Archive for July, 2011

Freeman keeps improving as season wears on

Just over 100 games into the season, at a time when some rookies start to fade, Freddie Freeman keeps getting better.

The Braves’ 21-year-old first baseman had another three-hit game Wednesday to raise his average to .287. He also made another diving catch of a line drive in the late innings with a runner on base, his third such catch in two nights.

Freeman hit .325 with 29 extra-base hits and a .386 on-base percentage in his past 58 games before Thursday, and had eight homers, 24 RBIs, a .409 OBP and 1.004 on-base-plus-slugging percentage (OPS) in his past 30 games.

He extended his career-best hitting streak to 12 games with a first-inning single Thursday.

“He’s just getting started,” second baseman Dan Uggla said of the 6-foot-5 California native, whose 11 three-hit games were more that double the next-highest Braves total. “He’s kind of a freak of nature, him and [Jason] Heyward both. They’re both so talented, yet so humble.

“Freddie, he’s acclimated now and he’s just got a …

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Braves add Varvaro to weary bullpen

After the Braves bullpen covered a whopping 18 innings in the first three games of the Pirates series, including back-to-back extra inning games, the Braves finally called on some help.

They recalled right-hander Anthony Varvaro from Triple-A Gwinnett Thursday to add an extra arm to a weary bullpen and optioned outfielder Wilkin Ramirez back to Gwinnett.

“Just to get some coverage, a JIC – just in case,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “We’re getting to where we’re getting some danger zones. Here’s August. We need to make sure we don’t put anybody in a situation where they get hurt.”

Scott Linebrink had pitched four days in a row entering Thursday night’s series finale with the Pirates. He was off limits. Cristhian Martinez pitched six innings of the 13 the bullpen covered in Tuesday’s 19-inning marathon. Scott Proctor pitched three Tuesday night.

And Gonzalez said he planned to rest Jonny Venters on Thursday night, possibly Friday too. Venters is leading the major leagues …

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Here’s why Carlos Quentin makes sense for Braves

It’s Chipper Jones Bobblehead Night at Turner Field, and by the time I finish writing this blog in 25 minutes we should know whether the third baseman is back in the Braves lineup after missing two starts with a right quad strain.

What we do know, which I just double-checked with my infamous math skills to make sure, is that Chipper has 999 career extra-base hits. He’s got 516 doubles, 38 triples and 445 home runs. Correct me if I’m wrong, but that’s 999, right?

Anyway, Carlos Quentin.

Carlos Quention's 20 home runs are five more than Carlos Beltran has this season, and he'd be the Braves leader in homers and RBIs (62).

Carlos Quention's 20 home runs are five more than Carlos Beltran has this season, and he'd be the Braves leader in homers and RBIs (62).

That’s right, we’ve got no time for transitions today, so let’s get right into the rumor du jour. And let me start by saying, it’s legit. Checked it with someone this afternoon who would know, and the Braves are, indeed, talking to the White Sox about Quentin, as FoxSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal first reported this morning.

The slugging corner outfielder currently …

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Braves quotes after Wednesday 10-inn. win over Pirates

FREDI GONZALEZ

On Ross’ performance

“Great evening, not only behind the plate, made a nice tag at the plate, was able to hold that team to one run for 10 innings with multiple pitchers and drive in two. He did a terrific job.”

“Freddie Freeman got three hits and a big hit there to go first and third. The bullpen, terrific job. We’re running on fumes down there right now. For them to shut them out for three innings with O’Flaherty and Kimbrel and Linebrink…. For me the play of the game was JJ on that bunt to end that seventh. If he only gets one out there, then we have to bring in Georgie (Sherrill) in to get those left-handers, maybe becomes a little different game. It was a heads-up play by him.

“Good win. Two in a row, got a chance tomorrow to maybe win the series.”

On Jurrjens’ outing

“He was outstanding. What, about 111 pitches? (116) Terrific night.”

On Freeman

“Right now he’s swinging a hot bat and helping us win some ball games.”

On checking Freeman’s hand at first base …

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With McCann on DL, Braves not panicking in trade talks

When Brian McCann strained an oblique muscle in his left side Tuesday, Braves general manager Frank Wren did not hurriedly call New York and cave to the Mets’ demand for a top pitching prospect in a trade for Carlos Beltran.

Some Braves fans probably wished he would have.

With the Sunday non-waiver trade deadline approaching, folks are getting anxious about the Braves, whose already inconsistent offense was dealt a big blow with the injury to McCann during Tuesday’s 19-inning marathon win against Pittsburgh.

The All-Star catcher strained his side making a throw to second base in the 10th inning and was placed on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday.

Veteran backup David Ross will serve as primary catcher until McCann returns and journeyman J.C. Boscan was recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett to serve as backup.

“It’s very frustrating,” said McCann, who hopes to return after 15 days. “The timing of it — it’s the second, maybe third time I’ve been on the DL — I pride myself …

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Umpire Meals on call at home plate: “I was incorrect”

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said Wednesday afternoon he hoped umpire Jerry Meals would admit he missed the 19th inning call that cost the Pirates a 4-3 loss to the Braves the night before. Within the next 90 minutes he got it.

Umpire Jerry Meals admitted late Wednesday afternoon he had been wrong in ruling Julio Lugo safe at home, that Lugo had in fact been tagged by Pirates catcher Michael McKenry.

Meals reiterated that in live action, saying “I did not see the tag,” but said he realized his mistake after he watched video replays in the umpire room after the game.

“After seeing a few of them, on one particular replay I was able to see that Lugo’s pant leg moved ever so slightly when the swipe tag was attempted by McKenry,” Meals said to three assembled reporters. “And that’s telling me I was incorrect in my decision, and he should have been ruled out and not safe.”

Meals did not take questions. But his umpiring crew chief Dale Scott added this: “Obviously we all every day …

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After injury to McCann, what next for Braves?

A little scattershooting while pondering what must have gone through umpire Jerry Meals’ mind in those first few seconds immediately after he called Julio Lugo safe to end the Bravos’ 4-3, 19-inning win over Pittsburgh at 1:50 a.m….

Terrible call, terrific result for the Braves on an otherwise troubling night when they lost their best player, All-Star catcher Brian McCann, for what they hope will only be 15-20 days, although oblique muscle pulls often take longer to heal.

Jordan Schafer is also going on the DL for the lingering soreness he’s had in his jammed and chip-fractured middle finger.

Since DL'd catcher McCann can only watch for at least the next 15 days, will the Braves move with more urgency to trade for a bat this week?

Since DL'd catcher McCann can only watch for at least the next 15 days, will the Braves move with more urgency to trade for a bat this week?

Whether the Braves say so publicly or not, this has to give a little more urgency to their pursuit of a right-handed bat before Sunday’s 4 p.m. non-waiver trade deadline, especially given that some of the available hitters are already off the market …

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Braves quotes after 19-inning win over Pirates

***FREDI GONZALEZ

“For me the MVP was Cristhian Martinez. We were lucky, we could have taken him all the way up to 100 pitches because he had thrown in Gwinnett. He did one heck of a job.”

On play at plate

“Just reading his lips, he thought he missed the tag at the plate. I don’t know. I haven’t had a chance to see the replay.”

On what he’s thinking after it looked like Lugo was out

“I’m thinking OK, we have first and third and [Martin] Prado at the plate and we’ll give him another chance. Then I saw, somebody had an angle where [Scott] Proctor had fallen down coming out of the box, it could have been out at first and out at the plate. It could have been a double play. We were fortunate.”

“I say him swipe it and I was reading his lips and then I saw us celebrating. I think he said he thought he missed him.”

On McCann’s injury

“We are going to put him on the DL with that oblique. Hopefully it is not a bad oblique. There are different grades of it and hopefully we can get him …

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Updated: McCann to go on 15-disabled list

Braves catcher Brian McCann left Tuesday’s game against the Pirates with a strained left oblique. He will be placed on the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday.

The Braves said they will announce the corresponding roster move on Wednesday. Following the game, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said he expected J.C. Boscan to be called up from Triple-A Gwinnett.

“Hopefully it is not a bad oblique,” Gonzalez said. “There are different grades of it and hopefully we can get him back in 15-20 days. That’s a big bat out of the lineup.”

Gonzalez said David Ross, who caught nine innings of the 19-inning contest that began Tuesday, will catch Wednesday’s game against the Pirates.

McCann was injured on a throw to second base on a steal attempt in the 10th inning. The throw sailed into center field. After calling trainers out, McCann tried one throw back to the pitcher but quickly motioned that he could not continue. Ross entered the game.

Boscan is hitting .194 in 53 games with the G-Braves …

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Schafer scratched again; O’Flaherty is ERA leader

Jordan Schafer’s injured finger isn’t healing as quickly as planned, and there’s a chance the Braves center fielder will need a stint on the 15-day disabled list.

He was a late scratch from the lineup Tuesday against Pittsburgh after the finger was too sore during batting practice. Nate McLouth moved back to center field from left field and Eric Hinske started in left.

“I’m not sure what we’re going to do,” Schafer said of the DL possibility. “Obviously we need a full bench, so…”

Schafer came on as a defensive replacement in center field  in the top of the ninth inning Tuesday and was hit by a pitch in the same hand in the 11th inning. The Braves were running out of players and he stayed in the game.

Schafer has missed five starts since jamming the finger on a head-first slide while stealing second base Thursday at Colorado. X-rays this week showed a chip fracture.

He and the Braves originally thought he’d only miss a game or two, and on Monday they decided not to disable him …

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