Archive for March, 2012

NL East looks like a beast, but Braves still like chances

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – The National League East has become a beast, and many experts are picking the Braves to finish no better than third or fourth in the division in 2012.

But while acknowledging bold offseason moves by the up-and-coming Washington Nationals and stadium revenue-boosted Miami Marlins, Braves players say their own team is capable of holding off the upstarts and nouveau riche and making another run at the Philadephia Phillies.

“That’s what you play this sport for, to have competition, to have a challenge,” Braves left fielder Martin Prado said. “This is what we’re looking for. This is the kind of season where either you put all your money in, or you’re out. So I’m putting all in.”

After the Braves lost 20 of their final 30 games in 2011 and were eliminated from the wild-card race on the final day of the season, general manager Frank Wren rolled the dice by not making any major additions and putting faith in the Braves’ ability to play as …

Continue reading NL East looks like a beast, but Braves still like chances »

Jurrjens eases some concerns, Uggla stays hot in 11-1 win

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – With just over a week left in spring training, Jair Jurrjens finally gave the Braves reason for encouragement.

The veteran pitched six innings of three-hit ball in an 11-1 win Sunday against a Houston Astros split squad, trimming his bloated ERA by more than 2-1/2 runs in one game and pitching for the first time all spring like someone who could be the Braves’ opening day starter.

Freddie Freeman hit two home runs, Brian McCann hit his second homer of the spring and Dan Uggla hit a tape-measure homer to stay in the National League lead with six. But it was Jurrjens’ performance that gave the Braves – and the Curacao right-hander — reason to breathe a little easier as the 2012 season draws closer.

“Very important,” said Jurrjens, who gave up just one hit (a bunt single) through the first five scoreless innings, and finished with one walk and seven strikeouts in the first good start of his five Grapefruit League outings. Through five innings …

Continue reading Jurrjens eases some concerns, Uggla stays hot in 11-1 win »

Notes: Hanson to pitch on day off; Teheran’s sore arm

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — While other Braves enjoy a day off Monday, Tommy Hanson will pitch five innings in a minor league game at the team’s Wide World of Sports spring training complex.

It’s the only off day on the Braves’ Grapefruit League schedule, but it’s also Hanson’s regular day to pitch and the Braves wanted to keep him and the rest of their starters on schedule.

Hanson allowed one hit, one unearned run and one walk in four innings Wednesday against Washington, only his second official start of spring. He missed the first 10 days of camp recovering from a concussion and was rained out in the second inning of his first start.

Hanson will get one more start Saturday and would be an option for April 5 regular-season opener at New York, if the Braves decided to go with someone other than Jair Jurrjens. While Jurrjens struggled mightily through four starts, he was impressive in a six-inning stint Sunday against a split-squad Houston lineup, allowing three hits and one …

Continue reading Notes: Hanson to pitch on day off; Teheran’s sore arm »

Heyward could be Braves’ backup in center

DUNEDIN, Fla. — Don’t be surprised if Jason Heyward becomes one of the world’s largest center fielders at times during the 2012 season.

The Braves started Heyward in center  instead of right field Saturday, the second time he started a game in center this spring. Manager Fredi Gonzalez said the Braves wanted to have the 6-foot-5, 235-pound left-hander play some center in case they decide to have him be their backup to Michael Bourn, instead of carrying Luis Durango or Jose Constanza to serve as backup.

Gonzalez said they might use Heyward in center even if Constanza is on the roster.

“Unless something happens before we break camp, we don’t really have a true [backup] center fielder,” Gonzalez said. “I think Heyward may be better than Constanza if [Constanza] makes the team. I think Durango could do it, but if he doesn’t make the team then I think Heyward is your next choice. If [Jordan] Parraza makes the team, he’s more of a corner [outfield] guy. So it just …

Continue reading Heyward could be Braves’ backup in center »

Braves’ Delgado gets knocked around in 9-0 loss

DUNEDIN, Fla. – The Braves didn’t expect so many “crooked number” innings to come up in the battle for their final rotation spot. Innings like two that Randall Delgado endured in Saturday’s 9-0 whipping by the Toronto Blue Jays.

Adam Lind hit a three-run homer in the third inning and the Jays tacked on five runs in the fourth against Delgado, who fell to 1-3 as his ERA climbed to 7.94 in five Grapefruit League games (four starts). The 22-year-old was charged with 10 hits and eight runs (five earned) in just four innings.

He’s competing with fellow top prospect Julio Teheran, who has a 9.00 ERA in four games (two starts)

“When we’re competing for jobs we want guys to put zeroes up there,” Gonzalez said. “But just chalk it up, and when it comes to decision time we’re going to try to go with the best guy that we can.”

Gonzalez agreed Delgado’s performance was a little better than results indicated. A would-be double-play grounder was botched by second …

Continue reading Braves’ Delgado gets knocked around in 9-0 loss »

Chipper to have knee surgery Monday

DUNEDIN, Fla. – Chipper Jones will have arthroscopic knee surgery Monday for torn meniscus, which the Braves third baseman injured Thursday only an hour before a previously planned news conference to announce he’d retire after the 2012 season.

It will be the sixth knee surgery for the future Hall of Famer, who turns 40 next month.

“It’s almost unimaginable, really,” Braves general manager Frank Wren said of the timing of the injury, just prior to the retirement news conference. “It’s a strange coincidence….

“He feels like he can be ready for the [April 13] home opener. We’ll see how it goes after he has surgery.”

The injury is to his left knee and similar to an injury to his right knee last summer, which required arthroscopic surgery and sidelined him 2-1/2 weeks, forcing Jones to miss the All-Star game.

He will start the season on the 15-day disabled list but hopes to return for the home opener against Milwaukee. (Part of a DL stint can be retroactive to spring …

Continue reading Chipper to have knee surgery Monday »

Terdoslavich, Bethancourt impressive in spring stint

Vivlamore reporting from Florida.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – The timing could not have been better for Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez to make his point with a young prospect.

A day before Chipper Jones announced that 2012 would be his last season, Gonzalez reminded Joey Terdoslavich that the third baseman was nearing the end of his career.

The Braves re-assigned Terdoslavich to the minor leagues on Thursday, the day Jones made his announcement. On Wednesday, in Viera for a Grapefruit League game against the Nationals, Gonzalez had a conversation with the player who could be Jones’ heir apparent.

“I said ‘You know, No. 10, you don’t know how long he is going to play for. He’s 40 years old,’” Gonzalez recalled.

Gonzalez said Terdoslavich will likely start the season at Class AA but could begin at Class AAA. The plan is for the infielder to move back to third base. He spent most of last season at first base at high-Class A Lynchburg, where he hit .286 with 20 home …

Continue reading Terdoslavich, Bethancourt impressive in spring stint »

Chipper: Swag and substance, greatest Brave of ATL era

Four decisions over four decades that were most beneficial to the Atlanta Braves: Bill Bartholomay moving the team from Milwaukee to Atlanta in the 1960s, Ted Turner purchasing the team to keep it in Atlanta for his Superstation WTBS in the 1970s, Bobby Cox’s return to Atlanta in the 1980s and …

Todd Van Poppel telling the Braves, who had the first overall pick in the 1990 draft, that he wouldn’t sign with them if they selected him.

chipper-jonesThe spurned Braves instead turned to a high school shortstop named Larry Wayne Jones Jr.

Van Poppel went on to fashion a 40-52 career record and 5.58 ERA in and 359 games (98 starts), never winning more than seven games or saving more than two in any of his 11 seasons.

As for Chipper Jones, he’s entering his 19th and final season with the Braves and is the only switch-hitter in history with at least a .300 average and 450 home runs. Among switch-hitters, his 454 homers rank third behind Mickey Mantle and Eddie Murray, and his .935 OPS ranks …

Continue reading Chipper: Swag and substance, greatest Brave of ATL era »

More on Chipper, shortstop battle

Vivlamore reporting from Lake Buena Vista where the Braves play the Mets this afternoon.

There was so much to report from the Chipper Jones’ retirement (following the 2012 season) yesterday that I couldn’t possibly get to all of it. I thought I would share a couple of quotes I just couldn’t fit in.

On moving on: “I’ve been in professional baseball for 23 years. That’s a long time to do anything. I feel now that it’s time to do something else. I’ve got four reasons right here. I’ve got four little boys who’ve had a part-time father for a long time. They have sacrificed a lot and I think it’s about time I start paying them back.”

On his start: “The Braves organization has been great to me. It started with general manger Bobby Cox, who drafted my No. 1 overall in 1990, two days after I graduated high school. You are talking about an 18 year-old kid who didn’t know much about life but Bobby took a flyer on me and I’ve said many times I’ve spent the last 23 …

Continue reading More on Chipper, shortstop battle »

Pastornicky goes 4-for-5 in tie with Marlins

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – There is still a long way to go in determining the Braves starting shortstop position. Tyler Pastornicky put a plus in his column with a 4-for-5 day at the plate in the Braves’ 10-inning 5-5 tie against the Marlins at Champion Stadium Thursday afternoon. He also drove in a run.

Pastornicky is locked in a battle with Andrelton Simmons for the shortstop position. Manager Fredi Gonzalez said he will continue to rotate the two players in a battle he believes will go down until the final days of spring training.

“You have to realize that it is still baseball,” Pastornicky said. “I didn’t lost sight of that I was just putting a lot of added pressure on myself. The situation I’m in, you don’t want to put any more pressure than you already have.”

Pastornicky, as a pinch-hitter, had a big hit in Wednesday’s win over the Nationals.

Freddie Freeman went 3-for-5 with three RBIs, including a two-run homer, for the Braves (6-13-3). Trailing …

Continue reading Pastornicky goes 4-for-5 in tie with Marlins »