Archive for April, 2012

Huddy’s return; B-Mac, Chipper in lineup

The Braves get their ace, Tim Hudson, back today, and this is no small matter. They also have Brian McCann and Chipper Jones back in the lineup today, which I don’t think is entirely coincidence, although the Braves tested McCann this morning to make sure his strained side could hold up to the rigors of hitting and throwing before agreeing to let him return a day earlier than expected.

Hudson makes his season debut Sunday, five months after back surgery.

Hudson's season debut is today, five months after back surgery.

“We’re all excited,” manager Fredi Gonzalez said of Hudson’s return. “We’re excited to have him back. We’ve got everybody in the lineup today and we’re all rooting for him to have a great outing.”

Gonzalez said that while Hudson could probably handle more than 100 pitches, the Braves would likely limit him to 100 for his first two starts.

It’s easy to take Hudson for granted. The undersized veteran doesn’t overwhelm hitters with 98 mph fastballs and is rarely mentioned as one of the top pitchers of hi era, …

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Pastornicky’s confidence is on the rise

Three days off did the trick for Tyler Pastornicky. The Braves sat the rookie shortstop for three games on their trip out west, giving him a chance to clear his head, and it’s apparent he used the time to its full advantage.

Pastornicky was hitting .175 when Gonzalez decided to give him some time to work with hitting coaches Greg Walker and Scott Fletcher. He’s hit safely in the five games since his return, while going 8-for-16 (.500) to raise his season batting average to .263.

Pastornicky said the biggest difference has been mental.

“The guys on the team have been awesome, comforting me and letting me know that I am good enough to be here,” Pastornicky said. “It’s something where I’ve got to get comfortable with that fact. It’s been a lot better. I don’t think it was really anything physical or mechanically. I think it was getting comfortable up there again. Once that started to happen, you get your swagger back.”

Pastornicky said he also watched some …

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McCann, Chipper both back in Sunday lineup

The Braves weren’t counting on having Brian McCann back until Monday, but the catcher’s side was feeling good and he wanted to play Sunday. So a text message to manager Fredi Gonzalez and a quick run-through with Braves trainer Jeff Porter when he got to Turner Field was all it took to get him back in the lineup.

“If he’s OK with it, I’m OK with it,” Gonzalez said. “Who wouldn’t want a six-time All-Star, five-time Silver Slugger in the lineup? Ah no, take three more days.”

Chipper Jones was back in the lineup on Sunday too despite some concern after a pinch hit at-bat Saturday night over lingering pain in his surgically-repaired left knee.

Saturday night was the third game the Braves have played this season without both Brian McCann and Chipper Jones in the lineup, and they lost 4-2 to the Pirates. The Braves are 1-2 overall in those games.

McCann strained a ribcage muscle on his right side making a throw on Friday night against the Pirates. The Braves …

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Chipper uncertain for Sunday; Gearrin to be optioned to Triple-A

Chipper Jones isn’t ruling out a return to the lineup Sunday against the Pirates, but his surgically-repaired left knee is bothering him enough that he might need another day off.

The Braves are hoping by giving him a day or two off here and there, Jones can stay fresh enough to play consistently. It’s worked well enough so far, as he’s hit 12-for-41 (.293) with three home runs in the 13 games he’s been able to play.

But Jones said his knee is bothering him to the point where he might not be able to play a full nine innings when he does play.

“Ever since (Friday) night about the seventh or eighth inning, it’s been really, really bad,” Jones said. “I don’t know what the prognosis is. I don’t know why it’s hurting the way it is. But if it continues to affect me the way it is, I can’t go out there and play nine innings. I can’t do it.”

Still, Jones said with the right about of improvement, he’ll play Sunday.

“If I wake up and I come in and I have a …

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Braves postgame quotes after Saturday’s loss to Pirates

JASON HEYWARD

On not getting the big hit:

“We battled. That’s all we can do is battle, put ourselves in situations to try to win a big game and get a big hit. it’s not going to happen all the time.”

On Bedard:

“For tonight as a whole and even last night, they made pitches and didn’t miss too many spots. When they threw a strike it was where they wanted it or off the plate. They didn’t miss too many times over the plate. He did well tonight.”

On Delgado:

“Up here as a pitcher, you’ve got to throw offspeed for strikes more often than your fastball sometimes to get ahead and from what I’ve seen playing with Randall, his best pitch is his fastball. When he’s not able to go up there and say ‘let me get this over,’ and then let’s go to offspeed.’ It’s going to take some adjustments. We see him working. He battled. It was only 4-2. He and Rossy worked well to keep us in the game close. We just couldn’t catch up tonight.”

RANDALL DELGADO

On what …

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Ever-versatile Medlen celebrates base hit over first save

First major league save? Not that big a deal to Braves reliever Kris Medlen, who earned the honors with three innings to finish off Friday’s 6-1 win over the Pirates, which allowed Eric O’Flaherty, Jonny Venters and Craig Kimbrel the night off.

Medlen was presented with the lineup card, which is sitting in the back of his locker, and the ball, which he tossed to a kid in the stands as he left the game.

“It’ll probably mean more to him than me,” Medlen said. “If I was a closer, I think it’d be a big deal. Obviously I’m happy about it, but I expect to do stuff like that when I’m put in situations.”

Now his base hit? That’s another matter altogether for the ever versatile pitcher and former switch-hitting college shortstop. Medlen collected the sixth hit of his major league career Friday after he got to bat in the bottom of the eighth inning. He joked Saturday he’d be lobbying to pinch hit again, and manager Fredi Gonzalez might actually take him up on …

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Hudson excited for Sunday return to mound

Tim Hudson is set to make his return from spinal fusion surgery Sunday against the Pirates, right on schedule.

He’s been aiming all along for late April or early May and got there by making four minor league rehabilitation starts without any health-related issues. Now he’s looking forward to pitching a season without back pain for the first time in a few years.

“It’s going to be fun waking up the day after I pitch and not feel like Fred Sanford,” Hudson said.

Hudson built up to 110 pitches in his final start for Triple-A Gwinnett, but manager Fredi Gonzalez said Hudson will likely go no more than 100 pitches or six innings in his first start coming out of his own “spring training.”

Hudson went 0-2 with a 7.71 ERA in two starts for Single-A Rome on his rehab assignment but rounded into form in two Triple-A starts. He allowed only one earned run in 10 2/3 innings, giving up eight hits, walking five and striking out eight.

“I feel like I got my legs under me,” …

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McCann’s ribcage muscle improving, hopes to return Monday

Brian McCann and the Braves were encouraged Saturday by how much better McCann’s strained ribcage muscle felt on Saturday and hope to have the All-Star catcher back in the lineup as early as Monday.

McCann, who suffered an intercostal strain Friday night on a throw to second base, said he woke up Saturday morning relieved.

“I’m a little sore up under my ribcage, but it’s just going to be a matter of dealing with a little soreness, which is a lot better than I thought last night,” McCann said. “…I woke up and knew that it would only be a couple-day thing. I don’t think I can re-injure it doing anything. It’s just a matter of dealing with a little twinge.”

McCann said after he made the throw to second on a wild pitch in the fourth inning, it felt like he had a cramp as he went back into his crouch. He said he felt it again in the fifth throwing to second base on a pitch-out. He came out after grounding out in the bottom of the fifth, something both he and manager …

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Video: Braves break out in series-opener vs. Pirates

Dan Uggla and Chipper Jones each had two RBI’s as the Atlanta Braves topped the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-1. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Carroll Rogers reports postgame from Turner Field.

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Braves quotes following Friday’s win over Pirates

DAN UGGLA

On the diving play on the pop-up:

“I took a peek to see where Mikey was and it turns out I kind of stole it from Pastornicky. I don’t even think he was going to have to dive for it. I was just glad that one of us caught it.”

On taking a 2-1 lead vs. Burnett:

“Yeah he’s always tough. He really battled us good. We had an opportunity late in the ballgame and we took advantage of it. Tommy did a great job keeping the game where it was, then Medlen came in and did a great job and did the same.”

On getting hitting, defense, and pitching:

“The biggest thing right now is our starting pitching. Any time we can have a lead going into the sixth or seventh inning, we’ve got a chance. Throw in some timely hitting and grind out at-bats and pick each other up. That’s the goal every day.”

On continuing good work off road trip:

“Everybody knows how important these games are, in September. To take away as many games as we can from other teams and win the ones …

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