Archive for June, 2011

Braves quotes after Monday win over Mariners

***FREDI GONZALEZ

On Beachy having a nice outing

“Yeah, very nice. And a couple of other guys. McCann got three hits against a pretty tough left-hander. And Freddie Freeman. Nate made a helluva catch. Linebrink coming in to get a double-play ball. I think it was a pretty good performance team-wise, really.

“Beachy’s pitch count got a little high, if you’re going to nitpicking on certain stuff. But he was very good.”

20 strikeout in 12 innings since he returned from DL

“His fastball, he’s been able to command it. And he’s been able to throw a curveball, his breaking pitch, and then his changeup just keeps getting better and better.”

On Freeman’s impressive homer

“Especially for a young kid, and especially facing Bedard, a tough left-hander who’s been tough on left-handers. To hit a home run – him and Mac – but for Freddie to hit it to straightaway center in this ballpark, this is not a cheapie. You’ve got to hit it to get it out of here.”

On …

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For a day, Heyward is largest leadoff man?

SEATTLE – In their first visit to the Pacific Northwest since 2003, the Braves on Monday unveiled the largest leadoff man in the major leagues.

For the series opener against the Seattle Mariners, Jason Heyward was penciled in the leadoff spot for the first time in his big-league career.

Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez laughed when someone asked what hat he used to make out the lineup. As in, drawing players’ names from a hat.

“I used brain power,” he said. “I had some cod oil, supposed to be good for brain function.”

Just don’t expect the 6-foot-5, 248-pound right fielder to make many more starts there. Gonzalez explained that with the Brave facing a good left-hander, Erik Bedard, he wanted to give right-handed-hitting rookie backup Wilkin Ramirez a start.

Ramirez was in left field and Nate McLouth moved back over to center field in place of Jordan Schafer, who was 4-for-34 against lefties before Monday. Gonzalez indicated Schafer would be back in the …

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Hanson off DL Tuesday; McCann All-Star lead grows


SEATTLE — Tommy Hanson’s second bullpen session Sunday was better than the first two days earlier, and the Braves right-hander was excited about returning from the DL to start Tuesday.

He missed two starts recovering from rotator-cuff tendinitis in his pitching shoulder.

“It feels good,” Hanson said. “Just getting back my game. It’s been a couple of weeks. I just want to get back out there and hopefully pick up where I left off.”

He’s 8-4 with a 2.48 ERA that is the third-lowest among NL starters behind teammate Jair Jurrjens (2.07) and Phillies ace Roy Halladay (2.40).

Hanson is coming back without making a minor-league rehab start. After resting nearly a week, he’s thrown two flat-ground sessions and two bullpen sessions.

“I don’t think I took long enough off to have to make a rehab start,” he said. “The sooner I get back out there, for me, the better. Everything feels good. There shouldn’t be any problems.”

Schafer’s slipped

Center …

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Braves vs. Mariners: Someone’s gotta score

SEATTLE – The only major league team with a lower on-base percentage in June than the Braves (.288) is the Mariners (.277), and the two playoff contenders will start a series here tonight that could feature some awfully quick games.

The roof will be open when Atlanta faces the Mariners tonight in a series opener, only the Braves' second visit to Seattle.

The roof could be closed tonight when Atlanta faces the Mariners tonight in a series opener, only the Braves' second visit to Seattle. But even closed, it's not like other domes because it's open on sides, no walls and no air conditioning or heat.

Wait, did some get caught up on that “playoff contenders” phrase? I know, it might not seem possible at times – OK, a lot of times – but if the playoffs started today the Braves (44-35) would be in as the NL wild card.

The Mariners (39-39) are only 1-1/2 games behind AL West leader Texas.

That’s what exceptional pitching can do for a team, particularly in a year when parity is the rule throughout baseball.

The Braves have hit a league-worst .221 in June, including .202 in their past 14 games …

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Braves quotes after Sunday loss to Padres

***FREDI GONZALEZ

On Venters

“He’s human. We’ve come to expect perfection a little bit. Today it just didn’t happen. Needless to say, it’s tough to protect a one-run lead, to try to get six outs with a one-run lead. They got some stuff going that inning — they didn’t hit the ball very hard – and they got some runs.

“We weren’t able to add on. That happens sometimes, when you let a team keep hanging around. You’ve got to tip your hat to their pitchers. Two hits and one run. It’s hard to protect that kind of lead, no matter who you’ve got down there, Jonny or Kimbrel or any of those guys.”

On Hudson

“We’re going to get on that plane and feel bad about ourselves, that we let this one go and lost two out of three to San Diego. And not really appreciate Hudson’s performance today. Six shutout innings. He was outstanding. He’s got it rolling pretty good. Just couldn’t get the win for him.”

If Jonny makes the throw to first a little faster, maybe …

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Series preview: Braves at Mariners

Series preview: Braves at Mariners

When (TV): 10:10 p.m. Monday-Tuesday, 3:40 p.m. Wednesday (SPSO)

Radio: 680, 93.7, 100.5

Probable starting pitchers:

Monday: Braves RH Brandon Beachy (2-1, 3.22 ERA) vs. LH Erik Bedard (4-5, 2.93)

Tuesday: Braves RH Tommy Hanson (8-4, 2.48) vs. RH Michael Pineda (7-4, 2.45)

Wednesday: Braves RH Derek Lowe (3-6, 4.33) vs. RH Felix Hernandez (8-6, 3.19)

About the Braves:

• Batting: Entering Sunday, Brian McCann was ninth in the NL in slugging (.512) and ninth in OPS (.891), but two Braves regulars were in the league’s bottom five in on-base percentage: Dan Uggla (league-low .247) and Alex Gonzalez (.283)…. Chipper Jones’ .410 average with runners in scoring position was second in the NL before Sunday, behind Cincinnati’s Joey Votto (.435). Jones (.421) and McCann (.385) ranked fourth and sixth with runners in scoring position and two outs.

• Pitching: Beachy is 2-0 with a 2.18 ERA in his past six starts, …

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Move McCann from catcher? Ross says no

SAN DIEGO – So David Ross is in the lineup today, catching Tim Hudson’s start while Brian McCann gets a day off for this series finale against the Padres. This duo worked out well five days ago, you might recall.

So I got to thinking, today would be a good day to ask Ross about what is, to me, a misguided notion among some observers – not just fans but also some in the media – about playing Ross more and moving McCann to another position in order to try to keep him healthy and fresh.

A five-time All-Star and best-hitting catcher in the National League and arguably in the majors, McCann has also worked to improve his defense and game-calling skills over the years.

A five-time All-Star — soon to be six-time — and the best-hitting catcher in the National League and arguably the majors, McCann has worked to improve his defense and game-calling skills.

Because if Ross has a big game, especially if he has one like the two-homer game he had the last time he started a game here in San Diego back in April, there will invariably be plenty of blogs and Twitter comments about how the Braves need to play one of them at another position – any position – in …

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Braves quotes after Saturday win over Padres

***FREDI GONZALEZ

On out-hitting Padres 12-4, night after getting out-hit 12-4 by them

“I know we haven’t done it consistently, but we’re capable of those kinds of numbers. We got some good pitches to hit and I thought our approach offensively was good all night. We got some runners in, got some runners in scoring position and put up a big number.”

On Jurrjens

“He gave us six innings with probably not his best stuff, just stuff-wise. But he pitched. He got himself out of two or, I want to say, three of the first six innings were first-and-second, one out or no outs? [None out, actually.]. He made the pitch when he had to.”

On Uggla and Heyward

“Danny had a four-RBI night, and Heyward – from both of those guys you’re seeing some better takes, some better approaches, getting on base, hitting the ball hard.”

More on Jurrjens

“For me, he’s been the most consistent guy we’ve had. Even on nights like this, where he didn’t have his good stuff, he kept you …

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Prado might return before All-Star break

SAN DIEGO – Left fielder Martin Prado made significant progress the past two days in his recovery from staph-infection surgery, and the Braves said there’s a chance he could return before the All-Star break.

The incision has nearly healed from the June 10 procedure on his right calf, and Prado started hitting baseballs off a tee at Turner Field on Friday.

When the incision is completely closed, perhaps within a few days, he will be cleared to begin running and other baseball activities.

Prado had surgery to clean out staph infection from his calf along with a small area of his left knee. Incisions typically require two to three weeks to heal.

Incisions are not stitched but left open following staph-infection surgery, in order to heal from the bottom out.

He has not played since June 7, the night Prado was hit in the left knee by a catcher’s throw while stealing second base in a game at Florida. That injury was unrelated to the staph infection, Braves doctors said.

An …

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Fredi G: No discussions about hitting coach change

SAN DIEGO – Braves fans have taken to the blogosphere and airwaves with speculation and suggestions that hitting coach Larry Parrish could be and/or should be fired. But at this point, that’s apparently all it is. Speculation and suggestions outside the organization.

“I’ve never even thought about that kind of stuff,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said Saturday. “That’s never entered my mind, because I’ve been a coach. It’s so easy to say, yeah, you, if it’s not [going well]. I think the best way to say it is, everybody’s got to share responsibility.”

The Braves hit .199 in their last 12 games before Saturday, dropping their overall average to .238 and their on-base percentage to .305. Washington (.237) and San Diego (.234) were the only National League teams with lower averages, and San Francisco (.304) was the lone NL team with a lower OBP.

Nevertheless, the pitching-strong Braves were 43-34, tied for the second-best record in the NL and fourth-best …

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