Jair Jurrjens reported no problems with his right oblique after pitching six solid innings against the Triple-A Norfolk Tides in a rehabilitation outing Monday night.
Now he’s got his wish – an end in sight. Jurrjens is on track to make his 2011 debut for the Braves Saturday night against the Mets.
“I felt good,” Jurrjens said. “I didn’t even think about (the oblique). I just tried to think about the hitters and throw strikes….I’m ready to go.”
Jurrjens gave up two runs on four hits, walked two and struck out three to earn the win 8-3 over the Tides. He threw 81 pitches, including 48 for strikes.
He gave up maybe three hard-hit balls, on a double by Nick Green and a long flyout and a solo home run by Nolan Reimold. Norfolk’s cleanup hitter took advantage of a hanging 2-1 slider for a home run to left in the fourth inning.
He gave up a triple but on a groundball down the line that got stuck along the fence in the right field corner. And Green’s double was misplayed in the outfield.
Jurrjens appeared to get stronger as the game went on too, retiring nine in a row to finish his outing. He needed only 12 pitches in a clean fifth inning and 11 in the sixth.
“You’re excited just to be out there again, to be in a real game,” said Jurrjens, who thought he was rushing early on. “You try to pump up and try to do too much. The last three innings I settled down and just tried to hit my spot and trusted the grip and throw it for a strike.”
Jurrjens has not pitched in a game for the Braves since last Sept. 14 against the Nationals. He missed the rest of September and the postseason with a knee injury, which required arthroscopic surgery during the offseason.
“Since we got to the playoffs and I wasn’t able to pitch, I’m really excited to get on the mound and try to help this team and be part of the team again,” Jurrjens said.
Monday was his first real game action since March 24 when he had to leave a spring training outing against the Blue Jays after one inning. He pitched a simulated game in Gwinnett last Wednesday.
Jurrjens was pitching in front of only a few hundred fans at Coolray Field Monday night. At one point, before the start of the fourth inning, Jurrjens had to wait for a young couple from Buford to finish getting engaged in first base foul territory, before he could take the mound.
But he said his adrenaline was high.
“I really tried to take the game really serious,” Jurrjens said. “I know these guys are playing for a ring too. I didn’t want to just come here and try to work on my stuff and not worry about them. I tried to take this like I’m pitching in the big league and try to win the game.”
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez and pitching coach Roger McDowell made the trip up to watch him Monday night with the Braves off before opening a series with the Marlins on Tuesday. They were seated four rows up behind home plate in street clothes.
Jurrjens had two rocky innings – giving up a run each in the second and fourth innings – but otherwise faced the minimum in the remaining four innings.
Green, a former Brave infielder and Duluth native who is making a comeback from shoulder surgery in the Orioles organization, doubled to left in what might have been simply a single if left fielder Willie Cabrera hadn’t lost the ball in the sun and taken a bad route.