Notes: Chipper back this week; Hanson to start fifth game

NEW YORK — After initially thinking Chipper Jones’ goal of returning from arthroscopic knee surgery for the Braves’ home opener might be too ambitious, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez now thinks he could be back sooner.

Jones is eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list Tuesday, when the Braves play the second game of a three-game series at Houston. The home opener is Friday against Milwaukee.

“Definitely the home opener, based on [Friday’s] workout,” Gonzalez said, “and maybe even sooner than that. We’ll see what happens in the next couple of days with him.”

Jones took about 15 swings against Braves pitcher Randall Delgado on Friday during an off-day workout at Citi Field, the first time he faced live pitching since April 26 surgery for torn meniscus in his left knee. He also ran the bases during the workout.

“We’re going to ramp him up here in the next couple of days,” said Gonzalez, who will request use of Houston’s Minute Maid Park in the early afternoon Monday. “To get him some extra work. And we’ll see how it goes, how he feels.”

Gonzalez said last week that Jones might benefit from a minor-league rehab assignment before he’s activated, but Saturday he said Jones would do that only if the veteran feels like he needs to.

If he’s not activated before the end of the trip Wednesday, Jones could get some at-bats in a Class-A Rome game Thursday on the Braves’ day off. But on Saturday that sounded less likely.

If Jones isn’t ready to play third base, Gonzalez said, “Maybe we’ll use him off the bench as a pinch-hitter the first couple of days.”

Hanson to start Tuesday

Opening day starter Tommy Hanson will start Tuesday in the fifth game of the season, with Braves No. 5 starter now set to make his season debut Wednesday Houston. The Braves decided to bring back Hanson to start Tuesday after he threw only 83 pitches in the season opener.

The off day in the schedule Friday means Hanson will be on regular (four days) rest Tuesday. Gonzalez said he put off the decision until checking with Hanson two days after his first start.

“We wanted him to go on his normal day [on regular rest], but we were waiting to see how he felt,” Gonzalez said. “Because it’s different than pitching spring training. You’ve got opening day jitters and the whole thing going. He said, ‘No, I’m not even sore. I feel good.’ So we’ll keep him on [schedule].”

Hudson’s first rehab start

In his first injury-rehab start for Class-A Rome,  Tim Hudson allowed four hits, two runs (one earned) and one walk with no strikeouts in three innings Saturday at Charleston. Returning from back surgery, Hudson is set to make five or six rehab starts for Rome and Triple-A Gwinnett before he’s activated in the last week of April or first week of May.

His next scheduled start is Thursday in Rome’s home opener, which Gonzalez and pitching coach Roger McDowell plan to attend.

Francisco eager for opportunity

Juan Francisco didn’t see it coming when he was traded to the Braves on the last weeked of spring training, but once he understood the particulars he was OK with it.

“I was surprised a little bit when the GM [Reds general manager Walt Jocketty] called me to the office and said, ‘I traded you today,’” Francisco said. “He said, ‘You’ve got a better opportunity [with the Braves]. Work hard and take care.’ I said, thank you.”

He showed big power potential in the Reds organization but was out of minor-league options and wasn’t going to see much time at the infield corners playing behind star first baseman Joey Votto or veteran third baseman Scott Rolen. So the Reds traded Francisco to the Braves in exchange for minor league pitcher J.J. Hoover — a prospect, but not one of the Braves’ top-tier prospects.

“This is my first chance,” said Francisco, 24, made his Braves debut with a start at third baseman Saturday against the Mets, going 0-for-4 and hitting a couple of balls hard with runners on base. “I’ve been waiting for the opportunity to play.”

Until now, his career has been most notable for the 502-foot homer he hit at Cincinnati that sailed entirely over the right-field bleachers and out of the ballpark.

In parts of three major league seasons with the Reds, Francisco hit .284 with 11 doubles, one triple, five homers and 29 RBI in 169 at-bats, only 26 of which came against lefties.  Gonzalez said he wants to give him a chance to show if he can hit major league lefties.

With the Reds’ Triple-A team last season, Francisco hit .343 (72-for-210) against right-handers with 10 homers, a .370 on-base percentage and a .956 OPS, while against lefties he hit .269 (29-for-108) with six homers, a .298 OBP and .798 OPS.

“I can hit both,” said the stocky Dominican, listed as 6 feet 2 and  245 pounds. “When a lefty started I never played [in Cincinnati]. I don’t know why. In the minor leagues I started against righties and lefties. I played every day.”

Francisco should get plenty of starts as primary backup to  Jones, who will be 40 on April 24. The Braves plan to rest the veteran third baseman on a regular basis this year to try to keep him healthy in his final season.

Batting seventh against knuckleballer R.A. Dickey on Saturday, Francisco struck out on an eight-pitch at-bat with one on to end the second inning, lined out to center field with two out to end the fourth, and lined out to first with a runner at third to end the sixth. He popped out foul against Mets closer Frank Francisco with a runner at first for the second out of the ninth inning.

“He had a couple of good at-bats and also made a couple of nice plays defensively,” said Gonzalez, who hadn’t decided whether to play Francisco at third Sunday against left-hander Jonathon Niese, or play Matt Diaz in left field and move Martin Prado back to third.

Diaz started in left on opening day because he had a .500 career average against Johan Santana. Diaz is 1-for-8 against Niese.

30 comments Add your comment

theriddler

April 7th, 2012
7:39 pm

Julio Fan

April 7th, 2012
7:54 pm

What is Julio Franco doing these days?

Julio Fan

April 7th, 2012
7:56 pm

Which Bobby Cox protege would do a better job for our team:

Fredi or Ozzie?

Julio Fan

April 7th, 2012
8:01 pm

Talk about consistency:

We are staring off 2012 the way we finished 2011.

At least we got that going for us, which is nice…

SR

April 7th, 2012
8:03 pm

Really, come on. You could pull one of DOB’s blogs or a game story from last year’s epic fail and it would read the same. Diaz failed with with runners on, couldn’t come up with a big hit, hit the ball hard, thought we had something going blah, blah, blah. Someone mentioned earlier that Braves are boring, no kidding, and have been for awhile. Same players doing, or not doing in this case the same ol thing. Nice going Wren, you tool.

sports

April 7th, 2012
8:14 pm

who CARES???

J-MAN

April 7th, 2012
8:29 pm

Patheic!!!!! How about somebody actually talk about the collapse and te fact that the Braves did NOTHING about it. They keep Fredi Gonzalez, they dont sign any free agents and they expect different results. But what makes me sick is that D.O.B., Mark Bradley or Jeff Schultz will not point this out instead there too busy being buddy buddy with Fredi Gonzalez, Frank Wren and Liberty Media. But Schultz and Bradley will attact the Atlanta Spirit Group (Which they should) but Liberty Media is making the same kind of moves and are praised for doing so. Thats the problem with Atlants sports, the beat writers and fans never criticize their teams (Especially the Braves) and just come to the games to hang out rather to cheer and BOO their teams. The Braves choked a 10 1/2 game lead and all that was said was “Tip you hat”. D.O.B. your my favorite writer by far but even you need to stop drinking the Fredi Gonzalez Kool-Aid, he is a awful manager and makes bad manageral moves all the time.

J-MAN

April 7th, 2012
8:31 pm

Patheic!!!!! How about somebody actually talk about the collapse and the fact that the Braves did NOTHING about it. They keep Fredi Gonzalez, they dont sign any free agents and they expect different results. But what makes me sick is that D.O.B., Mark Bradley or Jeff Schultz will not point this out instead there too busy being buddy buddy with Fredi Gonzalez, Frank Wren and Liberty Media. But Schultz and Bradley will attact the Atlanta Spirit Group (Which they should) but Liberty Media is making the same kind of moves and are praised for doing so. Thats the problem with Atlants sports, the beat writers and fans never criticize their teams (Especially the Braves) and just come to the games to hang out rather to cheer and BOO their teams. The Braves choked a 10 1/2 game lead and all that was said was “Tip you hat”. D.O.B. your my favorite writer by far but even you need to stop drinking the Fredi Gonzalez Kool-Aid, he is an awful manager and makes bad manageral moves all the time.

Thadsdad

April 7th, 2012
8:41 pm

The Mutts figure to be one of the few teams this sad collection of stiffs can actually beat, and the Bravos have exactly two runs in two games.
Can’t wait to see how badly the Braves get tortured by that other championship-caliber team, the Astros.
Perhaps the Braves will explode and get six or seven hits in that series.
But I’m sure that’s all part of the well-designed plan – after fielding one of the most anemic offenses in recent memory a year ago, you don’t go out and get a bat or two or three.
Instead, you hold on to the 60 young pitching prospects in the organization (and really, folks, have Teheran or Delgado or any of these can’t-miss arms impressed anyone when pitching against major league hitters?) and wait for Heyward to come around, and Prado to come around and Uggla to come around and McCann to come around …

Check please

April 7th, 2012
9:03 pm

Our big offseason move was paying $10 million so Lowe can pitch for Cleveland. 10% of the payroll for a pitcher no longer here. A hapless lineup. 160 games to go before this is mercifully over!

Cecil34

April 7th, 2012
9:18 pm

DOB, from the what it’s worth department:

Based upon the pablum that comes out of Gonzalez and co. mouth’s, you might as well stay home and write the reports from listening on the radio.

It’s just blah, blah, blah. Nothing new here.

Selah…..

mbjones

April 7th, 2012
9:59 pm

As a lifelong braves fan i will still continue to root for them but something has to be done. 0-10 With risp is unacceptable. They will never win the division like this. Heyward is a bust. Hopefully they can keep pace until the all-star break and trade for something better. Is anyone else sick of hearing about these young pitching prospects? Use them now or trade at least one to get a big bat to replace heyward.

Blue ridge Brave

April 7th, 2012
10:12 pm

We had one spot to improve our team and that was at short. So what did we do we put in a guy with way less range and maybe less of a bat. We have faced two tough pitchers if sunday goes the same way then we might be in for a rough start. I do hate listening to fredi talk though its mike woodson all over again. Would have loved ned yost and dayton moore. I wonder if we add a prospect the royals would trade?

IBall

April 7th, 2012
10:19 pm

The Braves!!!! What you see now is what you will get for the season. Bet on it!!! Remember this post at the end of the season.

Who Me?

April 7th, 2012
10:24 pm

Yes its 2 games into the season. Yes we understand that. Yes, we know for this team to be competitive this year our lineup has to pretty much have career years, which should be no sweat except for one Larry Jones. Hell, if we could hit .270 as a team I think we’d do cartwheels around the basepaths (remember Chuck Connors, he of “The Rifleman” fame? he did that).

Hey, for all you “yeah its early people” out there – the games COUNT now, we actually have to play! I wouldn’t care either if we were losing to the Mets 4-3 or 2-1 in 10 innings but we’re not even doing that.

hawesg

April 7th, 2012
11:02 pm

Hey, mbjones. Heyward has a .375 OBP and a ,500 SLG in the young season. He’s not the problem. Heyward has an OPS of .875, Pastornicky has a .933 OPS. They are at the end of the order.

Meanwhile, McCann has an OPS of .125 and Uggla’s is .393.

Remember last year when Frediot kept Uggla in the heart of the lineup killing rallies with his offensive ineptitude? This year it’s McCann’s turn.

And Frediot will keep running him out there in the middle of the order because it “feels like” the right thing to do. Between that and using Hanging Chad Durbin in the wrong situations will lose you some ballgames.

JWOOD

April 8th, 2012
12:31 am

I am going to say that I think the Braves need something exciting to happen to sort of jumpstart the team. They seem flat, uninspired, etc. Hard work and focus is one thing, but they need something else to light a fire. I am not sure Gonzalez has the understated motivational skills that Cox had.

Blake

April 8th, 2012
12:42 am

Let the kid play tomorrow…

JNick

April 8th, 2012
4:04 am

McCann hasn’t looked the same since last August. Wonder if he hears the footsteps of young Bethancourt behind him…saying “Brian….your time here is almost up….”

Let's Go

April 8th, 2012
8:47 am

Everybody screamed for a power hitter this off season when what the Braves needed was someone, anyone, who could get a single with men on base. Screw the home run just give me a base hit.

Terry Dunlap

April 8th, 2012
9:04 am

What do you expect, when a entertainment company owns the Braves. They don’t want to spend any money to get some quality players. Need a better coach to help these young ball players use their talent properly….Enough said!! All the Braves are to the company, is a nice little tax write off.

Ralph

April 8th, 2012
9:34 am

Fatscisco on third, Prado in left and Diaz in right field today against the lefthander, anything else is a total no-brainer.

Samantha

April 8th, 2012
9:43 am

Good morning Ralph HAPPY EASTER

[...] Atlanta’s starting lineup within the next handful of days. Via David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Definitely the home opener [April 12], based on [Friday’s] workout,” Gonzalez told [...]

[...] Source: ajc.com [...]

bobby

April 8th, 2012
11:25 am

Maybe Chipper could be the batboy. Anything to get him on the field.

Reed this

April 8th, 2012
12:21 pm

Francisco needs to drop about 15 pounds.

We’re 2 games into the season, let’s see how they are doing in a month before we judge whether or not the Braves suck.

Remember our terribly slow start last year.

Gary H

April 8th, 2012
1:54 pm

Wow – with fans like those above, who needs enemies. There are only 160 game to go people. I think maybe you all are getting a little worked up too quickly here. Last year’s collapse – it sucked. Get over it. Time to move on and cheer your team.

MR

April 8th, 2012
2:00 pm

Rushing a hurting 40 year old player back to the field to shore up the hitting woes smacks of deep desperation by a club out of answers as to why can’t they score runs. Chipper whould have been riding the pine two seasons ago and the third base and left field positions solved. Someone let me know, maybe I’m wrong but is Frank Wren mentally handicapped? I would just like to be sure because if he is I’ll stop riding him for lack of production from this team and his seeming inability to solve problems…that would explain a lot.

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

April 8th, 2012
4:23 pm

Gonzales says that Francisco had some “good at bats”.

love it, hate it, don’t know which.

Add your comment