Archive for the ‘Buzz’ Category

Voters dash Braves’ plan for Class-A team in N.C.

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — The Braves’ hopes of moving their high-Class A affiliate to Wilmington, N.C., were dealt a major blow Tuesday when voters issued a resounding “no” on a referendum to raise property taxes to pay for a proposed new ballpark.

Without $37 million in new taxes to build a ballpark on the Cape Fear River, the Wilmington plan is probably over and the Braves will remain in Lynchburg, Va., unless and until another option materializes. They had hoped to move to Wilmington in time for the 2015 season.

“As the mayor stated last night, they won’t pursue other [funding] options so most likely [it’s] dead,” said Mike Plant, Braves executive vice president of business operations. “Fortunately all the good people in Lynchburg always understood this wasn’t about any dissatisfaction with them or our location.”

The Braves had hoped to move in order to have a state-of-the-art ballpark like those used by their other minor-league affiliates, and to have a player-development …

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Schafer is back, but not to replace Bourn

The Braves reacquired Jordan Schafer from Houston on waivers Thursday, but quickly made it clear the enigmatic former Atlanta prospect was a low-cost addition for depth, not a contender to replace center fielder Michael Bourn if they lose the All-Star leadoff man to free agency.

Schafer, the Braves’ Opening Day center fielder in 2009, has a .221 career average and .305 on-base percentage with eight homers and 51 stolen bases in 238 games, including a .211 average  with four homers and 27 steals in 106 games for the Astros in 2012.

“We saw him on the waiver wire and felt he would improve our depth in the outfield,” Braves general manager Frank Wren said. “It doesn’t affect how we pursue or try to put together our team this winter. But he’s very talented. He has above-average talent in three areas – run, throw and defend.”

Also Thursday, the Braves announced the hiring of Dave Bialas as a minor league fielder coordinator and outrighted three players off their 40-man roster: …

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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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Braves priorities: CF and replacing Chipper

The Braves will have a couple of major needs to fill this winter and a good sum of money to throw at those needs with the cash they’ll free up from Chipper Jones retiring and the contract of Derek Lowe finally expiring (along another potential significant salary or two that could be dropped).

General manager Frank Wren said his offseason focus is narrower than it has been in some recent years: Re-sign or replace Michael Bourn in center field, and replace Chipper Jones with either a third baseman or with a left fielder if they move Martin Prado to third base.

“We’ve got to determine what we do it center field, and that kind of couples with leadoff,” he said. “And then how we replace Chipper. And beyond that, our club’s pretty solid.

“I think the exciting part for all of us is we’ve got a dynamic young core. We had three young guys that were in that lineup [Friday] that have a chance to be All-Star players and have a chance to be leaders of this team for a long time. Our …

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Chipper heads into retirement at peace

Chipper Jones packs up his locker at Turner Field.

Chipper Jones packs up his locker at Turner Field.

Reporters know a good time to catch Chipper Jones is when he’s putting on his socks. One pair of the “old man” sanitary socks, as he calls them, and two pairs of the blues take a while to put on. He’s a kept audience, and always a good one.

So it was strange to see Jones grabbing handfuls of socks and tossing them into a box Saturday afternoon as he stood at his locker in jeans, a T-shirt and a Braves cap backwards, as a retired man.

“I’m glad I don’t have to wear these anymore,” he said, as he tossed a package of soft knee braces into a box. “Geez.”

End-of-the-year packing took on new meaning for the 19-year Braves veteran who normally leaves a few things behind, knowing he’ll be back to start hitting again in the cages in January. But Jones had to clean out the locker completely; the Braves are planning to cut it out and give it to him.

Locker-cleaning is normally a time when Jones offers his final thoughts on the season and …

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Braves quotes after Wild Card loss to Cardinals


Of all the ways you imagined your career would end….

“This is not one of them. I can assure you that. It’s just one of those things that happens from time to time. You have a game defensively where you don’t make plays that you should. You give good teams extra outs, and it ends up biting you.

On the errors

“On my play, I made a good play on the pick got a two seam grip, and it just sailed on me, no other way to explain it. Looking back I realized later on that Beltran had to stop on the line drive, and if I had to do it all over again, I probably would have double clutched and made sure I got a four seam grip and give Uggla a little more time to get to second base, and give myself a better opportunity to make a truer throw. We gave up six runs on six hits, and I don’t know how many of them were unearned. But as far as I’m concerned the only one they should have scored was the homer.

On having a good season end by one sloppy playoff game and an umpiring …

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Medlen brings confidence to wild card playoff

If you weren’t listening closely you didn’t hear it. But in addition to his pitching talents, his record winning streak, and a starting nod in Friday’s wild card one-game playoff against the Cardinals, Kris Medlen has a knack for one-liners.

So when a reporter prefaced a question about one of his eye-popping statistics recently by saying “beyond the streak, which is obviously going to end at some point…,” a little voice from Medlen’s vicinity goes, “nuh uh.”

It went unnoticed, so Medlen came back with: “Will it?”

The question was more of an answer, really, and a nod to the power of his capacity for positive thinking.

The former 10th round pick of the Braves is 5-foot-10 – maybe with his hair spiked up – and his fastball tops out at about 92, but he is a sports psychologist’s dream. For those who preach picturing the positive, Medlen is a poster boy. What images can he conjure up at this point that don’t look good?

The Braves have won Medlen’s past 23 starts, one more than the …

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Braves quotes after season-finale win vs. Pirates


On getting standing ovation when he came to bat in sixth

“It’s nice to be appreciated. Smart fans, knowing that this is it. I was just glad to get in there. I’ve been working on some stuff the last couple of days, and it’s nice to get a nice result out of it. I think A.J. for coming right at me [laughter]. I’m proud of A.J. He’s a good guy and he’s done it right for a long time. Well-deserved for him coming off the field, as well.”

On winning 94 games

“That’s a lot of games. You win 94 games, a lot of teams win the division with that. I certainly think we played well enough to win the division this year, but Washington just played a little bit better. We’ve got to get over this one-game playoff thing to give ourselves a legitimate shot at what we were all shooting for out of spring training.”

On this September compared to last

“Like I said last year at the end of the year, I think we’ll look back on that September as a learning experience more than …

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Braves quotes after Tuesday’s loss to Pirates


On Hanson’s performance

“He got six innings in; that’s the first time he got six innings in a while. Just left some balls over the plate. I think at the beginning of the game he had three 1-2 [count] hits. The leadoff double in the first was a checked swing that just happened to go down the line…. But just a couple of pitches out over the plate. But he gave us six innings.”

On the game

“We accomplished what we wanted to. Got our bench guys some good at-bats. Overbay had some great at-bats, and Hinske had a big at-bat against a left-hander. Pastornicky had a couple of good at-bats, and Rossy. That’s a little scary there when he [Ross] takes that foul tip off the knee, and you’re playing these last two games and getting guys some rest and getting some [bench] guys some at-bats. That’s what keeps you up at night….

“Tomorrow we’ll run our starters out there for a couple of at-bats, and hopefully we’ll come out of it healthy. And hopefully get a win, too. That …

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Braves consider roster options for WC game

PITTSBURGH – Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said he might carry 16 position players and nine pitchers on his 25-man roster for Friday’s Wild Card game against the Cardinals, instead of his initial plan of 15 and 10.

He said he might carry a third catcher to give them flexibility to pinch-run early in the game for the catcher, if necessary.

He plans to carry three starting pitchers — Kris Medlen, Tim Hudson, Mike Minor — for the Wild Card game. Hudson would be available to start if anything — i.e. injury or sickness — happened to Medlen, and Minor would be an emergency pitcher if the game became an extra-innings marathon like the 18-inning playoff game the Braves played at Houston in 2005.

The 25-man roster would change for the Division Series if the Braves advance.

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