Archive for June, 2011

Chipper: “I never wanted Yunel to leave”

He was petulant and pouty at times, but the Braves would not have traded Yunel Escobar if the shortstop played in the first half last season like he has for Toronto this season.

Escobar is back in town with the Blue Jays, his first trip to Atlanta since being traded along with left-hander Jo-Jo Reyes to Toronto at the All-Star break last season for shortstop Alex Gonzalez, shortstop prospect Tyler Pastornicky and since-traded lefty prospect Tim Collins.

Reyes will start Wednesday’s series finale for the Blue Jays against his former team.

Escobar hit .280 with a .357 on-base percentage, eight homers and 26 RBIs in 67 games before Monday, including .309 with six homers and a .395 OBP in his past 36 games. He signed a two-year, $10 million contract extension last week.

In his final 135 games for Atlanta, he hit .259 with three homers, 38 RBIs, a .358 OBP and .320 slugging percentage (.678 OPS).

If he had performed better, the Braves might have lived with his attitude and some …

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Prado healing from staph infection ordeal

When Martin Prado saw the doctor in the Braves parking lot waiting for him at 1 a.m., that’s when the gravity of the situation really began to sink in for the hard-nosed left fielder.

Prado had a staph infection in his right leg that was worsening, and he was told by a Miami doctor June 9 that he needed to return to Atlanta and get it treated right away. He left the team and caught a flight home that night.

Dr. Gary Lourie, the Braves’ orthopaedic specialist, performed a surgical procedure at 7 a.m. the next morning to remove infection from his lower right leg and left knee. The infection had spread to a contusion on the knee.

“The doctor [in Miami] said this is something you don’t want to play around with,” Prado said. “They acted quickly, opened it up and just scraped that thing out right away. It was painful, but I mean, it would have been worse if I hadn’t taken care of it.

“When I got here, I got here right around 1, [Lourie] was waiting for me in the …

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Yunel Escobar is back in town with Jays

He was a petulant hot dog of a player who rubbed teammates wrong at least as frequently as he ticked off opponents.

That said, if Yunel Escobar had just played for the Braves the way he is now for Toronto, I’m confident they would not have traded him.

There were some memorable moments with Yunel Escobar in a Braves uniform. Tonight he's back for the first time since the Braves traded him nearly a year ago to Toronto.

There were some memorable moments with Yunel Escobar in a Braves uniform. Tonight he's back for the first time since the Braves traded him nearly a year ago to Toronto.

But he didn’t, not for the last year that he was with them, and they did. They shipped him and lefty Jo-Jo Reyes to Toronto a year ago at the All-Star break in a deal that brought shortstop Alex Gonzalez, shortstop prospect Tyler Pastornicky and since-traded lefty fireballer prospect Tim Collins to the Braves.

Escobar and the Blue Jays are in town for a three-game series beginning tonight at Turner Field, the first time the Braves have faced him in a regular-season game since the trade. And to top it off, Reyes is scheduled to start Wednesday’s series …

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Mather dropped, Ramirez kept on roster

The Braves envisioned a significant bench role for Joe Mather when they claimed him off waivers from St. Louis in November.

On Tuesday, they designated him for assignment for the second time in four months, which might have ended a Braves career that never took flight except for one memorable weekend in Southern California.

After going 7-for-12 with a homer and five RBIs in three games May 20-22 against the Angels at Anaheim, Mather was 3-for-42 (.071) with two RBIs, four walks and 13 strikeouts in his last 21 games.

When outfielder Nate McLouth came off the disabled list Sunday, the Braves  kept rookie Wilkin Ramirez as a backup outfielder and dropped Mather, who hit .213 with one homer, nine RBI and 23 strikeouts in 75 at-bats.

They have 10 days to trade, release or put him on waivers.

“That was a difficult decision,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “And like I told [Mather], this is not a 15-second decision, because he brings some …

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Beachy to start Wednesday; Chipper update

Brandon Beachy will skip his planned second rehab start and instead  step into Tommy Hanson rotation spot Wednesday against the Toronto Blue Jays, barring any unexpected developments.

“It looks like it’s going to be him on Wednesday,” manager Fredi Gonzalez said Sunday.

Beachy has spent five weeks on the DL recovering from an oblique strain. He allowed one run, four hits and two walks with eight strikeouts in five innings Thursday in a rehab start for Gwinnett.

The rookie right-hander was 1-1 with a 3.45 ERA in eight starts before his injury, with 48 strikeouts and 12 walks in 44-1/3 innings.

Hanson went on the DL Friday with tendinitis in his pitching shoulder and is expected to return after 15 days. Mike Minor is currently pitching in the fifth-starter spot that Beachy held before his oblique injury.

McLouth back, but in left

It was an eventful 24 hours for Nate McLouth, who got hit by a pitch in Triple-A, hit by a pitch in the majors, and made a diving catch …

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Braves quotes after Sunday win over Rangers

***FREDI GONZALEZ

on Jurrjens

“Hot day, I think he threw over 110 pitches. By him being able to go that deep in the game, we were able to piece together the game and hold that very good baseball team to two runs. My hat’s off to him.

“There were a lot of good plays; my hat’s off to Nate in the eighth inning coming in on that ball. Big afternoon for Freddie Freeman and Heyward, and Jonny Venters, getting an inning and two-thirds out of him against a good part of the lineup.”

“The bats are swinging a little better, and hopefully you get a good feeling and go win the next series, start winning series again.”

On Freeman’s strikeout barrage before today’s three-hit game

“It’s a young hitter, learning what it takes to play in the major leagues. We’re going to see some ups and downs, but overall, on June 20 I’m real happy with his progress as a major league hitter.”

Team is 10-3 when Schafer scores

“That’s a good winning percentage. I’ll take 10-3 …

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Series preview: Braves vs. Blue Jays

Series preview: Braves vs. Blue Jays at Turner Field

When (TV): 7:10 p.m. Monday-Tuesday (WPCH), 1:10 p.m. Wednesday (SPSO)

Radio: 680, 93.7, 100.5

Probable starting pitchers:

Monday: Braves RH Tim Hudson (5-6, 4.08 ERA) vs. LH Ricky Romero (6-6, 3.01)

Tuesday: Braves LH Mike Minor (0-2, 5.47) vs. RH Zach Stewart (0-0, 2.57)

Wednesday: Braves RH Brandon Beachy (1-1, 3.45) vs. LH Jo-Jo Reyes (3-5, 4.18)

About the Braves:

• Batting: Before Sunday, the Braves had an NL-worst .219 batting average in June, with the league’s second-most homers (21) for the month behind Milwaukee (22). The Braves’ .238 overall average was the NL’s third-lowest before Sunday, and only San Diego (.299) had a lower OBP than the Braves (.306) in the NL…. Two active Braves have faced Romero: Eric Hinske (2-for-6, one homer) and Alex Gonzalez (2-for-6).

• Pitching: Hudson is 1-4 with a 5.80 ERA in his past seven starts, and lasted four innings or fewer …

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.182 avg in past six games for Bravos? Oy

No matter how good your pitching is, it’s awfully tough to win ballgames when your team hits .182 over a six-game stretch.

That’s what the Braves have done in their past six. Not surprising, then, that they lost five of those six. And today the Braves and Jair Jurrjens face Rangers righty Alexi Ogando, who is 7-1 with a 2.71 ERA and .201 opponents’ average, including a mind-numbing .159 average and .196 slugging percentage by right-handed batters. (It’s a good day for Braves to be left-heavy.)

It should also be noted, Atlanta’s dinged-up pitching staff  hasn’t been up to its usual standards in a few recent games, either, evident in a 5.07 ERA over that six-game span.

While the Braves wait for Chipper (left) to get healthy, McCann has been their only consistent hitter lately. He has six homers in his past 11 home games entering Sunday's series finale against Texas.

While the Braves wait for Chipper (left) to get healthy, McCann has been their only consistent hitter lately. He has six homers in his past 11 home games entering Sunday's series finale against Texas.

But the hitting? Whew. It’s been bleak, folks.

Remember a year ago when folks were calling for Terry …

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Braves quotes after marathon loss to Rangers

***FREDI GONZALEZ

On the first-inning errors

“That kind of put us behind the eight-ball. But to tell you the truth, I thought it was one of Derek’s better outings, the way he was aggressive and went after hitters. Got some groundballs and double plays. It’s just too bad that we didn’t play particularly well behind him. But here it is, almost six hours after the game started and we’re in extra innings. We came back and tied it. They got the leadoff double by Kinsler and we had to put Hamilton on to face Beltre. That’s tough poison right there.”

On Uggla

“All day today, he hit the ball hard. He hit the ball really, really hard, and came within three or four inches from hitting it out in straightaway center. That’s a good sign.”

On Harrison coming back after long rain delay

“Let’s not talk about that. I have enough trouble talking about my team. I don’t want to talk about someone else’s.”

On playing through all the injuries

“We just have to keep …

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Chipper, Prado updates

The Braves could have third baseman Gonzalez said he couldn’t give a date for Prado’s expected return because the doctors aren’t certain. Staph-infection wounds are left open after surgery, and usually take 2-3 weeks to heal. Prado had surgery June 10.

“You’ve got to let that incision to heal completely before you can do anything,” Gonzalez said. “You’ve got to wait for that incision to heal, then however long it takes him to get back in shape, how he feels coming back from that infection, his strength and all that kind of stuff.”

“We want everything cut-and-dried, but I don’t want to try to guess. I don’t know. I really can’t tell you…. He hasn’t done anything. With Jason [Heyward], his shoulder wasn’t good but he could be out running, playing catch, keeping his strength up. [Prado] hasn’t done anything.”

Chipper update

Third baseman Chipper Jones missed his second consecutive start with a strained right adductor muscle near his right groin. …

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