After tense spring, Pastornicky calm in first opening day

NEW YORK – After fending off a challenge for the shortstop job in spring training, Tyler Pastornicky didn’t feel as much pressure he might have before starting in his first major league opening day Thursday.

“I think that whole spring training experience helped me as far as maybe calming down and getting used to some of this,” the 22-year-old rookie said as he dressed for the Braves’ opener against the Mets at Citi Field. “I’m sure I’m going to get nervous out there, but I think that helped a lot as far as me being able to realize it’s the same game.”

He showed no signs of nervousness while going 1-for-2 with a triple and a walk and making a couple of nifty defensive plays.

“Yeah, it didn’t look like he had any [nerves] at all,” Braves second baseman Dan Uggla said. “He played great. Put together some good at-bats, smoked that one to right-center and played great defense. He’s an athletic kid and he’s got all the tools to be a great ballplayer. I’m excited – I think we’re all excited – to see what he’s capable of doing.”

Pastornicky’s parents were at Citi Field for his major league debut. His dad, Cliff Pastornicky, is a scout with the Toronto Blue Jays, and Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said the Jays flew them in for the game. (Tyler was a former Blue Jays prospect traded to the Braves with Alex Gonzalez in the July 2010 deal that sent shortstop Yunel Escobar to Toronto.)

“Awesome,” Pastornicky said of the gesture by the Blue Jays. “I can’t believe they would do something like that. It was classy. It’s awesome.”

He said about 15 friends from his Bradenton, Fla.  high school — IMG Academy — also flew up to New York on Thursday for the game.”

“To make it all that much more special,” he said. “It’s cool to get to go out  there and experience that, then get to see them later on and talk about it. I’m looking forward to it.”

Gonzalez debated on whether to start Pastornicky in his first game or ease him in, maybe start veteran backup Jack Wilson in the opener. Ultimately, he decided to do it the way former manager Bobby Cox always did it.

“Talking to the coaches and the kid, [he decided to] throw him in there,” Gonzalez said. “Get it over with, his anticipation – I’m sure he didn’t sleep much at all last night. I put the lineup up yesterday before we left [Atlanta], just to make sure guys knew. He’ll be fine.”

Pastornicky drew a walk against veteran left-hander Johan Santana in his second plate appearance and tripled off Ramon Ramirez his third time up.

“He had a great game,” Braves pitcher Tommy Hanson said. “Everyone’s comfortable with him at short.”

He had the shortstop job to lose entering spring training, and Pastornicky pressed and struggled to such a degree in the early going that prospect and defensive standout Andrelton Simmons gave him a run. Pastornicky relaxed and starting to hit and field better in the last two weeks of camp, and Simmons slumped at the plate and strained a side muscle in the last week of camp.

Simmons will start the season at Double-A Mississippi, and Pastornicky started at shortstop for the Braves before a large New York crowd Thursday, facing a former two-time Cy Young Award winner whom Pastornicky remembered watching when he was barely a teen-ager.

“Oh, yeah. I watched [Santana] when he had his good stuff,” said Pastornicky, with a wide-eyed smile and a tone that made it obvious he wasn’t making a dig at the veteran left-hander.

Pastornicky grounded out in the third inning in his first major league plate appearance and walked in the fifth, the first walk issued by Santana.

“I felt great,” Pastornicky said afterward. “Surprisingly, during [batting practice] I thought I’d feel nervous and stuff. I felt great. I think I got all my nerves out in spring training, with that terrible start. I felt great [today]. Tough game, but it was good to get out there and get the first one out of the way. Tommy threw the ball great. Couldn’t have thrown any better.”

He relaxed a bit more after grounding out his first time up, Pastornicky said.

“Get that first at-bat out of the way,” he said, “and then go, ‘OK, here we go.’ It’s a good feeling to get all the firsts out of the way today.”

The Braves loaded the bases in the fifth before Michael Bourn grounded out to Santana, who left in the bottom of the fifth for a pinch-hitter.

66 comments Add your comment

dean

April 5th, 2012
3:42 pm

This is the big leagues. The kid was deemed the starter. Why would it even be in question whether or not he starts?

Yadier's Neck Tat

April 5th, 2012
3:51 pm

He smoked one earlier.

Joey

April 5th, 2012
3:57 pm

It is STILL September ‘11.

4 hits. O hits with RISP.

PMC

April 5th, 2012
3:58 pm

… well nice triple anyway.

One year, we’ll finally have a team of guys that can hit.

Frank Shab PA

April 5th, 2012
4:01 pm

Same old same old. Bourn for a leadoff/contact hitter is very poor. At this point sure looks like the Braves should let him go. My God twice he could have tied up the game save your money.

J-MAN

April 5th, 2012
4:03 pm

Gee I woder what would happen when you do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING following a historic collapse………..Guess we just found out

chc4

April 5th, 2012
4:03 pm

Didn’t score enough last year and made no changes. It’s gonna be a long year.

PMC

April 5th, 2012
4:04 pm

It’s only one game.

Robert08

April 5th, 2012
4:06 pm

I realize its only the first game of a 162-game schedule, but a 1-0 loss to the Mets is not a good start … it reminded me too much of September 2011.

Eric

April 5th, 2012
4:11 pm

Settle down bitches lol. it’s just one game.

J-MAN

April 5th, 2012
4:13 pm

Well the number 1 problem is still Fredi Gonzalez. We did NOTHING to address our flaws and now our offense is that much worse. We should have tried to get Adam Jones when we couldve. The Braves are gonna be 4th place when all is said and done.

J-MAN

April 5th, 2012
4:14 pm

Well we kept saying “its just one game” in September until we chocked a 10 1/2 game lead in the Wild Card…………REMEMBER THAT. These games DO ADD UP!!!!!!!

J-MAN

April 5th, 2012
4:15 pm

Well we kept saying “its just one game” in September until we choked a 10 1/2 game lead in the Wild Card…………REMEMBER THAT. These games DO ADD UP!!!!!!!

Hugo Huge

April 5th, 2012
4:15 pm

Man, same sorry hitters ! Same sorry announcers. Same old shiit.

J-MAN

April 5th, 2012
4:18 pm

Thats why Atlanta Sports suck because the fans dont call out their teams when they choke. The upper-management never feels any pressure from the fans. Thats why the Falcons did nothing this off-season as well.

Eric

April 5th, 2012
4:21 pm

Slow down, take a shot, down your drugs.

Just one game, in early April.

Troy

April 5th, 2012
4:21 pm

Good game Rev-Medlen-Hanson..the others leaves alot to be desired.

J-MAN

April 5th, 2012
4:24 pm

Same stuff where the pitching does its job but we dont score. And its not just 1 game its 1 LOSS. Guess when were last in runs scored you will still be drinking the Fredi Gonzalez kool-aid. Well to be honest you have to be able to get up and pour the kool-aid into a pitcher with sugar and water……I thnk Fredi might be to lazy to do that

PMC

April 5th, 2012
4:24 pm

The ridiculously horrific outfield production numbers can’t be improved in a short amount of time without real change anyway. It’s going to be a while and the Braves rarely hit in April.

Wren and Freddi.....roflmao

April 5th, 2012
4:26 pm

Definition if insanity….doing same thing over and over and expecting differnet results. I think 4th place in East is a dead on assessment of this team this year. Freddi and Frank both need to go. BTW, has Freddi tipped his hat to the Mets yet?

Felix

April 5th, 2012
4:28 pm

Now the regular season has started and the Great Choke continues. The hitters were as pathetic as last year and throughout much of the Spring. That looked like exactly what we saw all last year. Another wasted great pitching effort.

By the way, this one counted.

PMC

April 5th, 2012
4:29 pm

You do wonder how many hitting coaches you’re going to go through before you start pointing the finger at the front office though.

Ted M

April 5th, 2012
4:31 pm

Way to get Pastor in form 3rd w/1 out Fredi…you da man!

Joey

April 5th, 2012
4:32 pm

“… lol. It’s just one game.”
“Go get em tomorrow.”
“It’s a long season.”
“We weren’t going undefeated.”
“The Braves will be fine.”

I’ve heard all of that before. The problem is not the LOSS, but how the loss happened. Pitchers pitched great – 1 run in 8 innings.

This Braves team cannot hit with runners in scoring position. We have a team of average-to-above-average hitters, who can’t get the ball in play when under the pressure of a runner on base – no matter how many outs.

What were the odds of this happening? Not one clutch hitter in the lineup, except maybe Freeman.

I said it this morning on MB’s blog – what good is it to have a speedy, base-stealing leadoff hitter, if you have nobody who can hit a fly ball to the outfield to drive him in? I bet Bourn wishes he were still in Houston – they are lousy, but they knocked him in a hell of a lot more than his current teammates do.

This team

Joey

April 5th, 2012
4:33 pm

“Thats why the Falcons did nothing this off-season as well.”
**********************************
Oh, I was under the impression we got the OC from the worst offense in the whole NFL . . .

Robert ( chi-town)

April 5th, 2012
4:34 pm

What a surprise Braves get shutout on opening day! Was that Frank Wren I saw from the front row of the outfield bleachers? Good place for him, since he sees no need to add any offense to this team!

MD Braves fan

April 5th, 2012
4:39 pm

Wow! Just pathetic. And I paid for the MLB package to see THAT?! Looks exactly the same. Of course that’s what happens when you keep that stupid ass manager and make no moves to improve in offseason. I see nothing different in Heywards swing.

Joey

April 5th, 2012
4:40 pm

Robert, Wren is the GM, not the owner. You know why he didn’t get more offense?

He can only spend what the owner(s) tell him he can spend.

I suspect that next season he will feel like he has won the lottery when Chippers $15M comes off the books. Until then, don’t look for big changes.

ccrider

April 5th, 2012
4:40 pm

an uninspired, lackadasical effort by two teams who know they’re goin’ nowhere. you can guess what all 50 players are thinkin’ “Only 161 more ’til huntin’ season.” fitting way to end the game – a k for j-who. gonna be a loooong season.

Double Zero Eight

April 5th, 2012
4:43 pm

S.O.B.. stands for Same Old Braves

Joey

April 5th, 2012
4:46 pm

Where are the posters who told us last month, “it’s only spring training – the games don’t count.”

Just wondering, cause this one counted.

4 hits.

0 hits with RISP.

0 runs.

Jammy MAN

April 5th, 2012
4:46 pm

Its gonna be a long year. I told you that Uggla would stop hitting once regular season started. Heyward should be in AAA. McCann can’t see. Zero runs in 9 innings. Same problem as last year great pitching and pathetic hitting. Yeah this same team ain’t winning nuttin’. No moves = same results. Thanks for nuttin’ Wren !

Steve

April 5th, 2012
4:47 pm

Wow what morons! It was the FIRST game of the year. I guess according to most of you if the Braves had won 9-0 they would be for sure World Series champs right? They faced a future hall of fame pitcher also. Look at today’s scores people. No offense anywhere with so many aces pitching.

Joey

April 5th, 2012
4:50 pm

ccrider, I disagree.

I think all 50 are thinking, “I get paid whether we win or lose.” (Chipper made about $90,000 today . . .)

rugburn

April 5th, 2012
4:53 pm

if we had one more win in april last year, we would have survived the fall.

Steve

April 5th, 2012
4:53 pm

Miami who has a better offense than the Braves, 1 run yesterday. Philly, 1 run scored today. Boston, 2 runs scored today. Opening Day is always low scoring people. It’s not like the Braves faced Lowe today.

Ted M

April 5th, 2012
5:05 pm

The Braves still should have gotten Pastor in from 3rd w/1 out.

rugburn

April 5th, 2012
5:13 pm

true, we got an ace today for 5 innings. rauch sports an almost 5 era and stunk all spring. bad pitching can beat really bad hitting.

ccrider

April 5th, 2012
5:16 pm

the frediot is at it again. letting constanza hit against byrdak is conceding an out, and bourne ain’t much better. take a chance, play to win and ph ross. if it backfires, well shoot, it’s only one game in april, but, for pete’s sake, PLAY TO WIN!!!

Larry

April 5th, 2012
5:16 pm

Yes, it is only one game…the same one game in the loss column that knocked them out ot the postseason last September.

But it is still only one game, right goobers?

Joey

April 5th, 2012
5:17 pm

I feel better already – nothing like a high-IQ guy like Steve to put us “morons” at ease with his smarts.

What I saw, Mr Genius, was 5 (not one future hall-of- famer) pitchers make our lineup look, well, inept, kinda like it is last Sept all over again.

I also noted that we had runners on bases twice vs Santana with less than 2 outs, and did zilch, nothing, nada.

Larry

April 5th, 2012
5:18 pm

ccrider,

“Frediot” Man, that may be better than my “Fruiti” name!

I’m impressed!

ccrider

April 5th, 2012
5:18 pm

my statement about one game in april was scarcasm

Dumbo

April 5th, 2012
5:21 pm

Is it just me, but this game looked just like games last September and October. Calling Mr. Birdbrain Wren, scoring runs is just as important as good pitching.

ccrider

April 5th, 2012
5:26 pm

uggla’s effort on that grounder looked like he’d rather be somewhere else. didn’t look focused. then again, none of them looked excited about opening day

64 year Braves fan

April 5th, 2012
5:28 pm

I know soccer teams that score more than the Braves do.Why the h ll was Fredi letting a weak hitting
left handed batter like Costanza bat against a left handed reliever with the tying run on 3rd with only
one out. Release Heyward “the bust” tomorrow . Good pitching always wasted by a poor hitting team.
Fire the new hitting coach. Pastornicky looked good today.

Steve

April 5th, 2012
5:28 pm

Good point Joey! I forgot the Braves are supposed to bat 1.000 with runners in scoring position.

Steve

April 5th, 2012
5:29 pm

“Fire the new hitting coach?” HA HA. Talk about uneducated. After ONE game? Funny.

BrandonLee49

April 5th, 2012
5:33 pm

And You Expected What after Losing to the Perrinial-Cellar Mets 1-ZIP….
Oh Yea THAT’s Awesome !!! Pastornicky has the Hot- Bat… This is 2012 or Sept 2011 ??? Hanson proved Better Results are Due his Effort… or Why should any body expect Fans to put -up with This.

Frank Wren

April 5th, 2012
5:35 pm

I’m afraid that the fans are figuring out that I really don’t know what the heck I’m doing.

ccrider

April 5th, 2012
5:35 pm

nice trophy for Pastornicky but it probably shoulda been caught

Steve

April 5th, 2012
5:36 pm

Again, so according to most of you “fans” if the Braves had won 9-0, they would be for sure World Series champions this year right? I hate to tell you but every team in baseball loses at least 50 games a year! Looking forward to hearing the cry babies at least 49 more times.

ccrider

April 5th, 2012
5:37 pm

49 more times – by mid-july

lanier

April 5th, 2012
5:37 pm

good pitching. a dreadful effort from the hitters. 2011 all over again. no change

Felix

April 5th, 2012
5:38 pm

And what is this Meebo crud that keeps popping up at the bottom of my screen?

Bill M.

April 5th, 2012
5:40 pm

Great game, great pitching but same old Braves. It’s been like this for 2 or 3 yrs., can’t score with RISP.Why is Constanza on this team? They had better choices with Parraz & Durango. You can see why Medlen won’t be stating. With him, Livan and other guy, forgot his name, hopefully Frutti won’t blow out the pen. It’s only one games but we may be in for a long hot summer. I hope not.

Rocky Mtn Bravo

April 5th, 2012
5:41 pm

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Same group of losers. Not sure why we should expect anything else than a shutout on opening day.

TBbravesfan

April 5th, 2012
5:44 pm

Here we go again yall.

Steve

April 5th, 2012
5:44 pm

The Braves suck! They should bat at least .400 as a team and at least .750 with runners in scoring position! What’s funny about most of you, is if they win Saturday 8-1 you will have something to complain about. Heck they could win 20-1 and you would complain.

TBbravesfan

April 5th, 2012
5:48 pm

Enter your comments here

rugburn

April 5th, 2012
5:50 pm

you have to admit that winning game one is more of a step in the right direction than losing game one,right? if it helped to lose game one more teams would give the brave effort, right?

@ Steve

April 5th, 2012
5:50 pm

Go to the “we are so happy” Braves blog if you don’t like it…

rugburn

April 5th, 2012
5:51 pm

easy steve! 8 runs in one game? let’s try for 5 in a series first

Joey

April 5th, 2012
6:12 pm

Genius, the Braves were (I ain’t looking it up) either last, or next to last in the whole majors, in hitting with RISP. I expect they will again hit closer to .200 than 1.000.

But you go ahead and find that silver lining – somewhere – me, I llive in Realville – I don’t look out on the world through my belly button, if you get my meaning.

And wake me up when we score 9 runs in one game . . .

Say Whaaaaa?

April 5th, 2012
10:00 pm

Quit your whining! Guess who else lost on their opening day? Miami (er Florida … you know who I mean) …. They lost to the Cardinals without Carpenter or Pujols….. then they lose to the Reds…. all you haters out there that say the Braves are automatically 4th in the East? C’mon man!!!! Slow your roll, it’s only the 1st of 162. Yes, all games are important, but who can really complain about a 1-0 game on opening day? Really, can’t you just enjoy a great opening day game and relish in the fact that baseball is officially back? Seriously? You guys got to learn to enjoy the little things in life!

Jack G

April 6th, 2012
10:41 am

When single hitters try to hit homerss…….

Add your comment