Medlen prefers starting; Prado shrugs off trade rumors

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Kris Medlen prefers to start, but he has the versatility to pitch well in relief and he knows the Braves have top prospects competing for starting jobs.

And so the bullpen is where the Braves plan to use him in 2012. However, manager Fredi Gonzalez reiterated Monday that Medlen would get “stretched out” like the projected starters this spring, just in case.

“He could jump in there as a starter if he needs to,” Gonzalez said. “So we’ll stretch him out, get to four or five innings there at the end [of spring training] like every other starter, and then if everybody is healthy – which is a good sign – then he’ll go to the bullpen and do whatever we want as far as those middle innings.”

Gonzalez said Medlen would probably “piggy back” with another starter in spring games, coming in to pitch multiple innings after the starter leaves the game. He could also start some split-squad or “B” games.

“The whole long relief thing — I don’t want to say I’m better than that, but  I feel like I want a role and I want to be a starter,” Medlen said. “Once you get the taste of controlling games and setting the tone, that’s my thing. I’m like, dude, I’ve got to do that again. But I’m just excited to be healthy, either way.”

Medlen missed most of 2011 recovering from ligament-transplant elbow surgery, but returned for two scoreless relief appearances in the last week of the season (2-1/3 innings, one hit, no walks, two strikeouts).

He was 5-0 with a 3.86 ERA in 14 starts in 2010 before blowing out his elbow.

The Braves have one opening in the rotation, and Mike Minor will compete with prospects Julio Teheran and Randall Delgado for that job. Another will probably fill in while Tim Hudson is on the disabled list in April recovering from back surgery.

“I know Huddy’s going to miss some time, but I know there are like eight, nine dudes going for five [starting] spots,” Medlen said. “Obviously my goal is to be a starter; that’s what I want to do. I think they’re talking about stretching me out, but I don’t know exactly.”

Prado glad to be back

Left fielder Martin Prado was at the center of trade rumors that began soon after the season ended, and Gonzalez called him in November to explain as best he could what was going on.

After being connected with various proposed deals involving Colorado, Baltimore and among other teams, Prado wasn’t traded. When he reported to camp Monday, four days before position players were due, he sounded as determined and focused as ever.

“[Trade rumors] is part of my business I cannot control,” he said. “I love this team. I’m so glad, so thankful for the opportunity that I’ve had from them. I love every single guy in this clubhouse and this team. I’m probably going to be a Brave, but things happen.”

Prado is back for his second season as a left fielder and Chipper Jones’ backup at third base, and this time he said he knows exactly what to expect and how to prepare.

The former utility infielder was an All-Star second baseman in 2010 in his first full season as a lineup regular. Prado didn’t complain after being switched to accommodate Dan Uggla, whom the Braves acquired in a November 2010 trade.

“Now I have more of an idea what I need to do, because some days you’re playing left field and some days third base,” he said. “I have to be ready for every scenario.”

49 comments Add your comment

richbrave

February 20th, 2012
5:01 pm

“……..Kris Medlen prefers to start, but he has the versatility to pitch well in relief and he knows the Braves have top prospects competing for starting jobs……..” DOB

And according to HUDSON one of them. At least a comment I read earlier today makes me believe HUDDY thinks so.

Teej

February 20th, 2012
5:03 pm

I love Prado, such a team player.

Dennis Reynolds

February 20th, 2012
5:03 pm

I LOVE MARTIN PRADO.

Thank you, Wren for being smarter than to trade the heartbeat of this team.

BraveDan

February 20th, 2012
5:05 pm

Excellent post. Thanks David.

Mr. Enigma

February 20th, 2012
5:13 pm

My girlfriend damn near had a meltdown when they traded Omar Infante. I can’t imagine what she would have done if they traded Prado. Glad he’s back.

braves

February 20th, 2012
5:15 pm

Prado is the epitome of a team player

Just Pat

February 20th, 2012
5:16 pm

Martin Prado is a jewel………our diamond in the rough. LOVE the dude!

Just Pat

February 20th, 2012
5:19 pm

And Melen ranks right up there as a team player, too.

Just Pat

February 20th, 2012
5:19 pm

Sorry…..Medlen

TexasBrave

February 20th, 2012
5:38 pm

They have Christian Martinez who can give them innings, do you really need another long man? Plus the main reason the bullpen melted down last year is because the starters did not go deeper into games. Kris has proven in the past he can do that and be successful.

If you don’t want to use the bullpen up in the first few months while Huddy is out then you go with Medlen and Delgado. Both have proven that they can go deeper into games and be successful.

jch

February 20th, 2012
5:47 pm

I loved watching Medlen start; I hope they at least give him a fair shot at winning a rotation spot. If so, my money’s on his winning it.

If not, it will be a real luxury have him come in and shut the opposing team down for several innings.

Gil In Mechanicsville

February 20th, 2012
5:47 pm

Sometimes it hurts you to be too versatile so you get stuck with a job because no one else can do those things. Prado and Medlen are good examples. That said, I expect Kris will get his opportunity to start lots of games in his career. He is young and as long as he is ringing up hitters, people will notice.

Thing is, a major league team’s goal is to have 8 quality starters going into spring training. May first is a lofty goal for Huddy to come back. June will be more realistic. We still don’t know how well JJ’s knee will hold up and Hanson is a bit of a head case… Oops… did I say that?

L.B. 4 Bama

February 20th, 2012
5:49 pm

Martin Prado is one of those “throwback” ball players that I love to watch play. He is the heartbeat of this team and his comments reflect that. I predict that we will see the Martin Prado of 2010 this season. Braves fans (and Frank Wren) will be soooo glad that he was not traded – just wait and see.

bravesgrl4life

February 20th, 2012
5:50 pm

First, a big congrats to Kris on his marriage! Second, I would cry my eyes out if we traded Marteen (yes, I know it’s really Martin, but as many blog regulars know, he is MARTEEEN during the season). He’s such a team player and a great all around guy.

wjones

February 20th, 2012
6:09 pm

To me, with Medlen’s experience, he is the perfect pitcher, at least while we are waiting on Moylan to get healthy the second half, to spot all of our big three, so none will get too much work. Medlen can match up and spot for either EOF or Venters, when one needs a night off, for whatever inning some right handers come up. Then on nights when Kimbrel needs a break, Venters can slot into closer with Medlen and EOF covering 7th and 8th, again depending on matchups. Medlen can also come in when we need a sixth inning pitcher, and can pitch more than one inning. As an added bonus, he can sometimes stay in the game because he is a good hitter. A very valuable player to have back. And like they said, he can start if needed, especially if Moylan comes back healthy later and they need to give a started a turn out of the rotation.

Dear CFG, START MEDLEN

February 20th, 2012
6:10 pm

This article and the numerous pitching rotation projections I’ve read are creating even more doubt in my mind the CFG is the man for this job. It makes me really frustrated to think that our coaching staff wants to limit Medlen’s talents to a long-relief role! He has proven himself as an effective starter and, in my opinion, is the second best pitcher on the team behind Hudson. To be successful, it seems to take a combination of physical talents and the right mentality. He has what it takes to be in the starting rotation. Long relief? Really? What a joke…

Mark (another one)

February 20th, 2012
6:15 pm

Some decisions are best left to the end of spring training, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Medlen and Minor make the rotation. Teheran and Delgado may push them but these types of decisions are why we play spring games. Let their play drive the decisions. Its best for the team and best for the players.

Prado is widely recognized as a quality teammate as well as player. I’m glad he’s back. I just wish we had one more outfield/bench power bat, preferably a righty. Doesn’t every team?

MARTEEEN!!!!!

February 20th, 2012
6:17 pm

I am SOOOO glad they didn’t trade Prado. I know last year was a fluke. He’s too hard of a worker to stay in a slump for long. I’m also hoping Medlen can win a job in the starting rotation. He was a starter before he had surgery and I think he should return as one.

Who Me?

February 20th, 2012
6:25 pm

Wonder if Vizcaino, Teheran, Varvaro – i.e.the kids – have made it to camp yet?

dap01

February 20th, 2012
6:38 pm

Medlin could close some games. He is that versatile and that good.

Ralph

February 20th, 2012
7:12 pm

The whole thing is, we have too many good pitchers and too few good hitters. Get with it Wren, balance this team out. Everybody needs pitchers, it shouldn’t be too hard.

Steve

February 20th, 2012
7:16 pm

I hate to say this, but I hope Minor, Delgado, Teheran and Viscaino all get LIT UP in spring. The simple fact is that Medlen is are best choice for the rotation and he is not being given a chance simply because of his stature. He has the mental makeup of Orel Hershiser when I have seen him pitch. Absolutely tenacious.

And let’s not forget, his Triple A numbers were better than Hanson, Beachy, Minor, Delgado, Jurrgens and Teheran. But no .. he is too versatile to start. STUPID! You know what, I bet Sandy Koufax and Bob Gibson would have made great long relievers also .. but even if they had that versatility would you put them in that role when they are obviously good enough to be in your top 5? Heck no.

Ralph

February 20th, 2012
7:19 pm

Well said Steve!

Ralph

February 20th, 2012
7:26 pm

I hate rule 5 picks, teams tend to feel obligated to keep them even when they are struggling and costing the team wins and they especially the braves always hang on to them too long before giving up on them

Zing

February 20th, 2012
7:33 pm

Is it really better to start two of Delgado/Teheran/Minor instead of one of those guys and Medlen for six weeks or so at the beginning of the season? Wouldn’t Medlen be able to handle a move to the bullpen a bit better than one of the young guys after Huddy gets back? Hmmm…. I don’t know, I understand the eagerness to use all those young arms, but I think Gonzo needs to be a little more flexible here.

Zing

February 20th, 2012
7:35 pm

…and to follow up on the last post– I think we can safely predict that one of Jurrjens, Hanson, or Hudson will have a setback, and probably put 50-50 odds on two of them having issues. (I really hope not, but there it is). Wouldn’t it be better to have one of the young guys pitching games at AAA and then brought up midseason rather than using Medlen as a reliever then pushing him into a starting role (or going with 3 rookies– yikes!). I think that may have been a reason for Medlen getting hurt in the first place; using him as a reliever, then a starter, then reliever…

TexasBrave

February 20th, 2012
7:58 pm

Except for the fact that we will need one of the 4 you mentioned to be Lit Up in the rotation to start the year, I liked everything you said Steve.

Delgado would be my choice for the 5 slot with Medlen 4th. Then whoever is not doing as well when Huddy returns gets sent to the pen.

OC

February 20th, 2012
8:12 pm

I might be wrong but Robert Fish our rule 5 draftee is a second time draft pick and has options so we might be able to keep him and send him down

OC

February 20th, 2012
8:18 pm

Robert Fish was a rule 5 draftee in 2010 by the Yankees but did not stick and was returned to the Angels

David O'Brien

February 20th, 2012
8:24 pm

I hate rule 5 picks, teams tend to feel obligated to keep them even when they are struggling and costing the team wins and they especially the braves always hang on to them too long before giving up on them — Ralph

Which ones did the Braves keep too long?

OC

February 20th, 2012
8:38 pm

Wasn’t Dan Uggla a rule 5 pick ?

David O'Brien

February 20th, 2012
8:42 pm

Wasn’t Dan Uggla a rule 5 pick ?

He was indeed.

OC

February 20th, 2012
8:43 pm

What do Jose Bautista, Roberto Clemente, Shane Victorino, Jayson Werth, and Josh Hamilton have in common ??

geekoh

February 20th, 2012
8:45 pm

Medlen is less likely to make the rotation as a RHP – as a lefty there wouldn’t even be a discussion point. Minor is almost a guarantee for that very reason.

TexasBrave

February 20th, 2012
8:53 pm

geekoh – Oh I agree, just don’t have to like it. I just think you would want to put your best 5 out there and to me Minor is 6th, perhaps 7th on the list for the rotation. I really hope Fredy sees this during ST.

Mark Duncan

February 20th, 2012
9:34 pm

Great to see Prado back and ready to go. Keeping him was the best deal Wren made all winter. He is obiviously an intergal part of the clubhouse and a quality player at multiple positions. All the Braves need are for him to stay healthy and for Heyward to return even to a semblance of the first six weeks of his career and we’ll be ok. The pitching takes care of itself. Medlen should get a shot in the rotation while Hudson is getting back. DOB, what do you think of the Stones bonus tracks for the Some Girls reissue. You are always plugging good Americana-rightfully so- and here the Stones are giving it to us in spades. From Spare Parts to Hank’s You win again, it shows Mick and Keith were paying attention when they were hanging out with Gram Parsons. Go Braves!

T'VILLE DAWG

February 20th, 2012
10:01 pm

If you check the facts you will find that Medlen won around 85% of the games he started before his elbow gave way. Glad Prado is back, the reason of the trade rumors is because every team can see how valuable you were.The braves only look for players with a certain amount of time before they can be arbitration eligable, which is why I’m still pissed that the team traded Shafer only because he was hurt temporarily. This org has no integrity about sticking with players. They were ready to trade Prado for a non injury situation.

onlyonce

February 20th, 2012
10:43 pm

Was Proctor a rule 5 pick up?

Jay Dubu

February 20th, 2012
10:59 pm

Why can’t thee be open competition for the 5th spot with Medlen included? If he wins the jobs, he wins the job. This team has to be about team, and use their best 5 starting pitchers.

If Medlen goes to the bullpen, it gives Fredi a 2nd long relief pitcher. He has to use the bullpen better than he did last season. If the startes go 5, let Martinez or Medlen go 2 – 3, and if the game is close bring the closer.

There’s no eed to use 4 different pitchers to cover 4 innings every time the starter goes 5. Get pitchers in the pen that can get hitters (lefty & righty) out. Enough with the specialist, who comes in to get a single out.

Jay Dubu

February 20th, 2012
11:02 pm

@geekoh

I thought the same thing last season about Minor, but Beachy flat beat him out.

kinghunterx5

February 20th, 2012
11:28 pm

Dear Kris Medlin,

You are indeed starter material, furthermore, any team would be lucky to have you pitch for them as a starter. As a Braves fan, having you anywhere on our pitching staff makes us better, but if you do land in our bullpen, then we will be significantly better – probably the best bullpen in the Majors.
Martinez, Medlin, O’flaherty, Venters, Kimbrel, (Moylan, Delgado, Vizcaino) Name me a better one

Who Me?

February 20th, 2012
11:44 pm

DOB – gotta give it to you man, best blogger in the Bigs. Noboby, and I mean Nobody, does baseball better. I love this time of year when you get back in the groove and the stories start to bubble up. How can you NOT love baseball and spring training? hope you have the bike down there with you bro, enjoy it for us – send a pic once in a while with one of the tiny bikini’s from poolside OK?

Yep, mancrush. I am sooooo jealous….

Hankie Aron

February 21st, 2012
8:50 am

DOB- I know you have no time as you are in full spring training 14 day mode with the Bravos, but when you get time, check out Buddy Miller “Worry Too Much”. It’s a thinking man’s song and I think you would love it, having read so many lyrics from the songs you love. Anyway, thanks and keep up the great work on the Braves.

Hankie Aron

February 21st, 2012
8:51 am

14 hour days. sorry folks

settle down

February 21st, 2012
8:54 am

Let this thing work itself out in spring training. Beachy won his spot last year when it was assumed it would be Minor. I’m beginning to think Kris Medlen is just sitting at a computer posting under different names

urban redneck

February 21st, 2012
9:47 am

medlen is really good but we don’t need a 5th starter. we need another long reliever………..plus he could easily sub for the O or the Vent portion of o’ventbrel.

how many pitchers do we usually carry on the 25 man roster? a lot of these guys are going to have to spend some time time at coolray.

VABravesFan

February 21st, 2012
10:24 am

Medlen will likely make his way to the rotation at some point during the season – whether it’s because he’s dominating from the ‘pen while another pitcher struggles or due to injury – hopefully, the rotation is able to remain intact and pitch well. Medlen is a big asset regardless of what his role may be.

count_schemula

February 21st, 2012
5:29 pm

I like Medlen in the pen. I don’t know if he has enough pitches to make it as a starter. He may prefer to start, but I love him as the first option out of the pen.

Prado’s problem is that Uggla mans his position. Love him, just wish he was at 2nd base.

74bravesjersey

February 23rd, 2012
11:38 am

Medlen has sweet movement on his slider,last game it was tantilizing! I believe he’s a diamond in the ruff that espn,mlb network etc… are going to be sayin’ where’s this dude been? According to them, all the Braves have is a descent bullpen, but ?’s on the offense & starters. They say we’re 2nd tier w/mets. Hey guys, strong focus 1 game ata time to prove the national atl haters wrong. Dig down deep for the tough grind & the long hall stayin’ on the fillies hide. It’s time to “Lock & Load boys, show em’ whatch’a made of. Fired up Braves! Fired up!

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