your rotation.

His tutelage with young guys like Medlen and Hanson is something you can’t replace…I know him and Medlen are tight and Lowe has helped him quite a bit…I’ve always been a Lowe supporter…and he looks great this Spring.

Anyway just a thought…Anyone else ever read his “blog”???

Venice Jim

March 13th, 2011
1:31 pm

Soph – but I’m liking it so far…

Venice Jim

March 13th, 2011
1:31 pm

Strike out ends the inning…

Tomahawkin

March 13th, 2011
1:31 pm

Ho Sit Down!

Mitchie-san

March 13th, 2011
1:32 pm

Happy Birthday, CAB…

David O'Brien

March 13th, 2011
1:32 pm

Jurrjens has allowed 1 walk with1 K through 2 innings, no score headed to bottom 2nd

Nova Scotia Steve

March 13th, 2011
1:33 pm

Tomahawkin – What’s up man…long time…Good to see you bloggin!

Tomahawkin

March 13th, 2011
1:33 pm

Bat Masterson

“Chipper is looking GOOD!

*knocks on wood* _ Mixxo

Your head?”

Ouch, lol

Venice Jim

March 13th, 2011
1:34 pm

Uggla leads off the bottom of the 2nd…

David O'Brien

March 13th, 2011
1:34 pm

We’ve had two Hendrix tunes (including “Manic Depression”) and Skynyrd’s “Gimme Three Steps” played on the stadium PA in the past 30 minutes. Dude, turn it up….

Nova Scotia Steve

March 13th, 2011
1:35 pm

Let’s go Uggs

Mike Berry

March 13th, 2011
1:35 pm

Hey…I made Dave’s blog writeup. Cool…thanks Dave.

JC from DR!

March 13th, 2011
1:35 pm

One of these days, Heyward will get out of bed and get scratch from the lineup because of a mosquitoes bite…

Venice Jim

March 13th, 2011
1:35 pm

Uggla grounds to third…

Tomahawkin

March 13th, 2011
1:35 pm

Gotta Give a Stupid Shout Out to My Boy NSS

Whats Happening Chief!

Bravo

March 13th, 2011
1:35 pm

We’re cursed.

Our superstars either fall of a cliff at 30: Andruw Jones and Dale Murphy

Or they get hurt all the time: Chipper and Heyward

Lew

March 13th, 2011
1:37 pm

Bi Polar Disease is a frustrating mess. Just kind of loses something, doesn’t it?

Venice Jim

March 13th, 2011
1:37 pm

richbrave – good start for the Spiders today…

Venice Jim

March 13th, 2011
1:38 pm

Freeman walks…

Tomas

March 13th, 2011
1:38 pm

Bravo, relax bro, we’re not Cub fans

Billy Jack's Barbecue & Shrimp Co

March 13th, 2011
1:39 pm

thanks Mixxo. funny, all my ‘kin are buried in cleveland, tn.

Bravo

March 13th, 2011
1:40 pm

we’re doomed tomas. DOOMED!

Venice Jim

March 13th, 2011
1:40 pm

Wild pitch – Freddie to 2nd – 2-2 on Gonzo…

headley lamar

March 13th, 2011
1:40 pm

played on the stadium PA in the past 30 minutes. Dude, turn it up….

Good music but if I had one complaint about Champions Stadium its that in the stands the PA system is unbelievably loud. Ive been to ST the last 5 years and you just about need ear plugs if you are sitting close to the speakers.

Bravo

March 13th, 2011
1:41 pm

The only way to get a spring training game on MLBN is to play the Yankees or Red Sox?

Nova Scotia Steve

March 13th, 2011
1:41 pm

T-Hawkin – Not much man…been reading lots but not much postin going on…haven’t had much time to blog..

Still f’in cold up here in the North – It was – 34 C yesterday but supposed to warm up this week so bring on Spring/Summer and Opening Day.

Looking forward to getting this train rollin’ on March 31st.

Venice Jim

March 13th, 2011
1:42 pm

Gonzo single – Freeman scores…

Tomas

March 13th, 2011
1:42 pm

Alex is looking really, really good

David O'Brien

March 13th, 2011
1:43 pm

Freeman scores on Alex Gonzalez single to left and E7 on play, Braves up 1-0 in 2nd

McFann Ô Ô

March 13th, 2011
1:43 pm

Bravo

That doesn’t happen with ALL our superstars……

Tomahawkin

March 13th, 2011
1:43 pm

David O'Brien

March 13th, 2011
1:43 pm

Two-run BOMB for Wilkin Ramirez to straightaway CF

Tomas

March 13th, 2011
1:43 pm

Wilkin has impressed..HR

Jay212033

March 13th, 2011
1:43 pm

Gonzo has looked pretty good this spring.

Wow..

March 13th, 2011
1:44 pm

Wilkin Ramirez>Schafer

Tomas

March 13th, 2011
1:44 pm

BraveOne

March 13th, 2011
1:44 pm

W. Ramirez needs a spot on the MLB bench! He can handle the bat and he would provide some power of the Bench late in the Game.

Chris from the Rock

March 13th, 2011
1:45 pm

Wilkin Ramirez is making a run at that 4th OF spot.

Bartman...

March 13th, 2011
1:45 pm

Watch out for Wilkin Ramirez.!

Tomas

March 13th, 2011
1:45 pm

Can Wilkin play good defense in CF.

JC from DR!

March 13th, 2011
1:46 pm

Wilkin with a blast!! :D

Venice Jim

March 13th, 2011
1:47 pm

JJ Ks, Prado flies out…

GT Alum

March 13th, 2011
1:47 pm

Bravo -

Or the Nationals. As far as I can tell, blame it on the Braves for not signing a contract to have someone televise their ST games. Doesn’t look like MLB actually covers games themselves. They just carry the games that are already being televised so a larger audience can view them.

rob from sc

March 13th, 2011
1:48 pm

DOB

Does Ramirez have a chance at the 4th OF spot?

Jay212033

March 13th, 2011
1:48 pm

I like Ramirez’ swing, he has plus speed and a good arm. Hopefully he learns to take a walk or two and he’d be starter material.

Tomahawkin

March 13th, 2011
1:48 pm

@NSS

Can’t wait for the 31st…The S. Training Schedule is Wayyy too long!

Venice Jim

March 13th, 2011
1:49 pm

Top of the third, Braves up 3-0 – Quintero pops to Uggla…

Hugo Z Hackenbush

March 13th, 2011
1:50 pm

Ramirez for president!

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