Archive for March, 2011

Schafer, Hernandez among latest roster cuts

DUNEDIN, Fla. — Outfielder Jordan Schafer and infielder Diory Hernandez were optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett on Thursday along with pitchers Mike Minor, Juan Abreu and Jairo Asencio.

That left 33 active players on the Braves’ active camp roster, with eight cuts still to be made before opening day.

The Hernandez move would seem to increase the likelihood that infielder/outfielder Ed Lucas makes the team, since the Braves need a backup shortstop and he has plenty of minor league experience at the position.

Eric Hinske and David Ross are assured of two bench jobs, and infielder Brooks Conrad is likely to get one of the other three spots for the power he provides and his performance in key late-innings situations last season.

Corner infielder/outfielder Joe Mather has a good shot at a bench job despite his poor spring. Mather is out of minor-league options, and another team would likely claim him if the Braves tried to get him through waivers in order to send him to …

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Uggla’s first homer for the Braves is a game-winner

DUNEDIN, Fla. – It took him 58 at-bats, but Dan Uggla finally hit a home run for the Braves. And it was a mighty blow.

The slugging second baseman hit a towering, three-run homer in the sixth inning of the Braves’ 5-3 Grapefruit League win against the Toronto Blue Jays Thursday at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium.

“He crushed that ball,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said of Uggla’s homer, which capped a five-run inning against left-hander Brett Cecil. “That kid was pretty good, too. He’s throwing a high fastball, good changeup, good breaking ball. He had us baffled.

“I don’t know if fatigue got him or what. He threw a high [fastball] to Danny, and that’s why [Uggla] is here — all of a sudden you go from two down to three up with a couple of swings of the bat.”

The Braves traded for Uggla in November and signed him to a five-year, $62 million contract extension before he ever suited up for them. Gonzalez had Uggla on his Florida teams the past four seasons.

Before Uggla’s …

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Beachy wins job, but Jurrjens’ health in question

DUNEDIN, Fla. – Brandon Beachy won the Braves’ fifth-starter job over Mike Minor, but Jair Jurrjens’ sore side could possibly open another spot for Minor in the rotation.

Jurrjens left with what the Braves said was “discomfort in his right side” after pitching one inning Thursday in a 5-3 win against the Toronto Blue Jays. He said it was probably just a cramp and not a muscle injury, but the Braves must wait to make that determination.

“It’s still too early to tell,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “Sometimes those things manifest themselves a little bit later. Maybe nothing happens; we took him out right now as a precaution. We’ll see what happens. It’s too late in the spring to mess with it.

“He said he felt something and that was it. Get him out of there and we’ll evaluate tomorrow.”

If Jurrjens isn’t ready to begin the season, the Braves could go with Beachy as their No. 4  starter and Minor as No. 5. Or, if they’re not comfortable with …

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Lowe’s taken rookie pitcher under his wing

DUNEDIN, Fla. — Three things you might not know about Derek Lowe: He drives a Porsche Panamera four-door sports car that’s the envy of most teammates; he’ll be a featured player in an episode of Donald Trump’s Fabulous World of Golf” that airs Monday, and he’s become a mentor to Braves rookie lefty Mike Minor.

For our purposes, let’s focus on the latter. Yes, D-Lowe has taken young Minor under his figurative wing, and talk about an odd couple….

It's easy to forget that Minor was pitching at Vanderbilt just two years ago.

It's easy to forget that Minor was pitching at Vanderbilt just two years ago.

“I like talking to younger guys, just like when I was young and [veterans] would talk to me about what they thought I needed to do, and the importance of routines between starts, and then mental side of the game,” said Lowe, 37..

Those who’ve only heard of the goofball side of Lowe – he really is a bit of a whackjob, but in a good way – might be surprised to hear that he took it upon himself to counsel the 23-year-old Minor, who was 10 when Lowe debuted in …

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Sherrill looks shaky; Minor’s start moved back

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Eyebrows are surely being raised in some quarters over George Sherrill’s spring performance.

The Braves’ veteran left-hander blew a 3-1 lead by allowing three runs, four hits and two walks in the seventh inning Wednesday against Florida, his third rocky outing in eight this spring.

Team officials have downplayed his struggles.

“Just one of those spring-training outings,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “Nothing to over-react over. He’s pitched pretty good until today.”

Sherrill pitched a scoreless inning in four of his five appearances before Wednesday, when he surrendered a leadoff walk, two double, two singles, and also hit a batter.

After posting a career-worst 6.69 ERA in 65 appearances for the Dodgers last season, Sherrill has allowed 13 hits, seven runs and five walks in eight innings this spring.

Hudson, Hanson results differ

Two of Atlanta’s top three starting pitchers pitched Wednesday, and Tommy Hanson didn’t fare as well against Braves …

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Chipper: After lean years, Braves’ swagger is back

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – The Braves have an odd 14-9-4 record (four ties) in Grapefruit League play, which isn’t nearly as important as something else that Chipper Jones said they have.

“We feel like we have confidence that when we walk out there on the field, we expect to win,” Jones said Wednesday after an 11-inning, 4-4 tie with the Florida Marlins. “That’s a good feeling to have. That’s a feeling we had for the first 12 years I was here. Kind of lost it for a couple of years, but that winning mentality is starting to come back.

“It all starts with our pitching. Our pitchers give us quality starts and we play defense behind them, get some timely hits, it’s a good formula for a lot of W’s.”

Nate McLouth had two hits, rookies Freddie Freeman and Brandon Hicks homered, and Tim Hudson pitched six solid innings Wednesday as the Braves moved to within one week of their March 31 season opener at Washington.

They used their projected regular lineup – what Jones called “Full Metal …

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Salazar returns, 2 weeks after catastrophic eye injury

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – For those who saw Luis Salazar unconscious on the dugout floor two weeks ago, seeing him back at spring training Wednesday, talking about returning to managing in a few weeks, was remarkable.

The Braves minor league manager returned to Champion Stadium eight days after surgery to remove his left eye, irreparably damaged when he was struck by a foul ball off the bat of Brian McCann during a March 9 game.

Salazar was back at Braves camp Wednesday, two weeks after being struck in the face by a foul ball that cost him his left eye. (Photo by David O'Brien)

Salazar was back at Braves camp Wednesday, two weeks after being struck in the face by a foul ball that cost him his left eye. (Photo by David O'Brien)

“I’d like to thank God I’m talking to you guys and that I’m alive,” said Salazar, 54, who was unconscious for at least 20 minutes. “God gave me a second chance in this world, and I’m going to take advantage of it. I really appreciate it.”

The former major league infielder has been told he could return as in another three to five weeks to his job as manager of the high-Class A Lynchburg (Va.) affiliate. …

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Roster spots still undecided; Salazar in camp today

Luis Salazar was back in camp today, two weeks after being struck in face by a foul ball and eight days after surgery to remove his left eye. (David O'Brien photo)

Luis Salazar was back in camp today, two weeks after being struck in face by a foul ball and eight days after surgery to remove his left eye. (David O'Brien photo)

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – So we’re down to the last week, and most of the position battles we anticipated entering spring training are still up for grabs. At least to some degree.

Fifth starter; last bullpen spot, and the last couple of bench jobs. All still undecided (I say last couple of bench jobs, because Joe Mather has been pretty much a lock to make the team since the Braves signed him, long as he showed he was healthy this spring.)

Salazar

Salazar

Before we get to that, we just got news this morning: Luis Salazar will be in camp today, the first time the Braves minor league manager been back to Champion Stadium since suffering a catrastrophic eye injury after being hit by a foul ball in a March 9 game.

Salazar had to have his left eye removed after surgeons were unable to save it. He and the Braves still expect that …

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Braves to retire Cox’s No. 6 on Aug. 12

Bobby Cox will have his No. 6 jersey retired on Aug. 12, the same day the iconic former Braves manager will be inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame.

Cox, who retired after the 2010 season, will be inducted into the Braves Hall of Fame during an Aug. 12 luncheon and have his jersey retired during a ceremony before that night’s game against the Chicago Cubs at Turner Field.

“Bobby Cox exemplifies the Braves organization,” said Braves president John Schuerholz, who served as the team’s general manager for much of Cox’s tenure as manager. “Inducting him into our Hall of Fame and retiring his legendary number 6 is fitting recognition for a man who has done so much for our organization, our great game, and the city of Atlanta.”

Cox’s No. 6 will be the eighth Braves uniform number retired, joining those of Hank Aaron (44), Eddie Mathews (41), Dale Murphy (3), Phil Niekro (35), Warren Spahn (21), Greg Maddux (31), and Tom Glavine (47). All major league teams also retired the number …

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Braves to retire Bobby Cox’s No. 6 in August – updated

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – The Braves will retire former manager Bobby Cox’s No. 6 jersey and induct him into the Braves Hall of Fame on Friday Aug. 12, which they are dubbing “Bobby Cox Day,” the team announced on Tuesday.

Cox will be honored in a luncheon that afternoon and his jersey will be retired that night before the Braves play the Chicago Cubs.

“I’m honored, I’m humbled,” Cox said Tuesday. “I honestly don’t know if I belong up there with those numbers.”

Cox’s number will be retired along the left field façade at Turner Field along with those of his former players Greg Maddux (31), Tom Glavine (47), Dale Murphy (3) and Phil Niekro (35). It will be the eighth number retired by the Braves organization, including Hank Aaron (44), Eddie Mathews (41), Warren Spahn (21). Jackie Robinson’s No. 42 is also retired, as with all major league teams.

“Bobby Cox exemplifies the Braves organization,” Braves president John Schuerholz said in a statement. “Inducting him into our Hall of …

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