Archive for March, 2011

Mather clears waivers; Opening Day lineup announced

Joe Mather came to Braves camp a favorite to win a utility spot after the Braves claimed him off waivers from the Cardinals, eager to see what he could do after two years battling a hand and wrist injuries.

He wound up back on waivers though, after he failed to show the Braves much with his bat. Mather, who hit .137 (7-for-51) this spring, cleared waivers on Tuesday and was outrighted to Triple-A Gwinnett. From there he still figures into the Braves plans, if he can turn a corner offensively.

“We like him,” Braves general manager Frank Wren said. “We think he’s a good fit for our ball club. We’ve just got to get some additional work in offensively, which we’ve made him aware of and he’s aware of. He didn’t have a good offensive spring, but he did all the other things that we hoped he would do, which is play multiple positions and play them well.”

Mather will see action at first and third base and all three outfield positions in Gwinnett, while trying to …

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Braves are playing it cautious with Jurrjens; Teheran to Gwinnett?

The Braves returned home to Turner Field Tuesday night for the first of two exhibition games against the Twins, with their Opening Day roster pretty well set and their Opening Day lineup in action, with the exception of David Ross batting for the pitcher.

The one lingering question is the health of Jair Jurrjens and whether he’ll be able to make his first scheduled start on April 6 in Milwaukee. It’s a decision the Braves won’t rush to make.

Originally Jurrjens planned to throw a bullpen session on Monday, but the Braves are playing it cautious with the sore right side which forced Jurrjens out of his last spring training start Thursday against the Blue Jays.

Jurrjens threw some long toss in the outfield during batting practice Tuesday and then moved closer in to throw from 60 feet or so, but still on flat ground. He appeared not to have any problems, though he wasn’t immediately available for comment afterward.

“He’s progressing well,” Braves general manager …

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Braves back at Ted, Freeman’s pop, new MLB concussion policy and more

 

 

 

The Braves boys are back in town

The Braves boys are back in town

 

 

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

Hey, hey, hey! No dateline to write just now. Got a newly-made scorebook waiting on me at Kinko’s and getting ready to drive down to Turner Field for the first of two exhibition games at The Ted: Braves vs. Twins.

It’s here, people. Two more exhibition games in the next 36 hours or so, weather-permitting – Wednesday could be ugly – and Opening Day is upon us.

I’m sure the players and coaches really benefitted from having the rainout last night to get back from Orlando and situated, now the idea is to get a couple at-bats/innings tonight and tomorrow and get on to Washington for Thursday’s opener without incident.

Manager Fredi Gonzalez has said he’ll throw all seven relievers tonight for the bullpen, so they can get their tune-up, and have a day off before the opener. Then he’ll pitch both Brandon Beachy and Rodrigo Lopez three to four innings …

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Chipper Q&A, Pt. 2: Of fans, family, retirement, Hall of Fame, and more

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Entering his 18th season in the majors,  Chipper Jones is again a focus of attention as the soon-to-be 39-year-old third baseman attempts to come back from major knee surgery, the second of his career.

Since the beginning of the 1995 season, he ranks among major league leaders in many major offensive categories with 2,488 hits (fifth), 1,503 runs (fourth), 436 home runs (eighth, tie), 1,491 RBIs (fourth), 1,403 walks (third) and 492 doubles (fifth).

Chipper Jones is beginning his 18th season with the Braves, the longest any current player has been with one team. (Jason Getz photo/AJC)

Chipper Jones is beginning his 18th season with the Braves, the longest any current player has been with one team. (Jason Getz photo/AJC)

Jones has had one of the best spring trainings of his career, and is determined to defy skeptics who didn’t think he’d make it back — or doubted he could still be an integral part of a winning club if he did return. He said his surgically repaired knee has been pain-free for three weeks.

We sat down for a candid, wide-ranging Q&A before the team left spring …

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Braves’ Florida finale rained out

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The Florida portion of the Braves’ spring-training schedule ended with a rainout Monday night, so the team got back to Atlanta several hours sooner than expected.

They were pleased for the extra time at home, since the Braves will play exhibition games against Minnesota at Turner Field Tuesday night and Wednesday before flying to Washington to open the regular season on Thursday. It’s a busy stretch.

Manager Fredi Gonzalez said the rainout didn’t hamper the Braves. They planned to play regulars only a couple of innings and use minor league pitchers Monday against Washington before the game was called nearly five hours prior to the scheduled start.

“We haven’t lost a day of spring training [before this],” Gonzalez said. “The guys that were going to play were just going to get one at-bat. None of the [roster] pitchers were going to pitch. So it doesn’t do anything except gives us a little breather.”

Gonzalez said the Braves …

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Chipper Q&A: His past and future, on and off field

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Chipper Jones' 17 years of service with the Braves is the longest for any current major league player with one team.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – If Chipper Jones is not a lion in winter, he’s damn sure a lion in late autumn. He’ll be 39 in April and his 17 years of major league service with one team is the most for any active player, one more than the Yankees’ Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada, or Boston’s Tim Wakefield.

He’s an Atlanta icon, the longest-serving uniformed Brave now with Bobby Cox retired from managing. Jones ranks third among switch-hitters with 436 homers and second with a .306 average, and he leads the majors with 206 game-winning RBI since 1995.

Widely considered to be one of the two or three best players to ever wear an Atlanta Braves uniform, Jones will likely be elected into the Baseball Hall of Famer someday.

But for now, he’s got his sights set on immediate goals. Jones is coming off season-ending surgery in August to repair a …

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Braves trade for big, hard-throwing prospect

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – The Braves traded for hard-throwing prospect Billy Bullock from the Minnesota Twins in exchange for left-hander Scott Diamond, whom the Twins had taken from the  Braves in the December Rule 5 draft.

Because the Twins decided not to keep Diamond on their 25-man roster, they had to offer him back to the Braves for half of the original $50,000 claiming price, or work out a deal.

The teams swapped prospects and the Braves got Bullock, a 6-foot-6, 230-pound right-hander who had 27 saves and a 105 strikeouts in 74 innings last season with the Twins’ Class-A Fort Myers and Double-A New Britain affiliates.

Bullock, 23, features a slider and a fastball in the mid-90 mph range. He went 2-8 with a 3.53 ERA in 58 relief appearances, and allowed 73 hits and 43 walks. He ranked 11th in the minor leagues in saves and fourth in strikeouts among pitchers who worked solely in relief.

A second-round pick out of the University of Florida in 2009, Bullock …

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Kawakami’s next stop is Double-A Mississippi?

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Kenshin Kawakami gave up three runs and five hits in four innings of a 6-1 Grapefruit League loss to the Phillies on Sunday, then was re-assigned to minor league camp when the Braves announced their 25-man roster.

General manager Frank Wren said unless something chances – presumably a trade or injuries  – then reassigned starter Rodrigo Lopez would begin the season in the Triple-A Gwinnett rotation and Kawakami would start at Double-A Mississippi.

The 35-year-old is owed $6.67 million in the final season of a three-year contract, and his salary might be enough to pay two entire Double-A rosters in most cases.

Kawakami is 8-22 in two seasons since signing a $23 million deal with the Braves, including 1-10 last season when his ERA climbed from 3.86 to 5.15.

The Braves have been trying to trade Kawakami since last fall, and had interest from three Japanese League teams that might have picked up close to half of his salary. Kawakami told the Braves …

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If Jurrjens isn’t ready, Minor could replace him

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – The Braves are holding open a roster spot for starting pitcher Jair Jurrjens for the time being, but want to be more certain of his health before they include him on the finalized opening-day roster.

Three days after leaving a start with a sore right side, Jurrjens felt good when he tested it Sunday playing catch. He plans a more rigorous test with a bullpen session Monday.

“We did some light catch today just to see how it would respond,” Jurrjens said. “It responded good. We did all the tests we needed to do to try to figure out how severe it is, and I passed all of them. Just waiting to see what they want me to do.”

General manager Frank Wren said Jurrjens would have to pitch in a competitive game of some kind – not a simulated game — to satisfy team officials before he pitches in a major league game.

The tentative plan is for him to pitch in a minor-league spring training game Friday, which would put him on schedule to start Game 6 on …

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Young, Hicks in; Proctor released; Mather waived

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – A pair of long-time Braves minor leaguers came on strong to win bench jobs on the opening-day roster, while Joe Mather faltered and was placed on waivers and reliever Scott Proctor was released.

Those were among the flurry of personnel moves announced by the Braves on Sunday, when they presented an opening-day roster that included rookies Matt Young and Brandon Hicks on the bench and Cristhian Martinez in the last bullpen spot over Proctor.

Infielder Brooks Conrad will fill the other of three bench jobs that seemed undecided when spring training began, although manager Fredi Gonzalez said that, in his mind, Conrad was never competing for a job; he already had one.

“Brooks is a good bat off the bench,” Gonzalez said. “He hits from both sides. For me, he wasn’t in a position to be competing [for a job].”

The Braves announced their roster four days before their season opener at Washington and at least two days earlier than it was …

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