Archive for October, 2012

Heyward wins Braves’ first Gold Glove since ‘07

For the first time in five years, gold has returned to the Braves outfield.

Jason Heyward won the Gold Glove Award for National League right fielders on Tuesday, the first Brave to win a Gold Glove since outfielders Andruw Jones and Jeff Francoeur won in 2007.

Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman and the entire Atlanta starting outfield were nominated for Gold Gloves this year, with Martin Prado among the finalists in left field and Michael Bourn in center. Colorado’s Carlos Gonzalez won in left and Pittsburgh’s Andruw McCutchen in center, denying Bourn what would’ve been his third Gold Glove in four years.

Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche, a former Brave, beat out Freeman and Cincinnati’s Joey Votto.

The win by Heyward, 23, was no surprise. He already won the Fielding Bible Award as the majors’ best right fielder for 2012. That award was based solely on statistical analysis, while the Gold Glove awards are determined in voting by major league managers and coaches.

“He’s …

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Braves retain McCann, Hudson, Maholm (updated)

Brian McCann and Tim Hudson will be back with the Braves next after having their contract options picked up Tuesday.

The Braves exercised 2013 options on McCann ($12 million), Hudson ($9 million) and pitcher Paul Maholm ($6.5 million) one day before a deadline to do so or make them free agents.

None of the moves was surprising, although there had been some speculation McCann’s option might be declined after the former six-time All-Star had shoulder surgery Oct. 16. He’s expected to require six months of rehab and could miss much of the opening month of the season.

Braves general manager Frank Wren said when team officials went over it, the decisions weren’t difficult.

“There was very little discussion,” he said. “All three guys are important parts of our club.”

McCann, 28, was the only Brave to make the All-Star team in each of his first six full seasons, and was a five-time Silver Slugger winner as the National League’s best-hitting catcher before 2012, when he …

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Gold Glove finalists: Freeman, entire Braves OF

The Braves have four Gold Glove Award finalists including the team’s entire starting outfield.

Center fielder Michael Bourn, right fielder Jason Heyward and left fielder Martin Prado are finalists at their respective positions along with Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman.

Winners will be named at 9:30 p.m. Tuesday during an hour-long Gold Glove show on ESPN2.

Cincinnati led the majors with six finalists, while the Braves had the second-most among NL teams. There were three finalists at each NL position except shortstop, where four were named.

Prado played five different positions in 2012 but was nominated at left field, where he made 111 starts and played in 119 games. He also started 20 games at third base, 11 at shortstop, eight at second base and four at first base.

Heyward won the  2012 Fielding Bible Award as the best defensive right fielder in the major leagues based on statistical analysis. He’s up against Cincinnati’s Jay Bruce and the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Andre …

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Ten Braves become free agents

Ten Braves were among the 137 major leaguer players who became free agents on Monday, the day after the World Series ended. The Braves had the most free agents in the National League and were second in the majors behind the Yankees’ 12.

Free agents can negotiate and sign with any club beginning at 12:01 a.m. Saturday.

For the Braves, the free-agent list included Jeff Baker, Miguel Batista, Michael Bourn, Matt Diaz, Chad Durbin, Eric Hinske, Reed Johnson, Lyle Overbay, David Ross and Ben Sheets, who announced he was retiring at the end of the 2012 season.

The Braves are expected to re-sign backup catcher Ross, and also are believed to have interest in bringing back reliever Durbin and outfielder Johnson. The Braves have said since the beginning of the 2012 season that they’d like to re-sign Bourn, but the center fielder and leadoff man, who is represented by powerful agent Scott Boras, could be deemed too expensive by the Braves.

In addition, four other Braves are eligible …

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Janish expected to make April return after shoulder surgery

Brian McCann isn’t the only Brave to undergo offseason shoulder surgery. Backup shortstop Paul Janish had surgery on his left (non-throwing) shoulder shortly after the season ended. The Braves say he’s progressing well in his recovery and is expected to return in April.

Janish dislocated his shoulder making a diving play at shortstop in Miami against the Marlins on Sept. 18. He held off on surgery in the hopes that he could rehabilitate the injury and possibly play if the Braves made a run deep into the playoffs. But after the Braves were eliminated in the wild card game he went forward with the surgery.

Janish, who made $850,000 last season, is eligible for arbitration for the first time this winter. He proved a valuable piece for the Braves filling in for two months for the injured Andrelton Simmons after the Braves acquired him in a trade from the Reds. Janish is known primarily for his glove, which is what the Braves needed most. He hit .186 (31-for-167) in 55 …

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Reminiscing with Lemke about 1991 World Series

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Lemmer gets mobbed after scoring winning run in bottom of the ninth in Game 4

With the World Series set to begin between the Tigers and Giants, thought I would share excerpts from a recent interview I did with former Brave Mark Lemke, one of the heroes of the 1991 Braves World Series team that charmed this city and re-defined the course of this franchise. That was the first of a record 14 straight division titles won by the Braves.

On Lemke’s poignant memories from that postseason:

“The biggest thing that sticks out to me obviously is the final catch when we finally clinched. David Justice catching the ball, (John) Smoltz and (Greg) Olson (embracing), that kind of stuff sticks out, and obviously the great pitching up in Pittsburgh by (Steve) Avery and Smoltz. But the thing that sticks out the most to me was how packing your bags was surreal for that trip to Pittsburgh because the trip continued on if you win. And we were down three games to two. I’m not saying you don’t think …

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Beachy working on patience as he begins throwing program

(Staff writer Carroll Rogers is filling in for David O’Brien.)

While the rest of the baseball world is winding down, Braves right-hander Brandon Beachy is just getting cranked up in his recovery from elbow reconstruction surgery.

And he couldn’t be more excited about it. The night before Beachy threw for the first time in four months, he laid out his clothes like it was the first day of school.

“I felt giddy, like a little kid,” Beachy said. “It was fun.”

The sling and the long face are long gone for Brandon Beachy

The sling and the long face are long gone for Brandon Beachy

Beachy is four months removed from his June 21 surgery and a week into his throwing program. He’s still simply lobbing the ball from 30 feet, playing catch with Braves physical therapist Lloyd Van Pamelen in a grassy lot outside his rehabilitation clinic in Gwinnett.

“If I was throwing it left-handed you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference,” Beachy said. “But it’s better than nothing.”

On Wednesday he’s scheduled to move back to throwing from 45 feet and the …

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The top 5 World Series of all time

Years later during an interleague series at Minnesota, retired Jack Morris and the Braves' John Smoltz discussed their 1991 Game 7 matchup that was one of the greatest in World Series history. (AP photo)

Years later during an interleague series at Minnesota, retired Jack Morris and the Braves' John Smoltz discussed their 1991 Game 7 matchup that was one of the greatest in World Series history. (AP photo)

I’m sure there will be plenty of disagreement, but here’s how I rank the top five World Series. Let me know how you’d rank ‘em, if you’d put another series or two in the top five instead of any of these and why.

5. 1972: Athletics over Reds in seven games

The budding “Big Red Machine” was favored; the Oakland A’s played without injured Reggie Jackson. But unheralded Gene Tenace, with five homers in the season, hit four in the World Series and two in a 3-2 opening victory. The A’s led the series 3-1 before Pete Rose sparked a 5-4 victory in Game 5. Cincinnati took Game 6 before Catfish Hunter won in relief in a 3-2 Game 7.

4. 1924: Senators over Giants in seven

Washington won the first and only World Series title for the nation’s capital, despite losing both of Walter “Big …

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McCann faces 6-month rehab after shoulder surgery (updated)

After playing while hurt for much of a career-worst 2012 season, Braves catcher Brian McCann had shoulder surgery Tuesday that will likely require a recovery period of at least six months and force him to miss the beginning of next season.

The Braves haven’t said if they will pick up the $12 million option on McCann’s contract for 2013. It was generally assumed they would, then decide later whether to offer a contract extension to the six-time former All-Star catcher who would otherwise become a free agent.

Dr. Xavier Duralde, Braves orthopedist, did the surgery on the posterior portion of the right shoulder, which should prevent further subluxations (partial dislocations) like those McCann endured frequently while hitting during 2012. A tear in the labrum was larger than an MRI had shown and was repaired arthroscopically.

Noted specialist James Andrews and two others also studied the scan from a contrast dye-injection MRI on the shoulder last week and concurred on …

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Hudson hopes for extension, wants to finish as Brave

He’s Southern through and through, and Braves pitcher Tim Hudson would like to keep it here for the rest of his career.

The Braves are expected to pick up a $9 million team option on Hudson’s contract for 2013, relatively inexpensive for a pitcher of his pedigree. But at age 37, it’s uncertain what kind of contract the team might offer beyond next season.

“I’d love to stay here,” said Hudson, a native of Phenix City, Ala., and former Auburn star who’s been with the Braves for eight seasons. “Obviously for next year, but I’d love to stay here as long as they’ll have me. I understand a business is a business.”

Hudson is 10-1/2 months removed from major back surgery and barely a week removed from his seventh season of at least 16 wins. He opened the season on the disabled list recovering from lumbar-fusion surgery and made 28 starts (second-fewest since his rookie year), but Hudson (16-7) still led the Braves in wins and pitched 179-1/3 innings — one-third of an inning behind …

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