On Prado’s return, Hudson’s toughness, early arrivers

LAKE BUENA VISTA – First he had the worst season of his career. Then Martin Prado had an offseason that found him at the center of multiple trade rumors. Fun times.

Prado shrugged off winter trade rumors and said he's glad to be back with the teammates he loves.

Prado shrugged off winter trade rumors and said he's glad to be back with the teammates he loves.

But when he reported to spring training Monday, four days early for position players –- most other Braves lineup regulars arrived early, too — Prado harbored no hard feelings and showed the same attitude that always earned respect from teammates.

He’s heard or read plenty of comments the past several months from people opining about what happened to him last season.

“There was a lot of talk about what I didn’t do, why I didn’t have success,” said Prado, who hit .260 with a paltry .302 on-base percentage and .385 slugging percentage in 129 games in 2011, and missed five weeks for a staph infection that required surgery.

It was a major dropoff from the previous two seasons, when batted a combined .307 with a .354 OBP and .461 slugging percentage. He made the National League All-Star team as a second baseman in 2010.

“I know in my heart I tried my best [last season],” he said. “It didn’t happen the way I wanted it to be, but that’s the past. I’ve got a present and I’ve got a future. I’m looking for good things, good things for the team.”

I’ve got a present and I’ve got a future? Who talks like that? Prado does. God bless him.

Always a workout maven, Prado was determined this past winter to work out more intelligently, with an expert, in order to strengthen specific areas and try to avoid the kind of nagging injuries that have slowed him in the past, including groin injuries.

He spent much of the winter training at Braves spring training headquarters at Dark Star while living in a rental house in Orlando, where he is building a new home.

Prado worked out with Braves trainers, but and also did a lot of training with speed and strength coach Tom Shaw, who’s based out of ESPN’s Wide World of Sports, the massive sports complex where Braves headquarters are located, and he has a client roster that’s included dozens of NFL stars including Tom Brady and the Manning brothers.

Prado did a lot of drills designed to improve his explosiveness.

“After the season I just took a couple of weeks off, then got back at it,” he said. “I’ve got a challenge for this year, and that’s what I’m going to prepare for.”

He was asked about the staph infection and how much that played in his performance last year.

“I don’t want to make excuses,” he said. “It was hard for me because I was stuck for a month without doing any activity. But I don’t think that was completely [the problem].”

Chipper Jones (left) and Prado took groundballs at third base Monday. (Jason Getz photo/AJC)

Chipper Jones (left) and Prado took groundballs at third base Monday. (Jason Getz photo/AJC)

Indeed, he wasn’t up to his usual standards even before the staph infection. He hit .277 with a .324 OBP and 33 RBIs in 61 games before the staph, and .244 with a .283 OBP and 24 RBIs in 68 games after returning from the disabled list July 15.

Prado switched to a new position last spring after the Braves traded for second baseman Dan Uggla. He split time in 2010 between left field and third base, where he backs up Chipper Jones. He’ll have the same job description this season.

“After the season I just took a couple of weeks off, then got back at it,” Prado said. “I’ve got a challenge for this year, and that’s what I’m going to prepare for…. Now I have more of an idea what I need to do, because somedays you’re playing left field and some days third base. I guess just be ready mentally. That’s what I’m going to do.

He said the trade rumors didn’t bother him much, despite the fact that Prado is one of the most popular Braves in recent years and has developed a bond with his teammates and Atlanta fans.

“[Trade rumors] happen in every single sport,” he said. “I know what I can do, that part of my business I cannot control. 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 only went home to Venezuela for three weeks during the offseason. Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos was kidnapped in that country this winter, the latest in a series of celebrities or their families who’ve been kidnapped in Venezuela and held for ransom, including several relatives of major league players. Ramos was rescued two days later.

Prado’s mother still lives in Venezuela, along his sister and two brothers.

“Everybody knows [how bad the kidnapping problem is there],” Prado said. “I’ve been worried about that since four years ago. This is not something new that nobody knew. Everybody knows about it. But it’s not like I can say something in public, because it just makes it even worse.

“Everybody knows it but nobody does anything. So unfortunately you have to pay guards and other guys to protect your family. I don’t like it, but it’s what it is.”

Prado is building a home in the Dr. Phillips area of Orlando, not too far from Braves camp.

“I work out here, use the [batting] cages and all the facilities,” Prado said. “It’s a nice area, got everything around me. I don’t like it too busy; I’m not that kind of guy.”

♣ Early arrivers: I’ve never seen as many early reporting position players as there are at this year’s Braves camp. Among projected starting position players, only rookie shortstop Tyler Pastornicky and center fielder Michael Bourn hadn’t already reported by Monday, four days before non-catcher position players were due in.

Jason Heyward, one of the many early arriving position players, watches the flight of one of his long drives over the fence Monday at Champion Stadium.

Jason Heyward, one of the many early arriving position players, watches the flight of one of his long drives over the fence Monday at Champion Stadium. (Jason Getz photo/AJC)

Pastornicky is working out with backup shortstop Jack Wilson at Wilson’s house in California, where the Braves veteran has a full  infield in his backyard. Bourn has been spotted working out with the University of Houston baseball team in his hometown.

“There’s a lot of guys here,” said backup catcher David Ross, who thinks there are a couple of reasons for the big turnout.

“Spring training is starting a little later, that has a lot to do with it,” he said. “I got the itch about a week ago. You usually start your workout stuff at a certain time; I always start hitting and throwing Jan. 1. And this year I even started a couple days earlier because I was bored.

“By the time I get around this time, I’m ready to go [to spring training]. You’re over working out, you want to get here and compete. A lot of guys are anxious to get back and get started.”

The way the Braves finished last season, losing 20 of 30 in an epic slide that cost them the wild-card playoff berth, many were eager to get back to camp and take the first steps toward getting rid of the bitter taste from last year’s finish.

“I think it’s a good thing,” manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “We’re ready to go. I think last year we had a good group, but I think this group … we’ve got everybody here, pretty much.”

Gonzalez was asked if he thought there’s be any lingering effect from the way last eason ended, any kind of hangover or negative effect on this year’s team.

“I don’t think so,” he said. “That’s one thing you feel good about, coming out of last year nobody pointed fingers at anybody and everybody took responsibility including myself. We go forward. Can’t keep looking back in the rearview mirror.”

Other than Derek Lowe and Alex Gonzalez, the rest of the team returned intact. Ross said it wasn’t surprising that there was no backstabbing or blaming teammates.

“We’re not really that kind of group,” he said. “Guys keep it in house. I think everybody just feels like we didn’t play well. We don’t play the blame game.”

Like his manager, Ross doesn’t believe there will be lingering effects from September that could adversely affect this year’s squad.

“I think time will tell when the season starts, but I don’t see this group being that kind of group,” he said. “We never panicked coming down the stretch. We just don’t worry about that kind of stuff. We know everybody goes on the field and plays as hard as they can.”

Tough dude: To hear Tim Hudson describe what he endured to keep pitching the past couple of seasons, it provides a better understanding of a couple of things:

1. How tough most aging professional athletes have to be to keep going, and 2. how much stress that ballplayers, particularly pitchers, put on bodies doing things human bodies weren’t really designed to do. Things like throwing baseballs at 90-plus miles per hour thousands of times each season, year after year after year.

Tim Hudson (left) joins a group of pitchers and catchers during a running drill Monday. That's catcher Brian McCann out front.

Tim Hudson (left) joins a group of pitchers and catchers during a running drill Monday. That's catcher Brian McCann out front. (Jason Getz photo/AJC)

Hudson had surgery Nov. 28 to fuse the L5 and S1 vertebrae in his lower back. It was done because a degenerative disc was all but gone, pulverized, which created grinding movement between the vertebrae and sometimes excruciating pain and spasms.

“It’s been like that for about two years now,” said Hudson, who went 33-19 with a 3.02 ERA in 67 starts during 2009-2010, after missed most of ‘09 season recovering from Tommy John elbow surgery.

How’d he keep pitching when he sometimes had trouble bending over to tie his shoes or even get out of bed?

“In the season you have your anti-inflammatories, your epidurals, you have your therapy constantly,” Hudson said. “It’s just something you deal with. I just thought it was part of being an older player and doing the b.s. that you have to deal with physically. But after getting [his back] fixed, I’m just at 2-1/2 months now and feeling the relief that I have just from 2-1/2 months, it feels a thousand times better.

“If I want to play two, three or four more years, I feel comfortable that I can do it.”

Now listen to him describe the fusion surgery. Just to set this up, I’ll tell you that it’s done via what they call anterior approach, in which the physician goes at the spine from the front of the patient’s body by cutting an incision  inches below the belly button and then moving aside the abdominal muscles in order to reach the lower spine.

Yikes.

Hudson had hoped to at least put off back surgery until after he retired, but changed his mind after pain intensified during his early offseason workouts. That’s why the surgery wasn’t done until Nov. 28, after he’d began his offseason conditioning and realized his back was worse than ever.

“I think realistically, me getting back for the start of the season was never really a possibility” with the surgery done so late, he said. “A lot of people thought [it was a simple procedure to fix] a herniated disc. It was a fusion….

“My back feels really, really good. I’m doing stuff right now without discomfort that I probably haven’t done in probably seven or eight years [Like] putting my shoes on….

“There’s rehab and treatment that goes with it, because they went through my stomach. That can always be an issue, because they cut you open and go up through there. That’s the only thing that I’ve been really getting treatment on. They cut it right there and go in, and that heals up and scars up. Then you’ve got to make sure you’re using your stomach muscles to do everything.”

He was cleared to begin throwing until Feb. 10. Hudson was on the field playing catch Monday during the Braves’ first workout for pitchers and catchers, but isn’t expected to throw from a mound until mid-March. He’s aiming for a return around May 1.

“One thing that’s good is they don’t mess with any of your back muscles” during the surgery done from the front side, Hudson said. “So you’re not rehabbing your back, you’re just rehabbing your lower abdominal muscles.”

I asked if he was doing exercises such as stomach crunches. Even before I’d finished asking the question, I thought about it and realized it was probably a dumb one.

“My crunching days are over, because of my back,” Hudson said. “It’s plank stuff and stabilization, hips, a lot of glutes, a lot of groin [exercises]. That’s essentially what my rehab stuff is right now. Lot of hamstring stretching.

“But my back feels really, really good. I really don’t have any concerns with my back. I just want to make sure this core is going to be good. Because there’s always a chance, even without surgeries, there’s chances of stuff going on with the ab muscles, obliques, you know what I mean? Every year there’s people that tweak obliques, have hernias and groin problems … so it’s just something that you’ve got to gradually build your way up to game speed.

There's been a lot of wear and tear on 36-year-old Tim Hudson's back during the 170-pound pitcher's long career.

There's been a lot of wear and tear on 36-year-old Tim Hudson's back during the 170-pound pitcher's long career.

“It was baby steps for a long time. It gradually has done this [uses hand to demonstrate upward progress] every day. It’s a gradual thing, and it’s been steady….

“I’ve been working out now for three or four weeks in the weight room. From a strength standpoint, I’m not where I want to be. But I usually get that back pretty quick. I’m not limited at all in the weight room. Obviously I’m not doing squats and all that kind of craziness, but I haven’t done squats in eight years.

“I’m not limited at all with anything, just got to be smart. Do my rehab. I get X-rays about every four to six weeks, make sure that’s doing right.”

Hudson then described an interesting part of the back surgery performed by Dr. Steven Wray, a leading specialist.

“My disc was gone; it was essentially bone-on-bone,” Hudson said. “They gave me some room [between vertebrae] and inserted a sponge that has bone-producing proteins in it, in the sponge, and then screwed a plastic spacer over the outside of it. And in three to six months that sponge will produce a solid, fused bone in between your two vertebrae. So that’s the fusion.

“The last X-rays I took it was solid bone between there, but it was soft bone; it was like spongy bone. They said in three to six months it will be as hard as rock.”

Yes, they get paid a lot of money to play a kid’s game. But some parts of it ain’t exactly fun.

♣ Etc.

David Ross was thickly muscled before, particularly his tree-trunk legs. But this year the veteran catcher is stockier in his upper body. It was by design after he increased the intensity of his offseason weight workouts. “Last year I was trying to get skinny like everybody else,” said Ross, who hit .263 with a .428 slugging percentage, after hitting .289/.479 in ’10 and .273/.508 in .09. “I looked good, but I’d rather hit the ball in the trees.”…

Until Grapefruit League games begin, Braves daily workouts start at 10 a.m. except this Saturday-Sunday, when they’re moved back to 1 p.m. because of team physicals….

Something to keep in mind when considering the battle for the last bullpen spots: Cristhian Martinez and Jairo Asencio are the only Braves roster candidates who are out of minor-league options, meaning they’d have to clear waivers before they could be sent to the minors.

♣ OK, let’s close with a great Tom Waits tune, which you can hear by clicking this link. Also, if those who enjoy the music tangents by your blogmeister, you might be interested in this long-form interview I did with a great Louisville radio station, WFPK 91.9 FM, wherein we discussed baseball, sports, and a lot of my favorite music from outlaw country to The Clash, The Replacements and Public Enemy. You can here it by clicking here or by plugging this into your browser: Afterdark.wfpk.org

tomwaits1_93x383

“CLAP HANDS” by Tom Waits

Sane, sane they’re all insane
The fireman’s blind, the conductors lame
A Cincinatti jacket and a sad luck dame
Hanging out the window with a bottle full of rain
Clap hands, Clap hands
Clap hands, Clap hands

Said roar, roar the thunder and the roar
Son of a bitch is never comin’ back here no more
Moon in the window; a bird on the pole
Can always find a millionaire to shovel all the coal

Clap hands, Clap hands
Clap hands, Clap hands

Steam, steam a hundred bad dreams
Goin’ up to Harlem with a pistol in his jeans
A fifty dollar bill inside in Palladin’s hat
And nobody’s sure where Mr. Knickerbocker’s at

Said roar, roar the thunder and the roar
Son of a bitch is never comin’ back here no more
Moon in the window; a bird on the pole
Can always find a millionaire to shovel all the coal

Shine, shine a Roosevelt dime
All the way to Baltimore and runnin’ out of time
Salvation Army seemed to wind up in the hole
They all went to Heaven in the little row boat

Clap hands, Clap hands
Clap hands, Clap hands

– by David O’Brien, Braves/MIB blog

 

1,088 comments Add your comment

Fredi Will Screw It Up Somehow

February 21st, 2012
2:38 am

It all sounds good but….
<—–

ChrisfromSacramento,Ca

February 21st, 2012
2:38 am

Heyward sucks. Trade him!

He can take JJ or Hanson with him and get a real hitter to play right field. Go chop some wood J-Hey

Melissa

February 21st, 2012
2:50 am

You know Spring Training has begun when DOB posts a ridiculously long blog at 2 am. Hooray!!!

nolie

February 21st, 2012
2:58 am

and at least one idiot immediately responds to it……. ;)

Ward

February 21st, 2012
3:41 am

A a new blog,and good one!Excited about prado already……

Ward

February 21st, 2012
3:44 am

I believe in Heyward,and Prado,and I believe in them both having a great year! Go get them boys…….Prove all the doubters wrong.Was surprised on the new blog. Great work as always DOB……..Talk tomorrow,and peace……….”Go!!!!!Braves!!!!!.”

Frank from Ks (now in CO)

February 21st, 2012
3:51 am

Well, well, well…is it that time again?…..(LOL)

Didn’t we just get done, with the WS?

Lol

Bob the Blogger

February 21st, 2012
4:19 am

If Hudson pitched at an elite level with an injured back, imagine how well he may pitch this year being healthy. He must be one tough hombre.

Key West Conch

February 21st, 2012
5:04 am

In Prado, I believe! We will have an excellent year. Count on it! Heyward, I’ll watch and hope. Chipper, stay healthy? Play at least 120 games in good health! Hit to the gaps and for average! Our pitching will be solid, and depending on how the young guns look, and old ones, for that matter, you will most likely see a trade and an upgrade to the bats. Watch and wait.
Spring and hope – eternal! Great time of the year! Lets roll!

Couch Tater

February 21st, 2012
5:23 am

Once Prado’s new house is built, maybe his mom can move in.

…and mama can start blogging from her son’s basement.

Couch Tater

February 21st, 2012
5:41 am

Good luck, Hudson.

I thought Auburn had a Veterinary school. Huh, must be cheaper.

jeffrey d

February 21st, 2012
5:58 am

Thanks for the new blog, DOB. Great work, as always

jeffrey d

February 21st, 2012
5:59 am

If I was the AJC caption guy, I would’ve said something like “Krisp Kreme opens branch near Dark Star” http://blogs.ajc.com/atlanta-braves-blog/files/2012/02/slideshow_1002320585_022112Braves12.JPG

jeffrey d

February 21st, 2012
6:04 am

Heyward sucks. Trade him!

Can’t argue that logic.

jeffrey d

February 21st, 2012
6:08 am

Who had “15″ in the “somebody’s going to say something stupid” poll?

ncgary

February 21st, 2012
6:12 am

i take credit for that d

jeffrey d

February 21st, 2012
6:15 am

Then kudos to ncgary, the greatest blogger in the history of blogs!

nolie

February 21st, 2012
6:17 am

Can there really be THAT many idiots around who are all upset about Chipper being a bit heavy, or is it just the same idiot reinforcing his crap under another name?

nolie

February 21st, 2012
6:18 am

someone said something stupid in the first two posts jd

Obee

February 21st, 2012
6:21 am

Looks like it should have been “2″

ncgary

February 21st, 2012
6:38 am

i figure the latter nolie
but you know how the lemming mentality
likes to pile on

ncgary

February 21st, 2012
6:51 am

i’m glad my metabolism hasn’t slowed down yet
the way i eat , i ought to weigh 400 lbs

Reid in EAV

February 21st, 2012
6:53 am

Ah Spring, where every hitter is a stud, every pitcher a hoss, every kid with something to prove a phenom in waiting and 162-0 feels like a real possibility. I love it. :)

That said, I had a much less intense spinal fusion (posterior approach) right where my neck meets my back, with two vertebrae brought together by a small piece of titanium. And the early days of my recovery were sheer he11. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. Huge respect to Huddy for enduring that and making his way back to the mound.

David O'Brien

February 21st, 2012
6:59 am

Sunrise over Lake Bryan on the Dark Star perimeter

http://twitpic.com/8mrrlu

Couch Tater

February 21st, 2012
7:04 am

I just read Joe Posnanski’s article about knuckleballers. He’s right. What kid hasn’t tried to throw that pitch? Mine always landed in the dirt about 10 feet short of the catcher.

Posnanski has lost cred, though. Phil Niekro’s is shown in an Indian’s uniform.

ncgary

February 21st, 2012
7:10 am

any of you stat geeks want to find out
how many games niekro lost where he gave up 3 or fewer earned runs?
just a guess but i say at least 125

Couch Tater

February 21st, 2012
7:13 am

DOB, It’s Fat Tuesday! Chipper and McCann stories for beads.

richbrave

February 21st, 2012
7:27 am

Thanx DAVID for the HUDSON update and insight. I’m soaking it up, and relaying as much as i can to my grandson’s.

Chris from the Rock

February 21st, 2012
7:28 am

I’m not worried one bit about Prado and Heyward, as I’m certain they’ll return to form. It’s Diaz I’m concerned with. The guy hit zero HRs last year. Sure, he’s a great teammate, but the Braves would be better off with a low-risk signing of someone like Ordonez to play against lefties. He’s practically a cigar store Indian in the OF, but certainly no worse than Diaz. Too bad there won’t be any trade partners lined up for Diaz and his $2M contract.

Mudminnow

February 21st, 2012
7:30 am

Welcome back baseball !! DOB, you are simply the best. Outstanding, fact filled blog. This is the kind of in depth info you typically have to have a subscription account for. Thank you.

ncgary

February 21st, 2012
7:35 am

mmmm artisian bread toasted and cream cheese spread
with hot blueberries on top
not bacon and eggs but pretty darn good

richbrave

February 21st, 2012
7:37 am

Chris from the Rock:

DIAZ is no GARRETT ANDERSON on defense at least. maybe he bounces back this year at the plate.

BraveDan

February 21st, 2012
7:41 am

Beautiful picture, wish i was there in person. Hope to make it to spring training one of these years, probably after retirement.

BraveDan

February 21st, 2012
7:41 am

Great new blog too!!!

Ken Griffey Jr.

February 21st, 2012
7:41 am

So nice to see you and Huddy getting along…LOL

DetroitBraves

February 21st, 2012
7:46 am

I doubt the Braves’ fate rests on the shoulders of Matt Diaz. But whatever really. I’m much less concerned about the players than the man running the team. I like DOB and apparently the players do too. There is a lot of value in that. But I wish the AJC had sort of the bad cop to DOB’s good cop to ask Fredi the uncomfortable questions: why do you let your weaker hitters hit for themselves in close and late situations? Why do you elect to pitch to Matt Kemp with the winning run on second and a base open in the bottom of the 10th? Why do you use Venters in 6-1 contests when one of the chief criticisms of your tactics is your overuse of the young relievers? Why do you configure your lineups such that the players most likely to make outs get the most at-bats? Why did you attend the SABR conference but apply no SABR principles? And make him provide real answers. If he provides fluff ask again, and again, and again…maybe he’ll even begin to adapt. More likely he’ll just be exposed. There is value in that as well.

Couch Tater

February 21st, 2012
7:49 am

Nice morning photo.

Red sky in the morning, broadcaster’s take warning.
Skyy read at night, Skip’s delight.

Rufio

February 21st, 2012
7:50 am

I had the exact same surgery that Hudson had except my surgery was done through the back (posterior) vs. through the belly button. That was 4 years ago……I am lucky to bend over pick up a ball and throw it to my Golden Retriever. I can’t imagine hurling a ball 90+ mph, fielding the position, plus going to bat 3 times a game.

If Huddy bounces back from back surgery like he did elbow surgery I am going have to get a Hudson Jersey because he will be my hero! Actually, he already is with the way he and his wife have been great citizens of Atlanta through the Hudson Family Foundation

Good luck Huddy!

richbrave

February 21st, 2012
7:50 am

Over the winter

New arms in the org.

ROBERT FISH – Rule five LHRP
4 – CHRIS JONES -LOWE trade LHRP
3 – BRAVES acquired a third LH pitcher over the winter, SP ‘Dusty’ HUGHES.

I’ll keep an eye out for him, and of course ROBERT FISH, and CHRIS JONES to see how they progress this season.

4 – Righties include ADAM RUSSELL [not ANDREW the AUSSIE].
5 – JASON RICE.

2011 arms

And they re-signed lefty reliefers

1 – YOHAN FLANDE
2 – JOSE LUGO

DetroitBraves

February 21st, 2012
7:57 am

Robert Fish will have to kept on the 25 man ML roster or, more likely, returned to the Angels. Sounds like he has an arm but it’s difficult for a contending team to roster a Rule 5 pick for an extended period of time.

Jeff R

February 21st, 2012
8:12 am

Both Prado and Hudson are thorough pros and class guys. I think Prado will make a strong comeback and Hudson will pick up where he left off last season.

Oh, and nice pic of sunrise at Dark Star, DOB.

richbrave

February 21st, 2012
8:13 am

Second time Rule 5. Release costs us $50,000 and he becomes a FA.

richbrave

February 21st, 2012
8:15 am

Michael C.

February 21st, 2012
8:26 am

“Always a workout maven”. Who writes like that? DOB does. God bless him.

flange1

February 21st, 2012
8:33 am

Thanks for the new blog DOB!

DetroitBraves

February 21st, 2012
8:39 am

Didn’t realize he was a second time Rule 5 guy. I wonder how often that happens. I see it happened twice in the last Rule 5 draft. My intuition tells me it’s not very common but I have no idea. I also don’t know if anything changed about the Rule 5 draft in the new CBA.

The Bravenator

February 21st, 2012
8:47 am

Heyward either performs to expectations or gets labeled the latest version of Brad Komminsk. We’ll know by June. Either way, the Braves are short at least one consistent power bat. FG is a deer in the headlights against the likes of a Tony LaRussa and his in-game management is horrible. It’s tough when the players are constantly in the position of having to overcome managerial ineptitude. FW wishes in vain for more budget, but would blow it anyway. Third place here we come.

Hankie Aron

February 21st, 2012
8:52 am

DOB- I know you have no time as you are in full spring training 14 hour 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.

Lemke's Knuckler

February 21st, 2012
8:59 am

“David Ross was thickly muscled before, particularly his tree-trunk legs”

A few years into my marriage, I was attempting to compliment my wife on her well-sculpted legs (she was a professional modern dancer) and used that very same phrase, tree-trunk legs. How do you guys think that worked out for me? Still married 10 years later, but that was a close one. Whew!

ncgary

February 21st, 2012
9:00 am

manny is happy today
signed a minor league contract with the a’s
500 k if he makes the mlb minus his suspension days

ncscoots

February 21st, 2012
9:08 am

Either way, the Braves are short at least one consistent power bat

Chhipper, McCann, Uggla, Heyward, Freeman. Five guys capable of 20+ dingers, or, at least, a 20+ HR rate. They are hardly short of thump. Even folks saddled with the gray-colored glasses ought to be able to see that. I’m afraid you’ll have to find another reason for your pessimism.

urban redneck

February 21st, 2012
9:19 am

i wouldn’t exactly call that a “running” drill……………..

i love the hopeless optimism i feel every year. whoo hoo!!

ncgary

February 21st, 2012
9:19 am

scoots don’t you know nothing short of 8 thumpers and 5 pitchers who can thump it and 7 relievers who can thump it and 5 bench players who can thump it will make them happy

Lew

February 21st, 2012
9:21 am

Yeah, because asking those uncomfortable questions is so worthwhile and you’ll always get the answer you want. Sure you will.

ncscoots

February 21st, 2012
9:26 am

don’t you know nothing short of

Yes, but refuting the premise may help others here who are not quite so obtuse. :-) Gotta look for the silver lining, says I.

I’ve come to see that even the most pessimistic poster here has a place in the forum. Doesn’t mean I have to read all the griping, or respond to it, but that kind of stuff isn’t going away and I no longer yearn for the days of the blog when N8 was the only crybaby, LOL. Haters gonna hate; end of story.

Lew

February 21st, 2012
9:27 am

Several here seem to believe that because Martinez and Asencio are both without options, that there is some kind of competition between them for a pen spot.

I’m not seeing it like that. They are two different pitchers and even were both on the staff, their duties are completely different. Asencio is a RH reliever with not much (and it not that great) MLB experience and will be a RH vs RH option or someone to go an inning every now and then while Martinez has a successful MLB track record (3.36 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 6.5 H/9, 6.7 K/9) and has pitched as much as 6 innings – and if Medlen starts, he will be the long reliever. And even then he will be insurance against overuse of the Big Three.

In other words, Martinez did well and made a substantial contribution to an overworked pen – Asencio had a good winter. Besides – I’d say iof there was a fight for a spot in the pen, that it would be between Asencio and Varvaro and not Martinez.

Orange Brave f/k/a Billy Jack's BBQ

February 21st, 2012
9:28 am

Uh well, ncscoots, look at the team’s offensive numbers. I am not singling anyone out, but it would be nice to have a legitimate “threat” in the lineup. Something we have lacked since Chipper’s hey day (and I am a Chipper fan) and Andrew Jones.

In other words there is nobody (right now) that throws fear into a pitcher – save Uggla’s hitting streak last year.

Are we capable? yes, definitely. But does the Braves lineup throw fear into opposing pitchers? hardly.

Ask me on May 15th.

ncscoots

February 21st, 2012
9:37 am

In other words there is nobody (right now) that throws fear into a pitcher – save Uggla’s hitting streak last year.

Good thing they aren’t playing “right now”, huh? :-)

If you place your vision of the future squarely in the recent past, then such a concern might be well-founded. However, if you put value on players’ history other than a career-worst year, if you honestly evaluate the skills and talent of the nominal everyday 8 on this club, it’s hard to come away without a bright outlook. But maybe that’s just me.

bvillebaron

February 21st, 2012
9:39 am

Hard to not root for a guy like Prado.

richbrave

February 21st, 2012
9:39 am

ncscoots
February 21st, 2012
9:08 am

Either way, the Braves are short at least one consistent power bat

Chhipper, McCann, Uggla, Heyward, Freeman. Five guys capable of 20+ dingers, or, at least, a 20+ HR rate

scoots:

I sure hope you’re right on the money in the case of CHIPPER. I would love to see him activate his option clause with 123 games minimum this season, and 20+ HR’s.

ncscoots

February 21st, 2012
9:43 am

I sure hope you’re right on the money in the case of CHIPPER.

Unfortunately, that’s why I threw in the caveat of “rate”. Ole Hoss has to get enough appearances to make a counting stat work. Still, the point was that, when he’s in the lineup, he has the potential to hit dingers probably as often as anybody on the club, save Uggla.

jeffrey d

February 21st, 2012
9:44 am

So it was just a bad pic? Chipper didn’t spend the offseason with McCann’s trainer?

richbrave

February 21st, 2012
9:45 am

Still say if CHIPPER doesn’t come back in 2013, it wouldn’t bother me to see him finish out in the AL, if it allowed him to DH and concentrate solely on his hitting. I think he could play that way for another two-three season’s and be productive.

Joey

February 21st, 2012
9:47 am

Gotta love Martin – hope he has a healthy, and much more typical Prado season.

Joey

February 21st, 2012
9:47 am

Gotta love Martin – hope he has a healthy, and much more typical Prado season.

Bill

February 21st, 2012
9:47 am

Thanks DOB for info..I just spend 29 mins and 42 sec listening to your interview on FPK After Dark. That was Great! I have a greater respect for your musical knowledge now. I must say I agree with your take on Country music and todays so called country music. Oh well enough for now on music..Thanks again ..Go Braves!

richbrave

February 21st, 2012
9:49 am

I wouldn’t selfishly want him to retire a BRAVE just because fielding diminished his ability to continue hitting effectively. At least for a couple more years. The guy loves the game. He should be allowed to continue playing as long as possible even if in another uniform. I’d still root for him as long as it was in the A.L.

richbrave

February 21st, 2012
9:51 am

MARTEEEEEEEEN!!!! Not nearly enough of that on the ol’ blog last season.

Lemke's Knuckler

February 21st, 2012
9:52 am

Braves were 3rd in the NL in homers last year, so I don’t think thump is the problem. The problem was all the homers came with nobody on base, as they were 13th in OBP. Also they were 15th in doubles and dead last in triples. I honestly don’t care how many guys hit over 20 homers, as long as the overall slugging improves. I’d rather have 5 guys with 35+ doubles than 6 guys with 20+ homers. But that’s just me, I’m not a chick and I don’t dig the long ball as much as others.

Juan

February 21st, 2012
9:53 am

richbrave….More like MARTIIIIIIIIIIIN!!!

McFann ;Ô; ;Ô; ;ô;

February 21st, 2012
9:55 am

Thanks for the new Blog, Chief! Really int’resting stuff about Timmy…sounds like a kinda nasty surgery…

RHR

February 21st, 2012
9:56 am

It was a pic without under armor aka man spanx. He looked back to normal in his uniform in the pics from yesterday, with his under armor on so that tells me he’s no bigger than last year. He’s 40 years old. He has a gut. Still one of the best.

Juan

February 21st, 2012
9:58 am

DOB: Any update on Hanson head?

Joey

February 21st, 2012
9:59 am

Great stuff DOB.

Keep it coming!

PMC

February 21st, 2012
10:00 am

It’s impossible not to like Martin Prado. He’s the kind of player you want on a roster that not only can do a lot but is willing to pull more than his load. Obviously he tried hard last year it just didn’t work out.

I blame the Braves management more for his struggles than him, he’s a natural second baseman, they didn’t have to go get Uggla, they could have found a left fielder… (oh wait, that’s not really a strong suit for the Braves) They are simply lucky to have a guy in the majors no less that is this selfless.

Here’s hoping Prado can get his numbers back up. Pulling for him.

ncscoots

February 21st, 2012
10:01 am

I honestly don’t care how many guys hit over 20 homers, as long as the overall slugging improves.

One follows the other, I think, unless you have a whole squad of three-outcome guys, which the Braves don’t.

BTW, 6 guys X 20 dingers evaluates to 168 runs (120 * 1.4); 5 guys X 35 doubles evaluates to 135 runs (175 * .77). From a strictly math standpoint, I want the bangers. :-)

PMC

February 21st, 2012
10:02 am

I mean the guy is playing Left Field everyday and at least 35 games at 3rd base, because they haven’t addressed the issue of succession planning either. Struggles are natural.

Juan

February 21st, 2012
10:03 am

“Everybody knows [how bad the kidnapping problem is there],” Prado said. “I’ve been worried about that since four years ago.

This problem is Big more than having an injury…you worry about your family anytime.
Question is if this Venezuelan player has a Working Visa or a resident Visa?
Can Martin bring his Familty here?

DWW

February 21st, 2012
10:08 am

Has the tv schedule been released for the grapefruit league games?

David O'Brien

February 21st, 2012
10:12 am

Hanson has Grade 1 concussion, the least serious of the three grades. He’ll do no activities for 48 hours, then be eased back in. Probably will miss about 4-5 days of heavier activities, though that’s not certain. Could be shorter, probably won’t be longer.

He left with trainer to go back to doctor for day-after reevaluation this morning, didn’t talk to media.

Soph

February 21st, 2012
10:12 am

Thanks as always, DOB!

Marteeeeeeeeeeeeeen.

raleighbravefan

February 21st, 2012
10:15 am

scoots@ 9:26 – I agree that “even the most pessimistic poster has a place here on the blog”, and a right to voice their opinion…tiresome as it may sometimes be.
The more negative they get, the more fun it will be to say “I told you so” when they are wrong…and if they are right, I still love and support my team, and will say “wait ’til next year”…I know that isn’t enough for many here, but I do feel it is being realistic.

Bob the Blogger

February 21st, 2012
10:19 am

Bill:
The best description I’ve heard concerning today’s country music is that it is just “bad rock-n-roll”. I want a bumper sticker that says “Make your so called music, but can we have the name back?”

Lew

February 21st, 2012
10:21 am

Juan – I believe that Martin has been able to bring his family to the U.S. every summer, but it is for a limited time – several months or so, probably as long as the season goes on.

Who knows what’s going on – immigration is likely un-understandable and totally lacking in logic. Maybe the fact that he’s building a home in Orlando may help the situation. Hope so. He’s a good Dude.

jeffrey d

February 21st, 2012
10:24 am

Still say if CHIPPER doesn’t come back in 2013, it wouldn’t bother me to see him finish out in the AL

Logically, it makes sense. But gosh, can you picture Chipper wearing another uniform?

jeffrey d

February 21st, 2012
10:25 am

ouch…..get better, Tommy

Murph

February 21st, 2012
10:30 am

So now when Hanson starts throwing them into the stands we’ll be left to wonder, is it the new delivery or the post-concussion syndrome that’s got him totally screwed up?

It’s always something.

ncgary

February 21st, 2012
10:30 am

best case scenario for chipper would be to implement the dh in both leagues

Danga

February 21st, 2012
10:36 am

From what I remember of last season it wasn’t so much a lack of dingers that hurt us, but an absence of men on base when those dingers were sailing over the fence. Spring training is a time of ifs, and if a couple of guys bounce back from bad seasons then the O will be fine. I am a bit concerned about our infield D, but hopefully a couple of the O ifs will turn out in a positive direction and it won’t matter so much.

Juan

February 21st, 2012
10:38 am

Lew….I think Martin qualify for Political Asylum, with the kidnaping problem in his Country, not only in Venezuela also in Mexico, i think he qualify becuase his country Govertment didn’t resolve or reduce the Problem…here part of the asylum qualification…

Asylum eligibility has three basic requirements. First, an asylum applicant must establish that he or she fears persecution.[2] Second, the applicant must prove that he or she would be persecuted on account of a protected ground. The five protected grounds are race, religion, nationality, political opinion, and social group. Third, an applicant must establish that the government is either involved in the persecution, or unable to control the conduct of private actors.

Orange Brave f/k/a Billy Jack's BBQ

February 21st, 2012
10:39 am

a few beers will cure a concussion (or cause one)

ncscoots

February 21st, 2012
10:41 am

Danga, where you been, man? Or have I just missed seeing your moniker?

Dr. Phil

February 21st, 2012
10:42 am

Wow! Hudson sounds like the tin man.

Danga

February 21st, 2012
10:43 am

DH in both leagues?

Just the thought makes me vomit a little. Why don’t we get someone to play D for the pitchers also? We should probably have designated runners for catchers also since they don’t run so well.

Lew

February 21st, 2012
10:43 am

Juan – Could be – like I said, rules or no rules, it’s an insane system. For the sake of Martin and his family, he’ll get them over here and able to remain. I’m sure he has a legal team working on a possible solution because after talking to him at Spring Training a couple years ago, I know it’s weighing on him heavily.

McFann ;Ô; ;Ô; ;ô;

February 21st, 2012
10:46 am

Thanks for the update on Tommy, DOB!

Runnin

February 21st, 2012
10:47 am

Thanks for the Waits song. Never heard that one before.

Danga

February 21st, 2012
10:49 am

Hiya Scoots. I’ve been MIA for the offseason. All over the country testing out different residency spots. Actually in Guatemala right now trying to learn a little Spanish, but gotta get my Spring Training fix.

ncscoots

February 21st, 2012
10:51 am

Actually in Guatemala right now trying to learn a little Spanish,

Couldn’t you have just gone with Rosetta Stone and saved the airfare? :-)

Lemke's Knuckler

February 21st, 2012
10:53 am

ncscoots…”One follows the other, I think, unless you have a whole squad of three-outcome guys, which the Braves don’t. BTW, 6 guys X 20 dingers evaluates to 168 runs (120 * 1.4); 5 guys X 35 doubles evaluates to 135 runs (175 * .77). From a strictly math standpoint, I want the bangers”

You quit with all your saber bullying :-) If you look at the 2011 stats, the Braves had one of the more statistically unusual seasons. They finished 3rd in homers and 10th in overall slugging. That’s hard to do with the way slg is calculated. Like I said, they were dead last in combined doubles/triples.

I’m of the opinion that doubles extend innings more than homers do. Don’t get me wrong, I think the 3-run homer has the most impact on game outcome as anything, but teams that tear up the gaps typically have a better shot of putting up 4+ run innings, which is really all this team needs to win with this pitching staff.

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