Archive for May, 2011

Braves postgame quotes following Tuesday’s loss to Padres

FREDI GONZALEZ

On Minor:

“You hate to nitpick. If you had to nitpick, that leadoff walk in the seventh is the one that…especially with a left-handed hitter, but you know what, I told him he did a hell of a job, and both outings the one in Pittsburgh and the one here tonight, it was good. He kept us in the ballgame. That seventh inning didn’t quite go the way we wanted it to go. We were behind the eight-ball coming out of there but we were one-run down there in the ninth.”

On Gearrin:

“That’s the guy we wanted. Last night we threw him in the eighth inning and he got three guys out. We wanted that guy to get the ground ball and he kept with those right-handers coming up, those groundballs were going not right at the infielders….(His sinker) wasn’t sinking tonight, but he’s the guy we wanted there.”

On if Jones’ hits might give team a lift:

“Yeah, this here is the old-timer got two big RBIs. That’s what we need. We feel like we’ve got to put a crooked number up. We did it once …

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McCann trails Posey in NL All-Star balloting

Braves catcher Brian McCann has made the National League All-Star team five times in his first five full seasons in the major leagues with the Braves, but he’s never been voted in as a starter.

In the first NL All-Star balloting released on Tuesday afternoon, he was trailing Giants catcher Buster Posey by about 150,000 votes and was the Brave closest to first place. Posey had 785,314 votes to McCann’s 633,987. Posey suffered a broken leg in a collision at home plate last week and is expected to miss the remainder of the 2011 season.

Even if Posey, the reigning NL rookie of the year and Leesburg, Ga. native, wins the vote, McCann will still likely make the team as a player or manager’s choice and could still start. The starter would be up to the discretion of NL All-Star manager Bruce Bochy, who managed Posey and the Giants to the World Series championship last fall.

Chipper Jones was second in third-base voting behind the Phillies’ Placido Polanco with 540,168 votes to …

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Medlen ready for live bp, possible early return from surgery

Kris Medlen came away from a 90-pitch bullpen session Tuesday afternoon feeling good and ready to take the next step in his return from elbow reconstruction surgery – a big one. Next up, he’ll start facing hitters in live batting practice.

Medlen will head to the Braves complex in Orlando to throw batting practice in extended spring training. If all goes well in six or seven sessions every other day or so, Medlen will be ready for a minor league rehabilitation stint.

“I’ve been anxious the entire time, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and it’s getting close,” said Medlen, who underwent “Tommy John” surgery on Aug. 18, 2010.

The Braves are building him up to return as a starter, which he would be on track to do by mid-to-late August. But if needs call for it, Medlen could return as a reliever, as soon as late July to early August.

“If we need him as a reliever, it’s easier to back him off,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “So maybe end of July, best-case …

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Struggling Uggla out of Braves lineup again

Dan Uggla missed only four starts at second base all last season with the Marlins, so it was no small thing for him to sit out his second start in the past seven games as a Brave Tuesday night.

That’s how deep Uggla’s slump has gotten. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez sat Uggla for the second time in a week to try to break up this hitless pattern he has going.

“Just give him a little breather,” Gonzalez said, who did the same thing May 24 at Pittsburgh.

Since hitting a game-winning home run against Roy Halladay on May 15, Uggla went 4-for-47 (.035) with one RBI and no extra-base hits in 13 games. He knew he didn’t have much room to argue when Gonzalez told him Tuesday afternoon he was out of the lineup.

“It’s very hard,” said Uggla, whose season average was down to .178. “I don’t like not playing, but it’s what he thought was best for the team. I couldn’t talk my way back into the lineup today.”

Uggla went 0-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts in Monday’s loss. He hadn’t hit the …

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Braves aim for flourish finish to strong month of May

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

So here we are, May 31st – welcome back to the daily grind for those of you coming off a nice, long Memorial Day weekend break.

The Braves started the month of May so well, 12-4 including two series wins over the Phillies. Then came that 1-4 west coast swing that seemed to put a damper on things.

The Braves have won two series in a row over the Pirates and Reds, yet losing yesterday to the Padres 3-2 in 10 innings had to be deflating. The offensive futility is starting to wear on this team some. It’s like the Braves need one of those days where hits come easy, just to take some of the pressure off.

Even when the Braves win, they’re not scoring runs. They’re getting incredible pitching efforts, like from Jair Jurrjens on Sunday night. (More on Jurrjens in a second.) The Braves’ 2.83 ERA in May leads the major leagues. And let’s not forget yesterday when reliever Jonny Venters got another one of his bases …

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Braves quotes after Monday’s loss to Padres

***FREDI GONZALEZ

On Hudson

“I thought he was outstanding. We didn’t misplay the ball but we couldn’t get that double play with the pitcher over there at second base, which was a tough play coming in on it. And that run scored. But he was outstanding.

“He hasn’t pitched in nine days and to come back and give us six innings…. We were tempted to run him back out there for another inning, but we chose to err on the side of caution. He hadn’t pitched in nine days. Build on this start for the next one. That was [typical] Huddy tonight.”

On the replay of Schafer’s steal

“I didn’t see it, but the guys came out saying they think he got in there. For me that’s the hardest call for the umpires, second base steal, the tag. I don’t know why. It’s one of the hardest ones to get right. But that wasn’t the game. We had some opportunities. We had couple guys on in the eighth inning, a couple guys on in the sixth inning, we couldn’t get a knock in there to get a couple runs.”

On stranding …

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Beachy throws off mound Monday

Brandon Beachy threw from the mound Monday for the first time since straining his left oblique against the Phillies on May 13. He threw 20 pitches, all fastballs, at 70-75 percent.

“Felt good,” Beachy said. “It loosened up. By the end of the 20 pitches I was going back to caring about where the ball is going instead of trying to feel each throw. So that was refreshing to let myself slip back into that and not feel anything.”

Beachy might not be back for a few weeks yet, as he has to build up his arm strength and make a minor league rehab start or two. The Braves don’t need a fifth starter after Mike Minor goes Tuesday until June 11 in Houston.

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Medlen progressing on fast track from elbow surgery

Kris Medlen wasn’t expected to return from elbow reconstruction surgery until mid to late August, but the way he’s progressing right now there’s a chance it could be even sooner.

Medlen has suffered no major setbacks in his recovery, which typically requires 12 months. He’s begun mixing in his curveballs in his bullpen sessions. He’s scheduled to throw a 90-pitch side session on Tuesday and if all goes well could be throwing live batting practice by the end of the week.

“It’s close,” said Medlen, who would likely go to extended spring training when the Braves hit the road Friday. “I can’t wait until the official test to see if my stuff is just as good as before, so I can see people trying to swing at it. It feels good; I just don’t know if it’s actually good or not.”

Once Medlen starts throwing live batting practice, he’ll build up like Braves pitchers do in spring training and eventually work up to minor league rehabilitation games. The versatile Medlen could come back as a …

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Talk with Chipper helps Schafer identify as leadoff hitter

Two years after going to Chipper Jones for help out of the slump that would eventually land him back in the minor leagues, Jordan Schafer went back to the veteran third baseman for advice on how to get back to the major leagues.

Schafer points to a conversation he had with Jones in spring training about what he needed to do to establish himself as a leadoff hitter that has helped him come into his own. It’s paying off now in his return to the majors after two years since his slump and subsequent wrist surgery.

Schafer has reached base safely in each of his first six games in center field starting in place of the injured Nate McLouth. Entering Monday, he had two bunt singles, four walks, and had scored the winning run in extra innings on Saturday night and the tying run on Martin Prado’s go-ahead two-run homer on Sunday night.

“I told him flat out you don’t make enough contact to hit up in the lineup here,” said Jones, who encouraged Schafer to hit the ball on the ground and …

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At Turner Field, Prado is very big

In the large and exuberant throng of baseball fans that surrounded the ESPN broadcast setup after last night’s game at Turner Field – yes, it was a throng, and an exuberant one — there were several handwritten signs proclaiming love for Martin Prado, one suggesting he run for president, and another that said, “The Devil Wears Prado.”

Prado's two-run homer was all the offense the Braves and Jurrjens needed in 2-1 win Sunday.

Prado's two-run homer was all the offense the Braves and Jurrjens needed in 2-1 win Sunday.

I don’t know what that meant, exactly — other than the obvious movie reference –  but it was cool. And it was fun. And just another symbol of the growing infatuation between so many Braves fans and the selfless left fielder, who has come to represent, for many, the epitome of “team player” in an age when it seems such a species has become endangered.

Throwback player. Old school. There’s no “I” in team – or in Prado. All of it applies, folks. He’s the real deal. No pretense, no hype. His quotes are not carefully worded to mold some impossibly good image of …

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