Archive for September, 2012

Big return for Bourn; Chipper might rest on Monday

Michael Bourn returned to the Braves lineup Sunday doing what he’s done all season – making an impact.

Win or lose, Bourn’s presence is usually felt, and that was the case again Sunday when he turned after missing six games with a sprained left thumb. Bourn went 2-for-3 with a double, an RBI, a walk and a stolen base, and the Braves scored six runs for only the second time since he got hurt Sept. 22 in Philadelphia.

“That was big for us, getting Michael back into the swing of things before the posteason gets here,” Chipper Jones said. “We’ve struggled at the top of the lineup for the last week without him. You see what he means to this offense when he gets back in there.”

An MRI revealed no structural damage to his thumb but Bourn had been dealing with soreness all week. But he felt good Sunday morning after taking a few swings in the indoor cages.

Possible rest

Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez is considering giving Chipper Jones a day to rest Monday in Pittsburgh after Jones …

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Chipper, Braves postgame quotes after Sunday’s win over Mets

CHIPPER JONES

On relief the weekend is over:

“Yeah, I had a lot of friends and family in town. Just a lot of attention that I’m glad is over and we can go to Pittsburgh and finish out the year and get ready for next Friday night back here when the fun is going to start.”

On if postseason tune-up for Medlen given atmosphere:

“Yeah had some electricity in the building tonight and Kris threw a great game again. The offense showed up. Big three-run homer by Rossy. But just a great weekend. Would have liked to have swept and given ourselves a little bit better opportunity to kind of make Washington nervous but have got to give some credit to those guys over there. They played a good game first game of the series. We bounced back nicely and got the last two.”

On Fredi offering chance for ovations:

“Well, I really wanted to finish the game. I told all the fans via twitter at the beginning of the week that I was going to start every game. I obviously didn’t know how things were going …

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Braves beat Mets in fitting Chipper farewell – updated

The Chipper Jones farewell tour finally hit home this weekend, in more ways than one.

Jones played the ninth inning of his final regular season game at Turner Field with a lump in his throat, as he was cheered and chanted for by some 50,635 fans. He broke into tears after the Braves’ 6-2 win over the Mets, when he embraced his mom and dad in the stands behind home plate.

“I’ve been fine all weekend,” Jones said. “I’ve been cowboy-ing up all week, trying to hold back the tears. But obviously when it comes full circle and you stand there in front of 50,000 people and tell your mom and dad that you love them…

“It means a lot to me to have gone 35-40 years from the backyard in Pierson, Fla. and here we are standing in a big league stadium in Atlanta. And I have my own weekend. That’s bringing it full circle.”

Jones had given Lynne and Larry Jones and a third consecutive sell-out crowd a jaunt down memory lane, with four charging plays at third base, two walks and his first base …

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Series preview: Braves at Pirates

Series preview: Braves at Pirates

When (TV): 7:05 p.m. Monday-Tuesday, 12:35 p.m. Wednesday (SPSO)

Radio: 680, 93.7, 100.5

Probable starting pitchers:

Monday: Braves LH Paul Maholm (13-10, 3.71 ERA) vs. LH Jeff Locke (0-3, 6.35)

Tuesday: Braves RH Tommy Hanson (13-9, 4.38) vs. RH Kevin Correia (11-11, 4.33)

Wednesday: Braves RH Tim Hudson (16-7, 3.62) vs. RH A.J. Burnett (16-9, 3.43)

About the Braves:

Batting: Martin Prado had a .324 average with 24 extra-base hits (five home runs) and an .873 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in his past 46 games before Sunday…. Jason Heyward is 20-for-60 (.333) with six extra-base hits, eight RBIs and a .946 OPS in 15 career games against the Pirates, including 10-for-21 (.476) with a homer in six games at Pittsburgh.

Pitching: Maholm is a longtime former Pirates pitcher with a 41-39 record and 3.70 ERA in 113 starts at PNC Park. The lefty is 4-4 with a 3.65 ERA in 10 starts for the Braves since being traded from the Cubs. With Chicago he …

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Prado racking up multi-hit games

When Martin Prado went 2-for-4 with two doubles on Saturday night, he reached 60 multi-hit games for the season. That extended his National League-leading total lead in that category and made him the first Brave to reach that mark since Terry Pendleton in 1992.

Prado is only the 10th player in franchise history to have 60 multi-hit games in a season.

Prado was also leading the majors with 93 two-strike hits, a category he led handily. Joe Mauer of the Twins was next-highest with 79, followed by Rangers shortstop and former Braves farmhand Elvis Andrus with 78.

Prado doesn’t place a lot of importance on numbers like that, saying about two strikes: “I’m just probably lucky or they’re just making mistakes. With two strikes, I’m just trying to put the ball in play.”

What’s most important to Prado is being healthy enough to play after missing five weeks last season with a staph infection, and being back to the player who uses all fields and doesn’t try to hit home runs.

“It’s made …

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O’Flaherty’s back improving, figures to return soon

Eric O’Flaherty said Sunday morning his sore back is continuing to improve and he hopes with another day or two of rest he can get back into a game in Pittsburgh.

“The plan is to try to throw a game or two in Pittsburgh, so you’re not rusty at all for the playoff game,” O’Flaherty said. “But it feels a lot better today than it did two days ago.”

He woke up Friday with a stiff back and it gradually worsened throughout the day. But O’Flaherty, who has had back problems throughout his career, considers this a minor flare-up. He’s figuring if he and the Braves play it right, it won’t go beyond that.

“I’ve actually made a lot of progress, even since a couple days ago,” he said. “I was pretty lucky I haven’t had any problem with it at all this year. It’s not the best timing, but it’s not the worst either.”

O’Flaherty said he was just telling his fiancé Heather Gualco he couldn’t believe he’s pitched all season without his back flaring up. He maintains a strict regimen of stretching …

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Bourn returns to Braves lineup

Braves center fielder Michael Bourn returned to the Braves lineup Sunday after missing six games with a sprained left thumb.

Bourn was not in the Braves’ original lineup Sunday morning but apparently showed manager Fredi Gonzalez he was ready to go after taking some swings in the indoor cages.

An MRI revealed no structural damage to his thumb, but Bourn had been dealing with soreness since he injured his thumb sliding head first into second base on Sept. 22 in Philadelphia.

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Braves quotes after Saturday’s shutout of Mets

**FREDI GONZALEZ

On Minor

“Outstanding. That’ll be his last start of the regular season, what a hell of a way to go. He gets to go above .500, 11-10, I don’t know more important. He had to be four, five games under. Terrific performance. I just wish we could score him some runs, so he would have a little breathing room instead of staring David Wright and Duda right down the barrel. He was terrific. Durbin and Avilan got us some big outs there in the seventh inning. Jonny did a nice job. We got a little crazy there in the ninth but we had the right guy on the mound to kind of settle him down and get two big punch outs there.”

On Minor’s ERA, low 2’s in second half of season

“Did he break 4.00? [4.12 for the season.] Yeah he’s been terrific. A majority right-handed hitting lineup and he’s pounding them in and he was really good.”

Concerned at all the way the offense is going?

“Well, that’s been for the most part our offense had been kind of in spurts. Yeah sure anything concerns …

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O’Flaherty nursing sore back

Braves reliever Eric O’Flaherty is nursing a sore back, which stiffened up on him Friday, so manager Fredi Gonzalez is planning to rest him as much as possible for the remainder of the regular season.

O’Flaherty has had problems with his back for years and has been able to manage it through stretching and rehabilitation exercises. The Braves don’t believe this particular flare-up is serious, but they will play it safe with him the final four games.

“(It’s) nothing as major as it had been before where we had to give him 15 days off,” Gonzalez said after Saturday’s game. “He felt a lot better today, so we’re going to stay off him. Hopefully we get him a game before that Friday game, the play-in game, but we’re just going to be cautious with him.”

O’Flaherty last pitched on Tuesday against the Marlins, which was his fourth day of work in five days.

O’Flaherty is the Braves’ primary setup man in front of Craig Kimbrel. The left-hander hasn’t given up a run since July 15, putting …

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Braves blank Mets 2-0, Minor completes strong 2nd half

Martin Prado doubled and scored in the first inning and doubled to drive in a run in the fifth, which was more than enough run support for Braves pitcher Mike Minor.

The young left-hander finished his impressive second half by limiting the Mets to three hits in 6-1/3 innings of a 2-0 win Saturday night at Turner Field, the sixth win in seven games for the Braves. But they trail NL East leader Washington by four games with only four to play.

The Nationals beat St. Louis 6-4 in 10 innings late Saturday, clinching at least a share of the division title and reducing their magic number to one to clinch the title outright. One more Washington win or one Braves loss will give Washington the NL East championship.

“Everybody’s watching [the scoreboard] to see what’s going on,” Braves catcher Brian McCann said before the Nationals-Cardinals game was completed. “It’s just part of the game. We’re already in the Wild Card game and we’re already playing at home. We’d like to win the …

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