Archive for June, 2011

Braves: .199 avg. past 12 games, .305 OBP all season

SAN DIEGO — While getting whipped 11-2 in Friday’s series opener, the Braves helped the Padres produce their home-game season-highs for runs, hits (12) and widest winning margin.

They also had a hand in Padres starter Tim Stauffer setting a career high with nine strikeouts, Padres rookie Jesus Guzman hitting his first major league home run, and rookie Josh Spence retiring the Braves in order in the ninth in his major league debut.

About 30 minutes after it was over, Spence, an Aussie, came back on the field and celebrated with a group of teen-aged Aussie baseball players who happened to be at Petco Park for Friday’s game. They saluted him with their homeland’s famous sports chant, Aussie Aussie Aussie! Oi Oi Oi!

What I’m saying is, the Braves really did a nice job of helping the Padres forget for a night how much the team’s offensive struggles and particularly its home-field woes this season.

Now, the Braves need to act like rude guests and wreck the weekend for the Padres. …

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Braves quotes after Friday’s 11-2 loss to Padres

***FREDI GONZALEZ

“It’s one of those, he’s just that guy. It seems like there’s always one guy in the rotation that doesn’t get any run support. And I’m sure he’s pitched that way, thinking about that stuff.

“They got a bunch of ground balls, I don’t think they hit the ball hard. That inning, there were a couple of plays that maybe we should have made, and it snowballed on him. But again, they held us to four hits.

“We haven’t had very many of these games in our young season so far. So forget about it, come back tomorrow afternoon and get a four- or five-game winning streak going.”

On Tim Stauffer’s performance

“He’s got command, throws a good changeup, throws the ball over the plate. To me, it looked like he threw all his pitches over the plate. He kept us off-balance all night.”

On offense, a little hot against Toronto but have struggled most of June

“That’s the way we’ve been hitting most of the year. If you look at our stats over the course of the year, we’re not where we …

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Hanson set for Tuesday; Prado still healing

SAN DIEGO — Tommy Hanson was to throw a side session in the bullpen just before Friday’s game at San Diego, his first time throwing from the mound since going on the 15-day disabled list with shoulder tendinitis.

He is scheduled to start Tuesday at Seattle, the first day Hanson is eligible to come off the DL. He had no discomfort the day after a flat-ground throwing session Wednesday, and went into Friday’s session confident.

“Everything’s good,” said Hanson (8-4), whose 2.48 ERA ranked second in the league before Friday, behind teammate Jair Jurrjens’ 2.11. “I don’t think there’s going to be any problems. I think it’s fine. It was just inflammation and it went down. I don’t think it’s going to come back.”

An MRI on Hanson’s pitching shoulder showed no structural damage, just tendinitis of the posterior rotator cuff.

“It wasn’t anything we were worried about,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “After the exam, the doctor said just let it calm down a little bit and …

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Braves ‘pen is best, now can it hold up?

SAN DIEGO – After losing Billy Wagner to retirement and Takashi Saito to free agency, Braves officials still believed their bullpen would be as good or better this season than in 2010. So far, they’ve been right.

The question becomes, can it hold up?

The bullpen has been a huge reason the Braves have the NL’s second-best record (43-33) despite a spotty offense. Atlanta relievers have a majors-leading 2.49 ERA, which is more than a quarter-run better than the next-lowest in the majors, San Diego’s 2.77.

The Braves knew they would rely heavily on Venters (left), but 34-year-old Linebrink (right) has been a bigger part of the bullpen than anyone envisioned.

The Braves knew they would rely heavily on Venters (left), but 34-year-old Linebrink (right) has been a bigger part of the bullpen than anyone envisioned.

But look inside the numbers and you’ll notice a difference between the bullpens of those two teams, who start a three-game series tonight here in San Diego (where I don’t want to rub it in but it was 65 degrees at mid-day and I wore a long-sleeve T-shirt when I walked to breakfast this morning).

The bullpen difference I’m …

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Mather chooses free agency over Triple-A

SAN DIEGO — Joe Mather opted for free agency rather than be sent back to Triple-A by the Braves.

The backup corner outfielder/infielder was designated for assignment Sunday by the Braves. He chose free agency on Thursday after going through waivers without being claimed by another team.

Mather, 28, had the  right to choose free agency as a player who’d already been outrighted to the minor leagues once this season.

The Braves claimed him off waivers from St. Louis in November and hoped to use him as a backup first baseman and outfielder. But the out-of-options player was outrighted to the minors after having a poor spring training and going unclaimed on waivers.

(He had to clear waivers because he was out of minor-league options, which had been exhausted during his years with the Cardinals.)

Added to the Braves’ major league roster early in the season, Mather hit .213 with one homer, nine RBI and 23 strikeouts in 75 at-bats for Atlanta..

After going 7-for-12 with a homer and …

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Series preview: Braves vs. San Diego Padres

Series preview: at Padres

When (TV): 10:05 p.m. Friday (SPSO); 8:35 p.m. Saturday (SPSO); 4:05 p.m. Sunday (FSSO)

Radio: 680, 93.7, 100.5

Probable starting pitchers:

Friday: Braves RH Derek Lowe (3-5, 4.10 ERA) vs. RH Tim Stauffer (2-5, 3.13)

Saturday: Braves RH Jair Jurrjens (9-3, 2.11 ERA) vs. RH Dustin Moseley (2-6, 3.02)

Sunday: Braves RH Tim Hudson (6-6, 3.73) vs. LH Cory Luebke (1-2, 3.23)

About the Braves:

• Batting: Brian McCann homered in consecutive games against the Blue Jays and has hit four home runs in his last five games, while hitting .438 (7-for-16). He leads all major league catchers with 13 home runs on the season. Jason Heyward has hit .368 (14-for-38) with a home run and nine RBIs in nine career games against the Padres.

• Pitching: Lowe hasn’t won a game since his no-hit bid in Philadelphia on May 6. Since then he’s gone 0-2 with a 4.96 ERA in eight starts. He’s allowed eight runs in 10 1/3 innings over his past two starts. He’s 5-3 …

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Teheran, Vizcaino make Futures Game

Julio Teheran and Arodys Vizcaino, two of the Braves top pitching prospects, were named to the Futures Games Thursday when Major League Baseball announced the rosters.

Both will pitch for the World Team in the minor league all-star game on Sunday July 10 in Phoenix, which kicks off the Major League All-Star festivities. The Futures Game will be broadcast on ESPN2 at 6 p.m. eastern.

This is the second selection for Teheran, whom Baseball America considers the No. 5 overall prospect in baseball. Teheran pitched a scoreless inning in relief in last year’s Futures game.

Teheran has made two spot starts in the majors this year, going 0-1 with a 5.19 ERA in starts against the Phillies and Diamondbacks. He is 7-1 with a 1.83 ERA in 12 starts for Triple-A Gwinnett.

Vizcaino is ranked Baseball America’s 93rd overall prospect and likely only that low because of a history of injuries. But Vizcaino has bounced back from elbow troubles a year ago and impressed the Braves with his electric …

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Braves claim lefty reliever from Marlins

The Braves claimed left-handed reliever Dustin Richardson off waivers from the Florida Marlins and have assigned him to Triple-A Gwinnett.

The Braves wanted some left-handed depth for their bullpen. Left-hander Eric O’Flaherty has struggled some with periodic back pain.

Richardson is a former fifth round draft choice of the Red Sox in 2006 and was traded to Florida this past offseason for left-hander Andrew Miller. The Marlins designated him for assignment last week to open a spot on their 40-man roster for Dewayne Wise.

Richardson went 3-1 with a 3.66 ERA in 23 relief appearances for the Marlins’ Triple-A affiliate New Orleans. Lefties were hitting .341 off him, with 15 hits in 10 2/3 innings, while he limited right-handers to a .208 average, with 16 hits in 21 1/3 innings.

Richardson was assigned to the Braves’ 40-man roster, which had an open spot.

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Braves postgame quotes following Wednesday’s win over Toronto

BRANDON BEACHY

On if felt good after way he started (three Ks in first):

“I had the first batter 0-2 and ended up giving up a hit, so I wasn’t too happy about that. But after I made it through that first inning, I felt confident. Day-to-day when you feel confident, sometimes it comes right back at you, and other times you have it.”

On trying to keep doing what Tim Hudson started in series:

“I made a comment to Mike (Minor) that night Huddy had that performance. I said we have to go out there and come up after this. We can’t give too much away. We definitely tried to replicate what he set the tone as.”

On if he can use team’s aggressiveness to his advantage, when they know he throws strikes:

“I see that a lot of times, when I throw a slider in the dirt early in the count and get a bad swing on it – probably because I throw a lot of fastballs in the strike zone.”

On if he was surprised to get so many strikeouts (expecting to pitch more to contact):

“It doesn’t surprise me. My …

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Medlen is throwing off mound again

After about two weeks off following a setback with scar tissue breakup, Kris Medlen is back throwing off a bullpen mound. He threw 60 pitches without problem on Wednesday as he starts his climb again to return from elbow reconstruction surgery.

Medlen is not throwing curveballs with any regularity. He’s going to ease back into throwing his third pitch, which is what he was throwing when he felt a scar tissue pop on May 31. But he said his biggest obstacle is now mental, not physical, and trusting his arm again.

“It’s the last hurdle for everybody who goes through this,” Medlen said. “You know your arm is strong. You know it’s sturdy and ready to go, it’s just the mental part. It’s that whole release of being able to let it go. I can feel myself, once I’m trying to throw it as hard as I can, my body is like ‘oh,’ and I guide it through. It doesn’t feel as fluid as I want it to yet, but that’s the last hurdle.”

As the Braves headed for the West Coast, Medlen was headed back to …

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