One of the few Braves who could take encouragement from Wednesday’s loss was Kris Medlen. The Braves right-hander was called on to pitch with two outs and the bases loaded in the ninth inning and the season on the line, in only his second outing back from 13 months out rehabbing from elbow ligament-transplant surgery.
Medlen needed only three pitches to get out of the inning and 13 more to work a scoreless 10th. He allowed only one hit in 2 2/3 innings since his return.
“To come in in a humongous spot and do well gives me a bunch of confidence, which is what I needed,” said Medlen, who could either return in 2012 as a starter or a reliever. “I’m mentally drained from the year and a couple months that I’ve gone through, and to be able to help the guys was huge for me. I already can’t wait until next year.”
McCann’s September blues
Brian McCann set out this season to be strong in September after a late-season fade a year ago, by losing weight and changing his offseason routine. As it turned out, he did just the opposite.
McCann hit only .200 (17-for-85) in the month of September, a career-low, while striking out a career-high once every 3.86 at-bats for the month. He expected his body to be worn down by the daily grind of catching, but that was compounded this season by an oblique injury.
McCann took only two weeks off in early August after the injury and hit only .180 (24-for-133) with six home runs and 16 RBIs in 37 games since his return.
When asked if he thinks he came back too early, McCann said: “I don’t know. You could always sit back and (second-guess). I know I’ve learned a lot this year as far as, this in the first time I went on the DL. I want to be out there and I want to play. I just didn’t get it done. It was just a bad month of baseball for me. I feel terrible about that.”
McCann said he’ll re-evaluate his routine and continue trying to find a way to prepare his body for such a long grind. He’ll do it with a lingering bad taste.
“I feel like I let everybody down,” he said. “I’m a guy that hits in the middle of the order, that’s supposed to drive in runs, and the way I performed wasn’t very good.”
Eye on Jurrjens and Hanson
The season was over, but manager Fredi Gonzalez told Jair Jurrjens to go ahead with his scheduled start in instructional league Thursday night. Gonzalez wanted him to get in his five innings of work in his knee brace, and continue to build confidence in his right knee. Jurrjens has been out since Aug. 30 with a bone bruise.
“He’s really worked really hard to improve that strength in his quad and that brace,” Gonzalez said. “I said, ‘It’ll be a good test to see how you hold up.’”
Tommy Hanson, meanwhile, might be supplying the Braves a little more concern at this point, since it was a shoulder injury that kept him out the final two months of the season. Hanson won’t throw again until December, as he continues to rehab his shoulder for an undersurface rotator cuff tear.
“When pitchers start having trouble with their arms, of course you start worrying about it,” Gonzalez said.