Archive for May, 2012

Bourn, Uggla homers help Braves end 8-game skid

Like his predecessor Bobby Cox, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez isn’t inclined to give pregame speeches to fire up the squad. But with an eight-game losing streak being as close to desperate times as anyone in the organization cared to be, Gonzalez gave a speech Tuesday.

Judging from the results, he might not wait so long the next time the Braves are in a skid.

Home runs by Michael Bourn and Dan Uggla staked Randall Delgado to an early four-run lead, and the Braves hung on for a 5-4 win against the St. Louis Cardinals to snap an eight-game slide that was the Braves’ longest since April 2010.

“Everybody knows how bad we’ve been scuffling, ain’t no secret,” said Uggla, who hit a three-run homer with two out in the third inning for a 4-0 lead. “Just to get this first one, kind of ease the tension, ease the pressure a little bit, remember what this feels like, I think was obviously a big night.”

Delgado (3-5) allowed six hits and three runs in 5 1/3 innings for his first win …

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Gonzalez tries hitting pitcher eighth

Looking to do something to shake things up after an eight-game losing streak, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez batted the pitcher eighth on Wednesday night, something he did three times in 2011.

“You’ve got to try to push the envelope as much as you can sometimes,” Gonzalez said. “Here we are, lost eight in a row. You’ve got the right personnel to do it with (Jose) Constanza. You’ve got (Tyler) Pastornicky who has hit eighth for the most part all his time here, so that’s not going to be a big change for him. Why not?”

The Braves scored 11 runs and went 2-1 with the pitcher batting eighth in 2011…

Backup catcher David Ross began taking batting practice Tuesday but it’ll be the Washington series this weekend before he expects to be available off the bench. His strained right groin still bothers him running, he said.

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Freeman’s goggles scheduled to arrive Wednesday – updated

Freddie Freeman is expecting a shipment of prescription sport goggles from Oakley to arrive at 8 a.m. Wednesday, which means he could return to the Braves lineup as early as Wednesday night against the Cardinals.

“(Trainer Jeff Porter) said it’s going to take a good day of batting practice just to wear them and get used to them,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said after Tuesday’s game, when asked if Freeman would be back in the lineup Wednesday. “So we’ll see. I’m not ruling it out, but I’m not committing right now on that.”

Multiple sets of new contacts have irritated his eyes, so Freeman has been waiting on new goggles in the hopes they allow better peripheral vision than hastily-made glasses did.

Freeman has struggled with blurred vision and dry eyes since a May 4-6 series in Colorado. He’s hit .150 (9-for-60) in 16 games since and has been out of the lineup for the past four games to rest his eyes.

Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said a visit to Braves eye specialist Alan …

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Braves option Medlen to minors to prepare for starter’s role

After eight straight losses, the Braves made a move they think can cure some of the starting pitching ills that have plagued them lately, by sending Kris Medlen to the minors to stretch out for a move into a starter’s role.

The Braves announced Tuesday that they had optioned Medlen to Triple-A Gwinnett and scheduled him for three starts there to build up his arm strength. They recalled outfielder Jose Constanza to fill in on the roster for at least for a few days.

The weak links in the Braves rotation have been Mike Minor and Randall Delgado, who had combined to go 2-8 with a 6.18 ERA over 16 starts entering Delgado’s start Tuesday night against the Cardinals.

Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said no decision will be made about whose spot in the rotation Medlen could fill because a lot can happen in the next 15 days or so, and it depends on how all those concerned are pitching.

“Who knows?” Gonzalez said. “…That at least adds some depth to us as a starting rotation.”

For Medlen …

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Braves search for answers amid skid (Medlen move update)

So we were in the visitor’s clubhouse at Tampa Bay on May 18, two days before Randall Delgado gave up his second grand slam in a span of four weeks, when I asked Kris Medlen about the difficulty level of a midseason move from bullpen to starting rotation.

After Medlen moved from bullpen to rotation in May 2010, the Braves won 13 of 14 games he started.

After Medlen moved from bullpen to rotation in May 2010, the Braves won 13 of 14 games he started.

Reason being, Medlen had done it successfully in 2010, moving into the rotation in May and going 5-0 with a 3.86 ERA in 14 starts before blowing out his elbow in August and requiring Tommy John surgery. Now the Braves are going to have hit do it again, only this time he’ll have a few minor league starts to “get stretched out.” (The roster move, Medlen to Triple-A and Jose Constanza to big club, was announced at about the same time I was filing this blog today. I hadn’t expected it to happen this soon.)

Medlen made that move to an injury-depleted rotation in 2010 without going to the minors to get build arm strength and …

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Military family reunites during Memorial Day Braves game

Turner Field already felt emotionally charged and patriotic for Memorial Day, but Master Sgt. David Sims managed to make some 42,000 people audibly gasp with a collective “ohhhh.”

He and the Braves surprised his wife and four children with an on-field reunion during the Braves-Cardinals game, coming home a week early from his six-month deployment with the Air Force in Afghanistan.

Sims’s 24-hour journey from Kabul through Kurdistan, Germany, Ireland, and Baltimore ended along the first base line at Turner Field, shortly after he first spoke to his family in a video message taped from Afghanistan and broadcast from the Turner Field jumbotron.

“I love you so much, I miss you, I hope you’re having fun watching the Atlanta Braves,” Sims said in the video. “I can’t wait to be with you again. In fact, wait one minute.”

Master Sgt. David Sims reunites with wife Robin and kids at Turner Field Associated Press

Master Sgt. David Sims reunites with wife Robin and kids at Turner Field Associated Press

Then he popped out from the far end of the Braves dugout onto the field, …

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Braves quotes after Monday loss to St. Louis

**FREDI GONZALEZ

On how to break out of this slump

“Good pitching, good hitting, timely hitting, scoring some runs like we had been doing early on in the season. Right now we’re not doing either of those two things, but the one thing we’re doing [is] you see our team playing hard. And they’re not giving up. They’re battling. But two runs a game ain’t cutting it and giving up four or five is not doing it either. Go out tomorrow and get a good pitching performance and score some runs.”

On believing that team is still mentally in it

“Absolutely, these guys are playing the game hard, just got no runs for it.”

On Hanson’s four-run inning and other deficits making it hard on offense

“I think starting pitching sets the tone. I thought getting out of the bases loaded jam with no outs facing the middle of the order, I thought it was going to give us a boost, give Tommy a boost to keep going. He got into another jam in the second and got out of it. Maybe he just tired out. I don’t want …

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Braves’ losing skid reaches 8, and Monday record is 0-8

The Braves have an eight-game losing skid and an 0-8 record on Mondays after another ugly loss on Memorial Day, but it’s too early to say they are behind the eight ball in terms of their seasonal goals.

It is, however, fair to say they aren’t providing reason for confidence among their many followers.

Starting pitcher Tommy Hanson was knocked out early and the Braves’ patchwork offense stayed punchless in an 8-2 series-opening loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday afternoon at Turner Field.

“We’ve got to do something to get this monkey off our back,” Hanson said after giving up six runs and eight hits in 3-1/3 innings.

The Braves fell to 7-19 without Chipper Jones in the lineup, compared to 19-5 when he starts. He’ll be on the disabled list at least until June 8.

“We’ve got to turn this thing around soon,” said catcher Brian McCann, who went 0-for-4 in his return to the lineup after missing six starts due to sickness. “We’ve got to swing the bats a little bit better, and …

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Freeman to visit eye doctor again Tuesday

Freddie Freeman is still awaiting his prescription sport goggles and some answers for his blurred vision and dry eyes. A little of both could come on Tuesday.

Freeman is expecting shipments to arrive from both Under Armour and Oakley any day now, and is eager to test out both pairs. He is also scheduled for another visit to Braves eye specialist Dr. Alan Kozarsky.

Freeman said the multiple sets of contacts he’s tried are now causing a burning sensation. And he can’t see very well wearing a hastily-made set of athletic glasses because they don’t allow the proper peripheral vision to see pitches from his batting stance.

Freeman was diagnosed with corneal abrasions after playing in windy and dry conditions in a three-game series in Colorado on May 4-6. Freeman said his vision deteriorated from a prescription of 1.5 diopters in both eyes to 1.75 in his left and 2.0 in his right.

Freeman has worn contacts on the field since he was 14 years old, but now they’re irritating his eyes. …

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Braves’ slump has cut wide swath across team

It takes pretty much a complete team effort to put together a 22-9 surge like the one the Braves had earlier this season. And it takes a fairly complete team effort – with key injuries and illnesses added to the mix, in this case – for a talented team to lose seven in a row and get swept in consecutive series the way the Braves just did at Cincinnati and at home against the Nationals.

Bourn's triple was one of only two Braves hits Sunday, but even the standout leadoff man hasn't been getting on base much during Braves' slide. (Curtis Compton/AJC photo)

Bourn's triple was one of only two Braves hits Sunday, but even the standout leadoff man hasn't been getting on base much during Braves' slide. (Curtis Compton/AJC photo)

It’s gotten grim, folks. The Braves, with a sputtering offense, suddenly sloppy defense and erratic pitching, need a win in the worst way today against the Cardinals on Memorial Day at Turner Field.

Here’s two rays of hope for you on this holiday as you fire up the grill and kick back to see if your Bravos can get the ship righted: 1. Brian McCann is back in the lineup after missing six consecutive starts due to sickness, and …

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