Archive for the ‘Notes’ Category

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 …

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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. …

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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 …

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Medlen gunning for record win streak Sunday; Bourn update

Kris Medlen gets a chance to make a little history Sunday. If the Braves beat the Mets and win his 23rd consecutive start, he will break a three-way tie he now shares with Carl Hubbell and Whitey Ford.

Medlen matched the feat reached by both Hubbell (1936-37) and Ford (1950, 1953 with two years of military service in between) when the Braves rallied to win his 22nd consecutive start Tuesday night and clinch a postseason berth in a 3-2 win over Miami.

“It’s awesome,” Medlen said of the streak. “It’s crazy, but any time you can get anywhere near some kind of record, it’s awesome. It’s what you strive for, especially with the couple of names up there too that I’m with. It’s already surreal, but obviously I don’t plan on it ending (Sunday). Hopefully keep it going.”

One of the keys to Medlen’s success in the rotation has been the development of his curveball. He’d been primarily a fastball/change-up pitcher but is now comfortable commanding his third …

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Chipper overwhelmed by fans, emotion on tribute night

By all accounts, Chipper Jones has a photographic memory when it comes to baseball. He can recall sequences from pitchers he’s faced years ago, pulling a 1-0 fastball here or a 2-2 slider there from the library in his head of more than 10,000 plate appearances during his 19-year career with the Braves.

He’s going to need those mythical memory skills to retain all that took place in his honor Friday night during the Braves tribute to their future Hall of Fame third baseman.

The scope of it might even have been a little much for the clutch-est of hitters, who has thrived on the ninth inning like no other Atlanta hitter.

“I was an emotional wreck all night,” Jones said. “It’s so overwhelming. And the support and the love in the ballpark tonight was just something that it’s hard to prepare yourself for.”

Jones took each and every swing with a sold-out crowd of 51,910 – the seventh largest in Turner Field history – on their feet, chanting “let’s go, …

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Teheran, Delgado could pitch finale; Bourn update

Unless the Braves are still playing for a division title Wednesday,  Tim Hudson could be scratched from his scheduled start in that day’s regular-season finale at Pittsburgh. Kris Medlen is set to start the Oct. 5 Wild Card game, and if the Braves advance Hudson would start Game 1 of the Division Series on Oct. 7.

Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said Paul Maholm or Mike Minor would start Game 2.

Gonzalez said Hudson could get extra rest next week and rookies Julio Teheran and Randall Delgado could both pitch multiple innings in the finale against the Pirates.

“Maybe if we don’t have to use Huddy, then split it with the kids,” Gonzalez said. “Maybe you go with Teheran and Delgado, maybe throw [Ben] Sheets in there, give him a couple of innings.”

Sheets last pitched on Aug. 24, when he allowed nine hits and four runs in 4-1/3 innings at San Francisco. He went on the 15-day disabled list the next day and has been available (but unused) out of the bullpen since being …

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Next for Braves: New York Mets

Series preview: vs. Mets

When (TV): 7:35 p.m. Friday (WPCH), 7:10 p.m. Saturday (WPCH), 1:35 p.m. Sunday (FSSO)

Radio: 680, 93.7, 100.5

Probable starting pitchers:

Friday: Braves RH Tim Hudson (16-6, 3.61 ERA) vs. LH Jonathon Niese (12-9, 3.49)

Saturday: Braves LH Mike Minor (10-10, 4.27) vs. RH Chris Young (4-8, 4.21)

Sunday: Braves RH Kris Medlen (9-1, 1.64) vs. RH Jenrry Mejia (1-1, 4.91)

About the Braves:

Batting: The weekend’s honoree Chipper Jones has hit .311 with 46 doubles, four triples, 49 HRs and 159 RBIs in his career against the Mets. Martin Prado was leading the National League with 59 multi-hit games entering Thursday. He was batting .353 (30-for-85) in 22 games in September to raise his season average to .306. Brian McCann went 5-for-9 with two home runs and six RBIs in two games against the Mets in New York Sept. 8-9.

Pitching: Hudson is trying to reach 17 wins for the second time in three seasons. He is coming off a dominant outing at Citizens Bank Park in …

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Bourn still day-to-day with sore thumb; McCann rests

Michael Bourn missed his fourth game Thursday night since injuring his left thumb sliding head first into second base Saturday in Philadelphia, but the Braves still consider him day-to-day.

The center fielder has been assured by Braves hand specialist Gary Lourie there’s no structural damage, and he had an MRI to confirm it Thursday, manager Fredi Gonzalez said. The MRI revealed no ligament tear and Bourn was diagnosed with a slight sprain.

Bourn said he hoped he could return to the Braves lineup in the next couple of days, but he also didn’t rule out a return Friday night against the Mets.

“I wanted to play as soon as I can, but I knew the day after (injuring it), it was too sore,” Bourn said. “It swelled up the day after. But now most of the swelling’s gone. Some of the soreness is gone and it’s starting to feel better, but they just didn’t want me to rush out there and have any setbacks, which I can understand.”

Bourn said Thursday his thumb was still sore …

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Jones defends champagne celebration; Cox’s advice for Gonzalez

One thing that got Jones riled up Wednesday morning, he said, was hearing the Braves criticized on a local radio station for their champagne celebration after clinching a berth in the wild card playoff game. He made no apologies.

“If our season ends on October 5, we got to celebrate and that’s something these guys haven’t gotten to do,” Jones said of his younger teammates. “Why take it away from us? Every time we advance, you know what? We’re going to celebrate whether you like it or not, whether it’s apropos or not, we’ve earned it. And quite frankly we can afford to pop a top on some champagne bottles and some beer cans if we want to.”

The last man standing from the 14 consecutive division titles remembers the criticisms Bobby Cox-led teams took for being too buttoned-down and reserved.

“We finally let our hair down and we still get bad-mouthed, so what’s it going to be?” Jones said. “Make up your mind.”

Cox advice

Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez …

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Clinch or not, Braves still shooting for Nationals

Whether or not they clinched a berth in the wild card playoff game Tuesday night, the Braves and manager Fredi Gonzalez are still shooting for the Nationals and a division title.

The prospects are slim, as the Braves trailed them by five games in NL East with nine to play entering Tuesday night. But the Braves know there are benefits to keeping it close.

“It’s going to be difficult catching Washington because we don’t play them anymore,” Gonzalez said. “But at the very least let’s keep an eye on them and make it interesting. If we can get some wins here and make it two or three games closer, it’ll be interesting at the very least.”

The Braves would like to force the Nationals to keep playing their regulars, while building some momentum of their own toward the playoffs. They’d love to avoid the one-game wild card playoff, but if that’s their fate, the Braves want homefield advantage in the wild card playoff. Their magic number to clinch that over the St. …

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