Archive for March, 2012

McCann’s first HR is Braves’ lone extra-base hit

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Brian McCann’s leadoff homer in the seventh inning of Monday’s 4-3 loss to the Cardinals was the first home run and second extra-base hit of the spring for the Braves catcher.

McCann has hit .281 (9-for-32) with four RBIs. He went deep off Cardinals right-hander Mitchell Boggs.

The first 12 Braves went down in order against Cardinals right-hander Lance Lynn before Dan Uggla’s leadoff single in the fifth inning. McCann’s homer was the only extra-base hit for the Braves, who had seven singles.

Awaiting Vizcaino report

Rookie reliever Arodys Vizcaino flew to Pensacola, Fla., to have his injured right elbow examined by Dr. James Andrews on Monday afternoon. The Braves weren’t expected to provide an update on the hard-throwing right-hander until Tuesday morning.

Jurrjens vs. Verlander

Jair Jurrjens makes his fourth start Tuesday when the Braves travel to Lakeland, Fla., to face the Tigers and Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander. Craig Kimbrel is …

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Delgado could have lead in race for last rotation spot

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Julio Teheran is the highest rated of Atlanta’s pair of elite starting-pitcher prospects, but Randall Delgado looks like the leader in their race for the last opening in the Braves rotation.

They worked all nine innings of Monday’s 4-3 Grapefruit League loss to the St. Louis Cardinals, with Delgado allowing two runs and three hits in the first five innings and Teheran giving up two runs and five hits in the last four innings.

Delgado had three walks and five strikeouts and gave up both his runs when Matt Carpenter homered on a hanging change-up in the fourth inning.

“I think this guy’s a pretty solid major league pitcher,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said of the Panamanian right-hander, who went 1-1 with a 2.83 ERA in seven starts last season in his first major league stint. “When you’ve got a kid that’s 22 years old that can command those type of pitches…

“Everything’s pretty sharp. His fastball is good, his curveball is one …

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Furcal on jump from A-ball to majors: “Baseball is the same”

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Rafael Furcal doesn’t know shortstop prospect Andrelton Simmons, but Furcal did what Simmons hopes to do –  jump directly from Class A to the major leagues with the Braves.

Furcal made Atlanta’s opening day roster in 2000 as a 22-year-old with no minor league experience above Class A , then unseated veteran Walt Weiss and went on to win National League Rookie of the Year.

“You’ve got to be mentally and physically ready and don’t change anything,” said Furcal, who doesn’t think the difference in playing levels is such a big deal. “Just keep playing the same way in the major leagues as you played in the minor leagues, because baseball is the same everywhere.”

Simmons, 22, played at high-A Lynchburg in 2011 and is competing with Tyler Pastornicky for the Braves shortstop job. Neither has major league experience. Pastornicky, 22, came to camp as the projected 2012 shortstop after a breakout season in Double-A and …

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Gearrin continues push for ‘pen; eventful day for Parraz

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Braves reliever Cory Gearrin gave up two hits but no runs in the sixth inning of Sunday’s 2-2, 10-inning tie against Baltimore, continuing the rookie’s push for a spot on the opening day roster.

The sidearmer has allowed five hits and one unearned run in six appearances, with two walks and five strikeouts in 6-1/3 innings. Gearrin had two strikeouts Sunday and got switch-hitting former Brave Wilson Betemit to pop out with two on to end the inning.

Gearrin struggled mightily against lefty hitters last season, when he pitched in 18 games and lefties scorched him for a .393 average and .514 on-base percentage. Right-handers hit .143 with a .260 OBP.

Applying a tip from pitching coach Roger McDowell, Gearrin took some velocity off his fastball to get more sink, which has worked particularly well against left-handers. Three Toronto lefties went hitless against him Saturday.

The Braves’  bullpen will have the back-end trio of closer Craig Kimbrel and …

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Braves’ Minor pushes his scoreless streak to 14 innings

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – A year ago on March 19, Mike Minor gave up four runs in six innings of a minor league game on the same day Brandon Beachy pitched five scoreless innings of one-hit ball against Detroit.

That was, for all intents and purposes, the day Minor lost the Braves No. 5 starter job.

One day shy of that anniversary, Minor all but officially secured a spot in this year’s opening day rotation with another crisp and convincing performance.

The left-hander allowed two hits and one walk with three strikeouts in five scoreless innings of a 2-2, 10-inning tie against the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday at Champion Stadium, giving him 14 scoreless innings in four Grapefruit League starts.

“He’s been great, he really has,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “We’ve seen him give us good outing after good outing. You see the command, and you see his secondary pitches getting better and better and more consistent. I think he could throw almost any pitch at any …

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Gilmartin, Gattis among latest camp-roster cuts

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The Braves cut six from major league camp Sunday including two or three that manager Fredi Gonzalez said could be called to the majors at some point during the season.

Dropped from big league camp were right-handed pitchers Jaye Chapman, J.J. Hoover and Todd Redmond, lefties Sean Gilmartin and Luis Avilan, and catcher Evan Gattis.

The moves left 44 on the camp roster including 14 non-roster invitees. The pitchers were all optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett except Gilmartin, who was not on the 40-man roster and was therefore reassigned to minor league camp.

Gattis was also reassigned to minor league camp and will likely be assigned to Class-A Lynchburg. He made a good impression with the major league team.

“He’s strong, has great work ethic and wants to get better,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “His bat’s been impressive.”

Gattis, 25, hit .322 with 22 homers with 71 RBIs and a .986 OPS in 88 games last season at low-A Rome, his second …

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Medlen still penciled in for bullpen role, not rotation

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – If he were a few years younger or threw a few miles per hour harder, would there be any debate among Braves decision-makers over whether Kris Medlen should be in the starting rotation or the bullpen? I’m betting he’d be a lock for the rotation by now.

Medlen, here stretching during a workout earlier this spring, has excelled in his two starts but remains penciled in for a bullpen role. (Jason Getz photo/AJC)

Medlen, here stretching during a workout earlier this spring, has excelled in his two starts but remains penciled in for a bullpen role. (Jason Getz photo/AJC)

He threw four scoreless innings of one-hit ball with one walk in a split-squad game Saturday against the Mets, and only Mike Minor has pitched better among Braves starters this spring. There’s also the matter of Medlen being unbeaten (5-0) with a 3.86 ERA in 14 games as a starter in 2010 before he blew out his elbow and had Tommy John surgery. The Braves were 13-1 in his starts.

He did it then, and he’s doing it again now in limited opportunities. He has two starts and one relief appearance this spring, and Medlen has allowed six hits and …

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Pastornicky relaxes a bit and has his best game

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – It’s been a bit of a rough month for Tyler Pastornicky, but the rookie shortstop showed Saturday what the Braves had in mind when they projected him as their Opening Day shortstop.

Pastornicky had his best game to date in a 5-3 split-squad win against Toronto, going 1-for-3 with a sacrifice fly and two RBIs and showing  range on a defensive play at the edge of the outfield grass.

“It looked like today he was a little more relaxed, a little more into the flow of the game,” said  bench coach Carlos Tosca, who managed one Braves split squad while manager Fredi Gonzalez had the other. “He had some tremendous at-bats. That sac fly was really good, the base hit for the RBI was good, and he made a great play in the hole.”

Pastornicky, 22, began Saturday with a .121 average and only four hits and one walk in 33 at-bats.

“I’ve been working hard on trying to get my swings going,” he said. “I’ve been feeling better. I put a lot of work in in …

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Beachy, Medlen sharp in Braves’ split-squad wins

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – He didn’t try to put too fine a point on his pitches Saturday in his third start of the spring, and for the first time Brandon Beachy got the results he wanted.

The Braves right-hander allowed two hits, one run and one walk while striking out six in four innings of a 5-3 split-squad win against the Toronto Blue Jays at Champion Stadium.

“It’s definitely a step in the right direction,” said Beachy, who allowed four earned runs in two innings in his spring debut and walked five batters in three innings in his second start.

Beachy’s best start of the spring wasn’t, however, the Braves’ best of the day. Two hours south in Port St. Lucie, Fla., Kris Medlen pitched four scoreless innings of one-hit ball and the Braves scored three runs in the eighth inning of a 3-2, come-from-behind win against the New York Mets.

“He was sharp with all his pitches,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said of Medlen, who’s penciled in for a bullpen role but is …

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Wilson (calf), Hudson (back) stepping up the rehab

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- After missing four weeks of spring training with a strained calf, veteran shortstop Jack Wilson has stepped up his rehab work in recent days and hopes to open the season on the Braves’ 25-man roster and not the disabled list.

“I don’t think that [DL] is going to have to happen,” said Wilson, who ran at 90-percent effort this week and hit Saturday for the first time. “If [he went on the DL] it would be to get more at-bats or more playing time [in the minors].

“At this point I’m just going to see how it does day-to-day, but it feels fantastic.”

He will field grounders for the first time in the next few days and hopes to play in a week. Wilson will initially play spring-training minor league games to get a lot of at-bats – a rehabbing player can hit every inning in those games – but he also wants to play some Grapefruit League games.

He was hurt Feb. 14 during a conditioning drill a few days before reporting to spring training. The …

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