Archive for the ‘Notes’ Category

Slumping Braves center fielder Bourn gets a rest

Michael Bourn has hardly been alone among Braves hitters who’ve slumped recently, but no other has had such a profound effect on the team’s overall offensive performance.

As Bourn goes, so goes the Braves offense. And lately, he and it have not gone well.

The speedy center fielder hit .177 (14-for-79) with one extra-base hit, five runs and a .495 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in his past 22 games before Friday, when Bourn was out of the lineup for the fifth time this season and third time in the past 22 games.

Manager Fredi Gonzalez rested Bourn to give him consecutive days off – the Braves didn’t play Thursday – and get Reed Johnson in the lineup against Nationals starter Ross Detwiler. Johnson was 5-for-9 with a homer against the left-hander before Friday, while Bourn was 1-for-13.

Asked if fatigue might be affecting his recent performance, Bourn said, “I want to play in October. I don’t care if you’re tired; that don’t matter. But I understand …

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Graham, Cunningham among Braves minor league honorees

The Braves have named right-hander J.R. Graham their minor league pitcher of the year and outfielder Todd Cunningham their minor league player of the year. Those two as well as pitchers and players of the year at each of their minor league levels will be honored at Turner Field Saturday before the start of the Braves-Nationals game at 4 p.m.

The players will be available for an autograph session and Q and A with fans from 2:15-3:15 p.m. at the fan plaza at Turner Field. They will be presented with their awards on the field at about 3:45 p.m.

Graham, a fourth-round pick out of Santa Clara in 2011, went 12-2 with a 2.80 ERA in 26 starts this season for Single-A Lynchburg and Double-A Mississippi. He had 110 strikeouts and only 34 walks in 148 innings combined at the two levels.

Cunningham, a second round pick from Jacksonville State in 2010, returned from an injury-plagued 2011 to hit .309 (144-for-466) in 120 games for Double-A Mississippi, with 23 doubles, six triples, three …

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Braves postseason tickets go on sale Wednesday

Braves playoff tickets go on sale Wednesday at 10 a.m. for a potential wild card game and the first two games of the Division Series. Tickets range in cost from $18-$95 for all three games.

Entering Tuesday, the Braves were 5 ½ games ahead of St. Louis in the lead for the first of two wild card spots. If they win the top wild card spot, the Braves would host the other wild card winner in a one-game playoff on Friday Oct. 5. If the Braves win that game, they would host the first two games of the Division Series on Sunday, Oct. 7 and Monday, Oct. 8.

Tickets can be purchased at www.braves.com/postseason, the Turner Field ticket office, through Ticketmaster by phone 800-745-3000 or at Ticketmaster Publix locations, and the Braves Clubhouse Store at CNN Center.

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Simmons excited for “go time” in return to lineup

Milwaukee – The Braves spent two months trying to slow Andrelton Simmons down and give the fractured bone in his right hand time to heal. They’re finished with that now and are ready to sit back and watch him go to work.

Simmons, the 23-year-old whiz of a shortstop, rejoined the Braves lineup Monday night in Milwaukee for the first time since he injured his hand sliding into second base on July 8 in Philadelphia.

“It’s pretty cool,” said Simmons, who’ll have the final 21 games and potential postseason to make a difference. “Now is go time. This is where you want to be. You want to be in the race in September.”

Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez doesn’t foresee any restrictions or plan late-inning substitutions; he wants to let Simmons play as much as possible. Gonzalez will check with him every day, of course, but the Braves feel confident Simmons is ready to go after his six-game minor league rehabilitation assignment.

So is Simmons.

And he doesn’t seem to mind …

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Next for Braves: Milwaukee Brewers

Series preview: at Brewers

When (TV): 8:10 p.m. Monday-Wednesday (SPSO)

Radio: 680, 93.7, 100.5

Probable starting pitchers:

Monday: Braves LH Mike Minor (8-10, 4.58 ERA) vs. RH Wily Peralta (1-0, 5.14)

Tuesday: Braves RH Tim Hudson (14-5, 3.59) vs. RH Marco Estrada (2-6, 3.99)

Wednesday: Braves LH Paul Maholm (12-9, 3.67) vs. RH Yovani Gallardo (14-8, 3.76)

About the Braves:

Batting: After breaking up an 0-for-17 streak with a bunt for a single, Brian McCann has hit home runs in each of his past two games to give him 20 for the season. He went 4-for-5 Saturday against the Mets for his ninth career four-hit game and drove in the game-winning run Sunday with a sacrifice fly in the 10th inning. Since returning to the Braves lineup on Wednesday, Dan Uggla is hitting .389 (7-for-18) with three doubles and a home run.

Pitching: Minor took a no-hitter into the seventh inning of his past start Wednesday against the Rockies. He walked four but struck out seven in seven innings. Nine of …

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Sheets to pitch in sim-game conditions Monday

NEW YORK -- Ben Sheets will pitch three simulated innings against Braves hitters on Monday at Milwaukee as he continues his rehab from shoulder inflammation. There are no plans to return him to Atlanta’s starting rotation unless something happens with one of current five starters.

Sheets has been on the 15-day DL since Aug. 25, and got a cortisone shot to aid the recovery. He said his shoulder felt “great” when he threw a side session in the bullpen Friday.

The former Braves All-Star was out of baseball nearly two seasons after major elbow surgery in 2010, and the Braves signed Sheets to a minor league contract July 1. After two minor league starts, he went 3-0 with a 0.50 ERA in his first three big-league starts for the Braves, then 1-4 with a 5.34 ERA in his next five before going on the DL.

Shutout streak

When Paul Maholm and five relievers combined on a five-hitter in Friday’s 3-0 win against the Mets, it was only the second time the Braves had used six pitchers in a …

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Braves notes: Simmons, Sheets updates

NEW YORK — Rookie shortstop Andrelton Simmons, nearing his return to the Braves after eight weeks recovering from a broken hand, hit a solo home run in a 2-1 playoff win for Class-A Lynchburg on Friday.

The win gave the  Hillcats a best-of-three series win advanced them the second round of the playoffs. As of Friday afternoon, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said it was undecided whether Simmons would remain with Lynchburg for another game or two if they advanced, or rejoin the major league team in New York this weekend….

Starting pitcher Ben Sheets, on the DL with shoulder inflammation, said he felt good and was to throw a side session in the bullpen Friday at Citi Field. Gonzalez said there were no plans to return Sheets to the starting rotation for now, barring injury or a downturn in performance by another starting pitcher.

“The No. 1 thing is see how his health is,” Gonzalez said. “There’s no place to throw [in a game] after he throws a side. I guess you could throw him …

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Plenty of memories as Chipper makes final trip to New York

By Steve Hummer
steve@ajc.com

The relationship began on May 9, 1995 when a kid from the one-caution-light town of Pierson, Fla. — “Fern Capital of the World” — announced his intentions to cast his shadow over the great metropolis of New York.

The first of Chipper Jones’ thus-far 468 major league home runs came that day at Shea, an eighth-inning shot off Josias Manzanillo that took down the Mets 3-2. Hmmm, could it be that something special was afoot?

More than 17 years and a few thousand jeers later, this weekend will mark the end of one of baseball’s most personal rivalries when Jones makes his final pass through Flushing Meadows, Queens.

Of all the road stops along this season’s Farewell Chipper Tour, the three-day series that begins tonight at Citi Field figures to be the most emotionally confusing.

Before departing, Jones didn’t know quite what to expect from a crowd grown used to derisively chanting his given name – “LAR-reee, LAR-reee, …

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McCann back after missing three more starts for shoulder

Brian McCann returned to the Braves lineup Wednesday for the first time since getting a cortisone shot in his injured right shoulder after Saturday’s game. It was his second shot he’s had in the past month.

McCann is playing with a frayed labrum and cyst in his shoulder and plans to get through the season before having it evaluated to determine if it can be rehabbed through rest and strengthening, or if surgery might be needed.

David Ross caught games Sunday through Tuesday, the first time since May that McCann was out of the lineup for more than two consecutive games, although he’s missed more starts than ever at this point in a season.

“Hopefully get him going with the bat and get his shoulder calmed down as much as we can to get him through the season,” Gonzalez said. “I think before we were going [with a day off] almost every five days. I think we may do it a little different, maybe give him two [starts], then if there’s a lefty matchup, like Friday, give him that …

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McCann expected back in lineup Wednesday

Catcher Brian McCann was out of the Braves lineup for the third consecutive game Tuesday as he continued to await the effects of a cortisone shot in his ailing right shoulder. Manager Fredi Gonzalez said he expected McCann to return to the lineup Wednesday against the Rockies.

McCann hit in the indoor cages and played some catch on Tuesday afternoon.

McCann’s cortisone shot Saturday night was his second in less than a month, after getting one on Aug. 7 in Philadelphia. McCann, who was diagnosed with a cyst and a frayed labrum, has hit only .171 (13-for-76) with no extra-base hits and two RBIs since Aug. 1.

“He should be good to go tomorrow,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said.

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