Archive for April, 2012

Jurrjens on demotion: “Nobody to blame but myself”

The results have been poor, his pitches ineffective, but Jair Jurrjens’ attitude is something the Braves struggling ace has going for him.

Jurrjens reported to Triple-A Gwinnett on Wednesday, two days after being told of his minor league demotion, and it sounded like his mind was in the right place.

Disappointed? Yes. Angry? No.

“If you’re honest with yourself, I have nobody to blame but myself,” said Jurrjens, who was 0-2 with a 9.37 ERA in four starts this season. “I cannot be mad at anybody other than me.”

Jurrjens called it a “reality check,” and said it hasn’t been easy.

Monday was a long night for him, after he was called into manager Fredi Gonzalez’s office in the visiting clubhouse at Dodger Stadium, following three rough innings in a 7-2 loss.

“It was hard,” said Jurrjens, 26, a first-time All-Star in 2011. “Especially when you have a couple years in the big leagues, and it looks so easy and suddenly you go through a rough patch and it’s …

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It’s early, but Braves’ hitting progress significant

LOS ANGELES — After firing hitting coach Larry Parrish immediately after the 2011 season, Braves GM Frank Wren said changes needed to be made in the team’s approach at the plate. He wanted hitters to be grinders, to always aim for quality at-bats and to make opposing pitchers work all night.

Chipper Jones homered on his 40th birthday Tuesday, and the Braves improved to 11-2 in games he's played on his birthday. (AP photo)

Chipper Jones homered on his 40th birthday Tuesday, and the Braves improved to 11-2 in games he's played on his birthday. (AP photo)

Actually, why don’t I just give you exactly what he said when he met with a few of us after the Parrish firing.

“I like to see hitters battle at the plate,” Wren said. “Take your shot if you feel like you’ve got a pitch that you can drive out of the park, but after that I want to see you battling. I want to see guys be tough outs. We didn’t have enough tough outs [in 2011]. The bottom line is, we didn’t battle at the plate. And that’s got to change. And philosophically, that was probably the most frustrating part. And I’m not saying that …

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Braves quotes after Tuesday win over Dodgers

**CHIPPER JONES

On team being 11-2 on his birthday

“That’s good. Everybody gets as jacked up as I do to play on my birthday; that’s cool.”

Why do you think the record’s so good on your birthday

“I really couldn’t tell you. Probably luck more than anything else, but I’m fortunate today. I really wanted us to win this ballgame and make a series out of it. They took it to us pretty good last night. It’s good that we bounced back and won this ballgame.”

“I’m just glad to have the opportunity to go out there and play baseball at the age of 40. It’s been a fun ride, and it’s a good way to have my last birthday in the big leagues go, to have it come out the right way.”

On Pastornicky’s big game

“You could tell the kid was pressing a little bit. He’s got a million swing thoughts going through his mind. I just told him tonight, ‘Hey, just play. Go hit. Play the game. Play the best way you know how.’ And man, he got some results. It was …

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Prado’s 9th-inning triple lifts Braves to 4-3 win

LOS ANGELES – On a night when the youngest Brave and oldest Brave came through in big ways, it was Martin Prado’s two-out triple in the ninth that proved decisive.

Prado’s  drive to the center-field wall drove in Tyler Pastornicky with the go-ahead run, and the Braves hung on for a 4-3 win against the Los Angeles Dodgers, stopping a two-game slide and evening the series at a game apiece.

“We all battle,” said Prado, who also drove in a tying run in the fifth. “That’s the important thing about this team, we feel like we can do this even in tough situations.”

Craig Kimbrel struck out Tony Gwynn Jr. with two on in the ninth for his sixth save, and the Braves handed the Dodgers their first loss in eight games at Dodger Stadium.

Chipper Jones homered on his 40th birthday and 22-year-old shortstop Pastornicky had three hits and a walk, including a leadoff single in the ninth. The Braves improved to 11-2 in games Jones has played on his birthday.

“That’s good — …

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Chipper in lineup on 40th birthday; Gearrin up

LOS ANGELES – Chipper Jones woke in the team hotel Tuesday on his 40th birthday with a sore – but not as sore – left knee.

He said he read about 30 happy-birthday emails and texts. Slept some more. Woke and read about 30 more new emails and texts.

“I’ve got a ton of friends out there, both inside and outside the game, that thought enough to say happy birthday,” he said. “And it’s appreciated.

Then he went to Dodger Stadium, opened a pair of size-13 skateboard shoes – gift from a young Californian, Braves pitcher Kris Medlen – and didn’t open a bottle of Crown Royal (which he sat in his locker, still in the decorative box, for later).

It’s not every day, or decade, that a teammate turns 40, so the Braves had a brief team meeting/party for the third baseman they affectionately call “Battleaxe.” They gave him a cake, which looked like one he might buy for one of his four young sons.

The Braves laughed and sang “Happy Birthday” …

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Braves did right thing sending down Jurrjens

LOS ANGELES – Optioning Jair Jurrjens to Triple-A Gwinnett is a move the Braves did not want to make, unless they absolutely had to.

And really, they pretty much had to.

Jair_Jurrjens

Jurrjens was demoted after his latest rough outing Monday night against the Dodgers. Statistically speaking, the 2011 All-Star has been the worst pitcher in the majors this season.

I mean, they just couldn’t keep running Jurrjens out there once every five days the way he was pitching. Statistically, he was the worst pitcher in the major leagues so far this season, with a 9.37 ERA and .411 opponents’ average in four starts.

With the 2011 All-Star showing no real signs of snapping out of his funk and getting back to where he was 10 months ago, it was not good for him and certainly not for the Braves to keep starting him and hoping things would change.

So they sent him down. Bold move in this day and age for a 26-year-old, established pitcher. Not to mention a 2011 All-Star.

They optioned him after last …

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Braves quotes after Monday loss to Dodgers

Note: All of the interviews below were conducted prior to the Braves’ announcement that Jair Jurrjens was optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett, which was made about 45 minutes after the game at 10:45 p.m. PT (1:45 a.m. ET), after reporters left the clubhouse and returned to the pressbox.

***FREDI GONZALEZ

“I tell you what, I’ve never seen … yeah, there were some balls hit hard, but there were some balls that you couldn’t have thrown them [to a spot in the field] any better. I think JJ was a victim of some of that. Not all of it, but some of it. Some of the balls were over the plate again, but it was just one of those days for him. I thought Livan did a terrific job there, picking up some innings and not using the bullpen. And again he gets victimized by ball down the line that’s, I don’t know, may a couple of inches fair, by Uribe and the bases loaded.

“Overall I think the good thing was we didn’t get into our bullpen.”

Had some opportunities, bases loaded strikeout …

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Jurrjens optioned to Triple-A after loss

LOS ANGELES – The struggles of Jair Jurrjens continue unabated, and the question on a lot of folks’ minds was how long the Braves could afford to keep the right-hander in their starting rotation.

That was answered late Monday when Jurrjens was optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett, less than an hour after the Braves’ 7-2 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Jurrjens (0-2) gave up nine hits and five earned runs and left without recording an out in the fourth inning of the loss, the second in a row for the Braves since they won 10 of 11.

“We optioned Jair tonight to give him a chance to work through his difficulties at the Triple-A level  and hopefully come back ready to help us contend,” Braves general manager Frank Wren said in a text message after the announcement.

“He is not having any health or injury issues, just needs to get back on track pitching-wise.”

Sidearm reliever Cory Gearrin was recalled Tuesday from Triple-A Gwinnett, where he had 15 strikeouts and two walks in 12-1/3 …

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Chipper hopes to play on 40th birthday Tuesday

LOS ANGELES – He turns 40 on Tuesday, and Chipper Jones felt his age Monday when he was out of the lineup for the series opener against the Dodgers to rest his sore left knee.

The future Hall of Famer had trouble getting down the first-base line Sunday at Arizona when he grounded into a double play as a pinch-hitter. The soreness lingered Monday, along with some minor fluid buildup after the flight from Phoenix to Los Angeles.

“Yeah, I was struggling yesterday,” said Jones, who had arthroscopic knee surgery March 26, his sixth knee surgery and third on that knee. “I have some pain on the inside joint line that’s causing some problems. I just have days where it’s, you know, it’s not working. Where it’s sore. But I’ve been having pretty consistently right there in the joint line.

“I’ve been getting treatment on it for this last little bit, and yesterday was about as bad as it’s been since I’ve had surgery. As you could tell, I wasn’t getting down the …

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Freeman named NL Player of the Week

LOS ANGELES – After pounding out eight extra-base hits and 14 RBIs in six games, the Braves’ Freddie Freeman was named National League player of the week Monday, the first time he’s won the award.

“More importantly, we won five games during the week,” said Freeman, who hit .478 (11-for-23) with five doubles and three homers during the week that ended April 22, helping the Braves put together a five-game winning streak.

The 22-year-old first baseman did all his damage in six games, as he was rested April 16 after hitting just .162 with one RBI in the first nine games of the season.

Freeman went from slumping to scorching after the one-day break. He five multi-RBI games in the next six.

“Individual accolades don’t mean a lot right now,” he said. “We’re just trying to win ballgames. We won five last week and that’s the most important thing,” he said.

Freeman had two homers and a career-high five RBIs in Thursday’s 10-2 win against the Diamondbacks, with several family …

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