New Braves manager gets early a.m. call from Cox

WASHINGTON – Fredi Gonzalez was in a cab with some coaches early Thursday morning on their way to the ballpark when his cellphone rang.

It was his old boss, Bobby Cox, aka “The Skipper” to Gonzalez, always.

“He was having coffee, and he called to wish us good luck and to have a good season,” the new Braves manager said of the call from the iconic ex-manager.  “And he said he’d be watching the game.”

Someone asked what time Cox called, and Gonzalez smiled.

“He knows the [routine], so when he called he said, ‘Are you guys getting out of the cab?’ I said, we’re right around the corner from the stadium. [Gonzalez laughed]. So we talked for a little bit.”

The Braves beat the Washington Nationals 2-0 on Thursday in the first game of the post-Cox era. The win came in the same city where Gonzalez won his debut as a big-league manager in 2007, when his Marlins beat Manny Acta’s Nationals on opening day in the first matchup between two major league managers of Cuban descent.

Gonzalez’s moves worked Thursday, from his decision to start Derek Lowe on opening day (Lowe got his third straight opening win) to batting Chipper Jones and Brian McCann third and fourth (two hits apiece) and Jason Heyward sixth (home run).

He used his co-closers in the eighth and ninth innings and both Jonny Venters and Craig Kimbrel responded with perfection, Kimbrel striking out the last two batters for the save.

Gonzalez was asked about how it felt to get his first win as Braves manager.

“Obviously you want to win the ballgames, but it doesn’t feel any different,” he said. “A win’s a win. I’m wearing this uniform and wearing it hopefully for a long time time, and [hopefully] we get a lot of wins.”

Freeman hopes to end revolving door

Rookie Freddie Freeman became the 12th different first baseman to start opening day for the Braves in 13 years, and the fifth in the past five years. The Braves expect Freeman to end the revolving door and become a fixture at the position.

“That’s my goal,” said Freeman, who showed his defensive prowess on a couple of outstanding plays. “I’m going to work hard and hopefully I can stay here.”

When asked if he’d like to be the first baseman for a few years, he smiled and said, “Hopefully many more than that.”

The only first baseman to start more than one opening day for the Braves in the past 13 years was Adam LaRoche, who did it in 2005 and 2006. Coincidentally, he’s now the Nationals’ first baseman.

Etc.

After Thursday’s win, the Braves are 36-37 against the Nationals since the beginning of the 2007 season. It was only their 11th win in 28 games at Nationals Park…. Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman are both 21. The last time the Braves had two under-22 players in opening day lineup was 1979 (Bob Horner, Glenn Hubbard), and the last time any team had two was Tampa Bay in 2003 (Carl Crawford, Rocco Baldelli)…. Chipper Jones’ first-inning double was the 494th of his career. — David O’Brien

68 comments Add your comment

eskippy

March 31st, 2011
7:51 pm

"Chef" Tim Dix

March 31st, 2011
8:00 pm

I know time marches on, but what a great read it would be to see how Bobby spent the day and his reaction.

J-Man

March 31st, 2011
8:04 pm

I’m really impressed by our BP. We still didnt show off all of our weapons (Linebrink and Sherrill). Complete Team

Brava

March 31st, 2011
8:08 pm

Not at all surprised that Bobby called Fredi. I’m sure Bobby has gone from manager to being the Braves’ #1 fan. Good stuff.

[...] Atlanta Braves [...]

dawg4u

March 31st, 2011
8:42 pm

I am glad that BC is keeping up with the team. We are moving on and Bobby is still there. Thanks Fredi and also Bobby.

Tami

March 31st, 2011
8:49 pm

What a terrific gesture by Bobby! But I kind of expected that he might do something like this. I’m sure he enjoyed watching the game today from home. Gotta wonder if he had some wistful tugs today, although I’m sure he was glad not to be up in D.C. in the freezing cold like the rest of the Braves were. Great 1st game of the season. I hope it’s a strong indicator of the rest of the season to come!

CrazyDiamond

March 31st, 2011
8:51 pm

Fredi is a genius. Gotta love Say Hey! The bandwagon has lots of room today!

The season has begun for real and I love it! Looking forward to an exciting season.

cattle dawg

March 31st, 2011
9:05 pm

Good start to the season! How big was the umps strike zone today?

E-6

March 31st, 2011
9:22 pm

Good start. Fredi did at least one thing that Bobby would not have done – using Venters in the 8th against all right handed hitters and Kimbrel in the 9th where a couple leftys were due.

George Stein

March 31st, 2011
9:44 pm

Fredi won one and that’s great. But for the love of God, why is he batting Heyward sixth?

Big Cahunar

March 31st, 2011
9:48 pm

Why is this even news ? I’m sure lots of ex-managers call and wish the new manager good luck in their first game.

Crystal

March 31st, 2011
9:48 pm

E-6: Yeah, that was a bit odd, but I wanted to see Craig close this game nonetheless. Go BRAVES!

atlchris

March 31st, 2011
9:50 pm

Hey Brava I am with you. So many people have tried to insinuate that some how it is a bad thing that Bobby is still around. Can you imagine being his age and after 30+ yrs you are out of the game. I couldn’t.

Kendell Jones

March 31st, 2011
9:51 pm

This was just a great game. Three different pitchers, and all three almost perfect. Chipper looks like he might be about ten years younger, and played like it. Heyward showed his strength again, and everythiing just went perfect for a perfect ending.

RHR

March 31st, 2011
10:04 pm

I bet today was a tough day for Bobby. :(

reckingball

March 31st, 2011
10:06 pm

I counted at least 5, different Braves pitchers, in the game.

Steve

March 31st, 2011
10:18 pm

The reason that you bat Heyward 6th is because it just makes sense right now. It’s like that stacked slow pitch softball league roster you have. You have two lead off hitters and than boom Chipper 3rd and than two power hitters in a row and than boom Heyward. How do you pitch around that? Heyward will not be a sixth place hitter for long. Once Chipper retires you can bet Heyward will either slide to the 3 hole or maybe cleanup with Uggs going to the third hole!

DaveinNEPA

March 31st, 2011
10:31 pm

I guess it was a nice gesture for Bobby to call Fredi and wish him well…………….BUT.

After the comment made by Chipper that whenever he went into Fredi’s office during ST, Bobby was sitting there too, I would have to think Fredi might be getting the idea that Bobby is looking over his shoulder so to speak. I’m not sure that if I was in the same situation that I would like that very much. It’s Fredi’s team now, Bobby should fade away and let him alone.

Remarkable

March 31st, 2011
10:46 pm

Hey David,
Any one else have almost 500 doubles in baseball now. That’s a great feat! Go Chipper.

hey its franklyn

March 31st, 2011
11:16 pm

jason heyward was the real rookie of the year last year…buster poser played .305 average and played only 106 games including the postseason..if he had of played the entire year he would have had the same average as heyward…and heyward had a hurt hand…poser was like a jay bruce…started off hot and nobody talks about bruce n e more….i love bobby cox but he does need to try to keep his distance..i know its hard but let fredi do his thing…..go braves!!

hey its franklyn

March 31st, 2011
11:24 pm

what i mean is bobby’s way wasnt workin anymore…he was old school and thought you could win championships with squeeze plays and good pitching(he couldnt keep up with how the game changed, he just kept on keepin on)…bobby never stold a base and played everything safe….i got so tired of seeing our players look tired and lazy on the bench(like bobby cox)…they looked different than any other team…they needed a spark undr here ars!

George Stein

March 31st, 2011
11:25 pm

No, it makes no sense, Steve. This is not slow pitch softball. Why is Chipper batting third? Nate McLouth is a lot of things, but a leadoff hitter isn’t one of them. He has a career OBP of .337, but don’t let facts get in your way. Plus, why would we voluntarily reduce the number of plate appearances of our best hitter. The lineup should be Prado, Jones, Heyward, McCann, Uggla, Freeman, Gonzalez, McLouth.

DoogieDawgs

April 1st, 2011
12:07 am

I believe Bobby is still a paid consultant for the Braves, so he played his role.

As to lineup, Fredie has R,L,S,L,R,L — makes sense, and takes some pressure off JHey.

big o

April 1st, 2011
12:38 am

I like our lineup. I think Nate is the key and In his walk year I think he will produce. If Nate is hitting I would move Prado to the two hole. Thats the only change I would make but only if Nate is hitting.

JASon

April 1st, 2011
2:39 am

Can we stop talking about our old manager? I am so sick of hearing about him, he sucks. I hate him and I wish we could just move on

KakNiqueTree

April 1st, 2011
3:38 am

all those first basemen…The Fred McGriff Curse? harhar

Year of the Chop

April 1st, 2011
4:18 am

bobby cox is still a consultant. he has every right to be in that office letting Fredi know whats up, any manager would be ignorant not to hear what that man has to say. Bobby knew/knows his stuff. and the comment about how squeeze plays don’t work anymore, ill go ahead and say that from day 1 of baseball, SMALL BALL wins games. yes the 3-run homer is nice but to win a game more times than not the squeeze play, the hit and runs, the sac bunts, the ABC baseball style of baseball will win you the games, don’t be surprised to see Fredi pull out all if not more of the listed plays! GO BRAVES!!!!!!

Paddy

April 1st, 2011
7:01 am

hey its franklyn……….the game of baseball has not changed. It has always been a combination of using your players strengths and the inclinations of your manager. The game is so simple but it always has the apperance of being a “puzzle palace” when the manager decides he knows he can beat you playing it his way. Bobby was a master at it!

Hit A Single

April 1st, 2011
8:03 am

Braves need a hitting coach. 2 runs will not get it done. At least TP can’t be blamed. Just kidding, Braves offense will pick up. Hernandez always gives us fits. Go Braves, good way to start the season.

Let's Go

April 1st, 2011
8:26 am

No matter what Bobby Cox does he can’t get a break from some of you people. Yeah, the guy was at spring training but you have to know that he is professional enough to not offer his opinion or advise unless asked by the new manager and if there was a problem don’t you think the first rate crackerjack staff of the AJC would have made a big deal about it. Bobby and Fredi are most likely good friends and I would bet they will talk many time during this and future seasons.

As far as the line-up goes, I like everything except Freeman batting in front of the pitcher because as a rookie I don’t know if he is disciplined enough to take pitches since they will at times pitch around him with the pitcher up next. I think Nate will stay in the 2 spot as long as he produces and I would imagine he gets 3 or 4 weeks to prove last year was a fluke or at that point he get’s moved down to maybe the 8th spot in the line-up and Jason or Gonzo will go to 2nd or maybe Freeman get’s a shot to bat high in the order.

dean

April 1st, 2011
8:27 am

Enter your comments here

dean

April 1st, 2011
8:28 am

Hey JASon @ 0239.

You must live a miserable life.

historyman

April 1st, 2011
8:32 am

Hooray! Go, Braves! Yipee! Yahoo! Etc.

Hit A Single

April 1st, 2011
8:45 am

As much as I like Heyward, Posey was definitley Rookie of the Year. I don’t believe the Giants win it without him. Look at how he led the Giants in stats. No comparison. Heyward was too inconsistent. Injuries contributed but the award doesn’t have an asterik and say oh I am sorry he was hurt.

phil

April 1st, 2011
8:48 am

A nice start to the year! I doubt Bobby is getting in the way. He has more sense than that. Assuming I’m right, it’s very, very decent of Fredi to let him hang around this much and still feel like a part of the team. Seriously, it’s a grand gesture and it probably is useful on some level to have to turn to now and then for an idea. I consider us blessed to have them both…

phil

April 1st, 2011
8:49 am

…to have HIM to turn to…i meant to say.

Larry

April 1st, 2011
8:51 am

Freddie: “Hello Bobby!”

Bobby: “Are you there yet?”

Freddie: “Just about to get out of the cab.”

Bobby: “Can I offer a suggestion for the game?”

Freddie: “Hello! Hello! Can you hear me? HELLO?” Click….baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

Well managed game…perhaps there’s hope for the postseason again.

JoeBravesFan

April 1st, 2011
9:02 am

It’s gonna be a GREAT year to be a Braves fan! LET’S GO BRAVES!!!!

EB

April 1st, 2011
9:17 am

The Braves have an awesome first win, and STILL people are griping? Come on!! The lineup worked just fine yesterday. WE WON THE GAME. So what if it was only 2 runs, that’s all we needed to win. That also shows how stellar our defense was. There are too many negative nancy’s out there. So what if Bobby visits, and talks to Fredi. As someone stated before, he IS a paid consultant of the organization so he is going to help in any way he can, and has every right to do so. Even if/when the Braves go all the way and get that World Title this year, there will still be plenty of people acting like coaches saying how they would have done things differently. There is a reason these guys are professionals and you are not. Keep your day jobs and let the big boys do theirs. Rant over :)

DC

April 1st, 2011
9:24 am

Some of you BC bashers are way out of line…my goodness..he brought us a championship and many great solid years..Yeah I would have liked more ’ships but I would also like halle berry….

carlchamblee

April 1st, 2011
9:28 am

Hopefully Bobby won’t hang around the clubhouse like he did all spring. It’s bad form.

Let the new guy do his job.

Fredi needs to wake up re: McLouth. The guy stinks. Him batting in the 2 spot is an affront to God and man.

Jesse Stone

April 1st, 2011
9:45 am

BC isn’t even manager anymore and you’re still trying to give him suggestions. What LOSERS!

D man

April 1st, 2011
9:46 am

A complete win yesterday. Solid defense, good offense, great pitching, and great coaching. GO BRAVES!!!

David O'Brien

April 1st, 2011
9:47 am

Hopefully Bobby won’t hang around the clubhouse like he did all spring. It’s bad form. — carlchamblee

I must’ve been in a different clubhouse than you were in all spring, because I saw Bobby Cox walk through the clubhouse a couple of times in the first few weeks of camp, then once the rest of spring. Perhaps 4-5 times in seven weeks. No one connected to the team thought it was “bad form” whatsoever.

Braves fan in Missouri

April 1st, 2011
9:51 am

It is amazing how some people that have been in MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL for over 30 years think BC is a great manager, but people that sat the bench in LITTLE LEAGUE think he is horrible.

David O'Brien

April 1st, 2011
9:55 am

Braves fan in Missouri: well said.

Braves fan in Missouri

April 1st, 2011
10:18 am

DOB:
Sorry to vent because I do enjoy reading most of the comments on here.

51WTGW50

April 1st, 2011
10:21 am

Road WIN. We need a LOT more of these type of wins. Road Worriers are Pennant winners.

Jesse Stone

April 1st, 2011
10:23 am

51WTGW50

April 1st, 2011
10:21 am
Road WIN. We need a LOT more of these type of wins. Road Worriers are Pennant winners
_______________________________________________________________________________

NO!!! We don’t want to be Road “Worriers”

51WTGW50

April 1st, 2011
10:24 am

Brave Mizzu
If I could sit on that BENCH that they gave Bobby upon retirement I would be a baseball god just from the osmosis of real Baseball gods that Bench was made of. LOL

51WTGW50

April 1st, 2011
10:26 am

Jesse
SORRY
I just saw it. WARRIORS. Damnit I should have typed WARRIORS. Sorry I am a TECH fan so no you know why that came out Road Worriers. LOL

Braves fan in Missouri

April 1st, 2011
10:27 am

Of course the Braves need a lot more wins, it was only the first game!!!

Bill

April 1st, 2011
10:35 am

Enough is enough..both sides need to cool it…life goes on..We Won. GO BRAVES !

Braves fan in Missouri

April 1st, 2011
10:45 am

Thank goodness we did win. Could you imagine the repercussions of a lose?

Realist

April 1st, 2011
11:14 am

Bobby must have given Fredi a tip about using every pitcher in the ‘pen, every day. Dang, 5 pitchers? None of them can go for, say, 3 innings?

ramblingman

April 1st, 2011
11:25 am

“No, it makes no sense, Steve. This is not slow pitch softball. Why is Chipper batting third? Nate McLouth is a lot of things, but a leadoff hitter isn’t one of them. He has a career OBP of .337, but don’t let facts get in your way. Plus, why would we voluntarily reduce the number of plate appearances of our best hitter. The lineup should be Prado, Jones, Heyward, McCann, Uggla, Freeman, Gonzalez, McLouth”

George Stein – first, it makes perfect sense. What makes no sense is that you think you know more than people who are actual baseball people and who are there every day and see tons of things you and I don’t. Plus, they actually have knowledge.

You ask why is Chipper batting third? You ask that after he got two hits and scored the first run? Maybe you need to work on your timing along with your knowledge of things baseball.

You whine about McLouth batting leadoff and then you actually say “don’t let facts get in your way.” That is hilarious, considering you haven’t updated your crying. Maybe you should pay attention. Prado batted leadoff.

You really need to work on the whining. It’s funny and entertaining, but you’re just dead wrong.

ramblingman

April 1st, 2011
11:27 am

“Bobby must have given Fredi a tip about using every pitcher in the ‘pen, every day. Dang, 5 pitchers? None of them can go for, say, 3 innings?”

Moylan threw all of 4 pitches. Venters threw 7. I think they’ll be alright.

atlantamelo

April 1st, 2011
11:34 am

It’s so sad. All of the negative comments after a great win. It’s unfortunately a reflection of how y’all live your lives. Negative, Negative, Negative. I don’t know why I bother to read these posts.

jim

April 1st, 2011
11:40 am

“well managed game — perhaps there’s hope for post season again.”

The moves to let EOF pitch to Morse, choose Moylan vs LH instead of EOF vs Hairston, and letting Venters pitch the 8th to RH hitters and Kimbrel the 9th to 2 lefties all worked out. If any or all of these moves had backfired would the second guessers be out in abundance and Robert pinning the TAIL ON HIS NEW DONKEY?

Jesse Stone

April 1st, 2011
11:44 am

jim- very well said.

katherine

April 1st, 2011
11:45 am

lol debbie downers just get over it….we won…next…..

carlchamblee

April 1st, 2011
11:51 am

DOB – Chipper was the one who said Bobby was around all the time in spring training. Take it up with him not me.

jim

April 1st, 2011
12:14 pm

Suppose Fredi had gone with Moylan to pitch to Morse? Assuming Moylan gets Morse, then in the 7th you have a lefty, a switch hitter, and 2 lefties on the bench. The choice is either start the inning with Moylan and hope for the best, pitch Venters for 2 innings (we don’t want to go there already) or rely upon the dynamic duo — Sherril and Linebrink to get through the 7th. leaving EOF to pitch to Morse was risky, but it avoided a possible bigger risk in the 7th. Fredi’s “strategy” might say more about his confidence in the dynamic duo than anything else.

deb

April 1st, 2011
12:44 pm

Hey Katherine, don’t take my name in vain to describe those whiners, lol, how about diana downers?!

Realist

April 1st, 2011
1:38 pm

ramblingman, that’s kinda my point. Why only use a guy for one inning once he’s warmed up? Hell, I’ve seen Moylan pitch 3 innings before, so why only 4 pitches.

Anyway, don’t count me as being negative – love the Braves and Fredi, and love the W!

Braves fan in Missouri

April 1st, 2011
2:02 pm

Does anyone think it was pretty cold in DC yesterday and that might be the reason the relievers did not go back out for more then one inning? Just another point of view.

63 year Braves fan

April 1st, 2011
2:02 pm

I like the way Fredi managed the game. He took Lowe out before the horse got out of the barn.
Bobby always waited till the damage was done. Lowe will usually give you 5 good innings but
unravels quickly in the 6th or 7th inning. The 6th inning is the most dangerous in baseball. Starters
are beginning to weaken and hitters have adjusted to their stuff. I would still prefer hitting Heyward
4th and McCann 6th. Mac hits into too many double plays to kill innings as he did again yesterday.

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