Archive for February, 2012

Minor starts ahead of Teheran, Delgado in No. 5 race

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – The Braves’ No. 5 starter competition is a three-man race between Mike Minor and top prospects Julio Teheran and Randall Delgado, but Minor is ahead of the other two at the starting line.

A year ago, he lost the No. 5 starter job to Brandon Beachy in spring training.

“But unlike last spring when he was on equal footing with Beachy, this spring he’s coming in ahead of the other guys,” Braves general manager Frank Wren said. “He’s the incumbent.”

That will come as good news for Minor, who says if the Braves don’t have room for him in their starting rotation this season, they might as well trade him.

“I’ve been in Triple-A all last year pretty much,” he said, “and the year before I had some time [in the majors]. I’m getting older every year, so there’s no reason for me to be sitting in Triple-A.”

Minor, 24, was 5-3 with a 4.14 ERA in 15 major league starts last season. He went 5-1 with a 3.51 ERA in his last 10, with 59 strikeouts and 16 walks in …

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Hanson (concussion) feeling better, recounts wreck

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – As Tommy Hanson’s car careened down an embankment and across a field Monday morning, the Braves pitcher wasn’t thinking about his career or his life being in danger.

“I was just trying to get the car to stop,” said Hanson, who wasn’t sure what caused the blowout of his right-front tire that he said sent him barreling off a curve on a road near the Braves’ spring-training site.

“I couldn’t get it to stop. I don’t know if it was because the tires were flat, or just that I was in a car in a bunch of soft sand and dirt. But I went for a while, probably 90 feet.”

Hanson, who was driving to training camp for the Braves’ opening workout when the one-car accident happened, felt fortunate to escape with only a Grade 1 concussion and no broken bones, cuts or serious contusions.

He’s missed the first four days of pitchers-and-catchers workouts and probably won’t suit up until Monday, as the Braves follow post-concussion protocols and ease him back into action …

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With Bourn in, the gang’s (almost) all here

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Michael Bourn’s arrival to spring training made it seven of eight projected Braves lineup regulars in camp two days before the official reporting day for the team’s position players. Some have been here since last week.

Center fielder Michael Bourn joined the growing ranks of early arrivers when he reported to spring training on Wednesday. (Jason Getz photo/AJC)

Center fielder Michael Bourn joined the growing ranks of early arrivers when he reported to spring training on Wednesday. (Jason Getz photo/AJC)

The only one left is rookie shortstop Tyler Pastornicky. But before any more folks get the wrong idea that he’s some kind of straggler, you should know what he’s been doing.

Pastornicky has been in California the past week working out with Jack Wilson, the veteran shortstop he befriended last year when Pastornicky was called up by the injury-plagued big clulb on the final day of the season.

Wilson was re-signed last month by the Braves as a utility infielder and backup to Pastornicky — and a mentor who can show the kid the ropes.

Braves officials were enthused upon hearing that Pastornicky …

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Hanson still out; Teheran/Delgado not ‘pen options

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Tommy Hanson missed his third consecutive workout day since sustaining a concussion in a one-car accident on Monday, when he went off the road while driving to the ballpark for the Braves’ opening workout.

The 6-foot-6 pitcher was diagnosed with a Grade 1 concussion and manager Fredi Gonzalez said the Braves would be cautious easing him back into action, perhaps beginning on Thursday.

“I think he’s going to come out tomorrow and just do a little bit of stuff,” said Gonzalez, who said Hanson would likely begin with some work on a stationary bike. “But we might not see him on the field, until we make sure that he gets cleared.”

Hanson has not spoken with reporters since the accident and hasn’t suited up for the first three days of workouts for pitchers and catchers. The Braves’ first full-squad workout is Saturday.

Gonzalez said he didn’t think missing the first five days of workouts would set Hanson back. He confirmed Hanson and Jurrjens are leading …

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Bourn: Focus on preparing for season, not contract

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – A contract extension wasn’t high on the priority list for Michael Bourn when the Braves center fielder reported to spring training on Wednesday.

“Playing and getting ready for the season is pretty much all I’m focused on,” said Bourn, who’s eligible for free agency after the 2012 season and represented by hard-driving agent Scott Boras.

Bourn said he’ll concentrate on preparing for the season and that Boras would let him know if there was anything brewing in a potential contract offer.

“You know, [Boras] is pretty good at his craft so we’ll see,” Bourn said, smiling. “I’ve got to take care of my business first, though.”

The National League’s stolen-base leader each of the past three seasons, Bourn is in first Braves spring training after being traded from Houston at the July 31 trade deadline. He hit .294 with a .349 on-base percentage and 61 stolen bases in 2011, including .278 with a .321 OBP and 22 steals in 53 games for the Braves.

Bourn avoided …

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Uggla: Increased biceps and comfort level

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Dan Uggla and his arms,  bigger than ever, entered the Braves clubhouse Tuesday reporting early for duty.

Year 2 of the Uggs Era surely cannot be stranger than the first Braves season was for the second baseman with thigh-sized biceps. He’d prefer it be steadier, and things already feel  more normal for him.

“It’s different already, a more comfortable feeling,” said Uggla, who said he no longer feels pressure to prove anything, not like last spring when he had received a five-year, $62 million contract extension before ever playing a game for the Braves.

“I already know where my place is on this team,” said Uggla, who had a career-low .233 average, but a career-high 36 homers and an Atlanta-record 33-game hitting streak. “I already know that everybody here respects me as a ballplayer, the way I go about my business. Now it’s not like trying to set the stage.”

His hitting streak that was the sixth-longest in the majors in the past three …

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Braves single tickets to go on sale March 5

Braves single tickets for the 2012 season will go on sale Monday, March 5 at 10 a.m. on Braves.com/tickets, the ticket office at Turner Field, the Braves Clubhouse Store at CNN Center and all Publix Ticketmaster outlets, or by calling 1-800-745-3000.

The team will also hold a pre-sale for season ticket holders of packages of 20 games or more from Friday, Feb. 24 through Tuesday, Feb. 28. The team will hold a second pre-sale on Thursday, March 1 and Friday, March 2 for fans who register at braves.com/presale by Tuesday, Feb. 28 at 11:59 p.m.

Some dates of note include the Braves home opener on Friday, April 13 against the Brewers (magnetic season schedules courtesy of Georgia Power will be donated to the first 45,000 fans Friday and Saturday nights of opening weekend, April 13-14). Sid Bream Bobblehead night is June 9 vs. the Blue Jays, Craig Kimbrel Bobblehead night is June 13 vs. the New York Yankees and Chipper Jones Bobblehead night is Aug. 16 vs. the Padres.

The Braves are …

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Catching prospects catch Gonzalez’s attention

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — In his second Braves camp as manager,  Fredi Gonzalez likes what he sees from the organization’s up-and-coming catchers.

Highly regarded prospect Christian Bethancourt, 20, and strapping Evan Gattis, 24, were among the catchers in a hitting group late in Tuesday’s batting practice on the main field at Champion Stadium.

Listed at 6-4 and 230 pounds, Gattis won the South Atlanta League batting title at Class A Rome by batting .322 with 22 homers, 71 RBIs and a .386 OBP in just 88 games. He was older than most in A-ball because he was once out of baseball for four years, struggling with personal problems including a drug problem.

“I was joking with [roving catching instructor] Joe Breeden,” said Gonzalez, also a former minor league catcher. “I said ‘Man, we’ve finally got some guys that look like catchers.’ They’re all 6-2, 240. Gattis is a monster. And Bethancourt looks like he could put some weight on him.”

Gattis is old school at the plate, …

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Hanson has minor concussion, likely out a few days

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Tommy Hanson has a Grade 1 concussion from a one-car accident he was in Monday morning, and the Braves pitcher could miss a few more days of workouts.

Grade 1 is the least serious of three grades of concussions.

“We’re going to sit him out for 48 hours and then bring him back gradually,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “He’ll be here after the 48 hours and then maybe ride the bike for a little bit [first day back]. He might not be on the field for a couple of days after that.”

Hanson, 25, wrecked his car while driving to the Braves’ spring-training headquarters before the team’s first workout Monday. The 6-foot-6 Californian told team officials he blew a tire and went off the road while rounding a curve.

It was unclear if he hit a curb or was distracted, but Braves officials said there was no reason to suspect alcohol or any other illegal substances were involved.

No other vehicles were involved and there apparently was no police involvement or …

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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 …

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