Jurrjens suddenly has chance to rescue his career, Braves

Jair Jurrjens will be back on the mound for the Braves in Boston. (Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

Jair Jurrjens will be back on the mound for the Braves in Boston on Friday. (Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

(Updated: 7 p.m.)

There is a scene in the movie Bull Durham when Crash Davis learns he is close to breaking the minor league home run record. Because a minor-league record generally isn’t something a professional athlete embraces, Crash asks that the pursuit be kept quiet (and the fact he eventually hooks up with Susan Sarandon really has nobody feeling sorry for him, anyway).

Well, here’s the good news for Jair Jurrjens: He will return to the big leagues long before any Triple A record is within his reach and, in his words, “I’m not planning to come back here.”

Jurrjens is expected to pitch one or two innings for the Gwinnett Braves on Tuesday night. Then he’ll join the organization that pays his major league salary in time for a Friday start at Boston.

Unfortunately, Jurrjens couldn’t make it out of Lawrenceville before being included in the Gwinnett team photo. Or the set of team player cards now on sale at Coolray Field. (Posters advertising the $10 pack feature Jurrjens.)

“I’ve got my card,” Jurrjens said, smiling. “I’m going to add it to my collection.”

This is not the same guy who two and a half weeks ago battled a virus that leveled him for several days, decided to pitch anyway (with disastrous results) and wondered aloud if the Braves had written him off. He felt blindsided when the Braves sent reliever Kris Medlen to Gwinnett to work on his arm strength for a potential transition back to starter – effectively leap-frogging Jurrjens.

“I understand it’s a business, and they need to do what they need to do,” Jurrjens said a few weeks ago. “But you have feelings, and it hurts when you feel like you’re not wanted somewhere.”

A poster advertising the set of Gwinnett Braves' trading cards features Jurrjens.

A poster advertising the set of Gwinnett Braves' trading cards features Jurrjens.

Much has changed. Jurrjens’ legs feel stronger. The velocity on his pitches is back up. He is coming off two strong starts since the sick night meltdown (10 runs, six earned, 12 hits in 4 2/3 innings). He is happy to get another chance with the Braves but disappointed by the circumstances (Brandon Beachy’s elbow injury). But at least he knows he’s back on the organization’s radar.

“No matter what you achieve in your career, there are always going to be times when you go through struggles,” Jurrjens said. “It was tough, but a lot of positive things came out of this journey.”

Does he regret his words? Not really.

“I wasn’t trying to say it was the Braves fault,” he said. “I knew I didn’t pitch well. Some friends said next time I want to say something, just try not to insult anybody. But I wasn’t trying to blame anybody. If somebody took it the wrong way, I’m sorry.”

He has read and heard the criticism.

“Those things motivate me even more,” he said. “It’s not like my career has been easy. I was a free agent from Curacao.”

Point taken.

In his last two starts, Jurrjens allowed two runs in six innings to Lehigh Valley and took a shutout into the sixth against Columbus before allowing a grand slam. (“I made one bad pitch out of 110 and it cost me four runs.”)

Is he the same pitcher who went 12-3 with a 1.83 ERA in the first half last season? No. But he believes he can get there again. So does Gwinnett pitching coach Marty Reed, who has seen improvement in the pitcher’s strength, mechanics and confidence.

Reed said Jurrjens “was pressing” when he first arrived in Gwinnett. “We had to tell him, ‘This is not going to be a short fix.’”

The June 1 start against Charlotte fed criticism. But some either didn’t know the background or didn’t care. Jurrjens shouldn’t have pitched that night because of a stomach virus so bad that even two days later, when he tried to play catch, “I had to stop after 10 pitches because I got dizzy.”

So why pitch?

“The game before that I pitched so good, and I didn’t want to lose that feeling,” Jurrjens said.

Reed took that night as a positive sign.

“The results didn’t work out, but when you’re in the trenches you want guys who are willing to [play] when they’re not 100 percent,” he said.

Jurrjens said he’ll “just try to have fun” against Boston and not put too much pressure on himself.

“It’s not like I haven’t done this before,” he said.

He hopes this was just a detour.

By Jeff Schultz

163 comments Add your comment

DawgInaTruck

June 18th, 2012
8:41 am

Other than the start when he was sick (and not making excuses) his velocity has been good and he has been sharp. The kid is too young and too talented to give up on, you never have too much quality pitching.

Bill

June 18th, 2012
8:42 am

Got to have some faith..I believe he will be ok. I hope and pray he will. Go Luck JJ… Giv’em hell !

Bill

June 18th, 2012
8:45 am

Welcome Back Jeff..You were missed. Happy late Fathers Day….

Joey

June 18th, 2012
8:52 am

As evidenced lately, Jeff, it doesn’t matter if he goes 9 innings with 1 run allowed.

He would still lose.

1-0.

TampaGator

June 18th, 2012
8:56 am

How many major league teams have a farm team within 20 minles of its stadium? At least JJ had to be feeling like he was living in a big league city. I hope he comes up and goes 6 or 7 and gives up no more than 2 runs.

TampaGator

June 18th, 2012
8:57 am

20 “minutes”……not sure what happened with that.

Ted Striker

June 18th, 2012
8:57 am

Nothing to lose. Everything to gain.

VABravesFan

June 18th, 2012
9:04 am

Good thing we’ve got so many pitchers. Somebody’s got to get the Braves back on track…. why not Jurrjens?

Bill

June 18th, 2012
9:05 am

Wren has missed judged not only JJ but the whole team..by doing nothing to improve this team you are now seeing the results of his action. He did KK the same as JJ but now he needs JJ. I hope JJ kick-a@@.

wayn-o

June 18th, 2012
9:14 am

That’s what he gets for having Boras as his agent. Expect the world but do nothing to earn it.

Jack Dennis TN

June 18th, 2012
9:17 am

The last thing the braves need is another tiddy-baby.

abby normal

June 18th, 2012
9:20 am

It would be just our luck for JJ to pitch well and get no run support.

Dawg Haus

June 18th, 2012
9:31 am

Best of luck in Beantown, JJ! Great to have you back!

Gene

June 18th, 2012
9:31 am

I am waiting for Wren to make a “bold move” and sign Brad Lidge as a big-name fix for the bullpen. There is a real problem of leadership on this team at all levels. They may hit bottom by next Monday.

Gene

June 18th, 2012
9:32 am

PS. Glad you’re back, Jeff. When will the Count return?

D-bo

June 18th, 2012
9:34 am

Just another situation handled poorly by the brass.
No regard for anyone established unless you’re derek Lowe or kenshIn kawakami.

urban redneck

June 18th, 2012
9:49 am

ugh. trade him.

maddog

June 18th, 2012
9:50 am

RedSox starting to get healthy. Couldn’t they wait for a series against the Padres?

DawgDad

June 18th, 2012
10:12 am

I tend to believe JJ just needed more time to get healthy and regain his command. We’ll see. Sure would be nice if rounds back into form.

VinceVanGo

June 18th, 2012
10:21 am

Yes the Braves need starting pitching but what good will it do if they don’t start hitting. I don’t blame the hitting instructors, more the hitters and specifically the manager with his batting orders. The old phrase “put people in a position to win” also applies to lineups. If the batters are in the wrong order it stifles the production. Chipper seems to think that his seniority earns him a 3 hole slot. But his injuries and recent performance don’t merit it. McCann should never hit before the 5th position since if he does get a hit and it isn’t a home run he clogs the bases. And Fredi needs to turn the guys loose. Hit & run, more steals(Bourne, Heyward, Prado), and please trade Fransisco and bring back Constanza. He opens up so many more options. Having good pitching is very important, but you could still lose a lot of 1-0, 2-0, and 3-1 games. Get some hitters, get creative on the bases, and tell Fredi to let his blood pressure rise and be seen every once in a while.

Supersize that order, mutt

June 18th, 2012
10:24 am

Dirty Dawg

June 18th, 2012
10:28 am

Nothing I’ve heard or read says that JJ has improved his velocity or gotten some Greg Maddux-type pitching smarts to make up for that lack of speed..so why should we expect him to be any different…hope so but don’t expect it.

Conspiracy Theory

June 18th, 2012
10:33 am

Wish we still had JJ Hoover instead of Juan Francisco. Bad Trade. I guess you never can have too much pitching…

Maybe we can package Francisco and maybe a couple of prospects for Dempster.

Joe Tess Fish House

June 18th, 2012
10:36 am

What ever hapend 2 that drunky Hansen? Is he still in rehab 4 drunks?

LOL at the Braves

June 18th, 2012
10:49 am

61 year Braves Fan

June 18th, 2012
10:50 am

I agree totally with VincentVanGo.

Rick

June 18th, 2012
10:52 am

Feed all these Coaches and lame bandwaggoners crow JJ. Show them what you got!

Younger Than That Now

June 18th, 2012
10:54 am

Good writing Schultz! I’m certainly pulling for JJ and I hope that he is able to turn this little time in the minors as a ‘learning experience’ and does well for the Braves and for himself. This isn’t something that needs to be blamed on JJ… I mean, it’s not like he’s had DUI’s and isn’t doing what’s required, physically, of a top shelf pitcher. He’s trying and giving it his all… that’s all you can ask. If he’s hurt, then he needs time to re-hab and then be re-evaluated. But hopefully he’s good to go and we’ll see the JJ of the first half of 2011, when he was as good as anybody in MLB, IMO.

Best wishes JJ… and GO BRAVES!

1995 was 17 years ago

June 18th, 2012
10:55 am

While I’m excited to see Jurrjens get another shot, I doubt this team can be rescued. When you have a lineup that relies heavily on a 40-year-old and a catcher, a horrible bench, subpar starting pitching and a shoddy bullpen, you’re headed for an also-ran finish.

If Jurrjens can miraculously come back strong and pitch at a level close to what he pitched at during 2009 and the first half of 2011, that would be a definite shot in the arm. But Beachy’s been pitching at that same level, and all he has is a 5-5 record to show for it.

Just too many holes for the Braves to contend this year, I’m afraid.

haha

June 18th, 2012
10:55 am

OK JJ straighten that lazy crooked hat and do something now!

MJM

June 18th, 2012
10:56 am

Only if he can hit.

Game Changer

June 18th, 2012
10:57 am

@Schultz

Rescue a career, you kidding me. Alot of teams want JJ and the Braves will not let him go. They trash him the claim he is great in trade talks. JJ wants out of Atlanta in a big way. Many players cannot stand the current Braves manager, most every pitcher. Having Brundage as the triple a reporter about the pitching is bad, he is no pitching coach. Alot of issues with the Braves exist.

How about ninth inning: 2 to 0 Baltimore, chipper leadoff with count 2 balls no srikes, weak ground ball to second, wtf, can our manager not control the players. you have to take the third pitch, bad bad bad. If a race from the batters box to first were held between McCann and Jones, not sure if either would make it.

How about writing an article about the following: McCann is not going hold up in Atlanta as a baseball player, already falling apart physically. Here is the article:

Braves seek trade with Tampa Bay Rays: McCann for two top minor leaguers.

McCann, DH in the Tampa Bay 5 spot, play catcher twice a week with choosen pitchers and would be great backup. Tampa Bay has struggled at catcher position for several years. McCann in air conditioned ball park and great manager. This is in the best interest of Atlanta and Tampa Bay.
Frank Wren is clueless:

Bob Davis

June 18th, 2012
10:59 am

I agree that GM Wren should’ve made some moves over the off-season for some more offense, but he didn’t. You really can’t fault the pitching or the defense. Hard to beat anyone when you can’t score runs.

Dnice

June 18th, 2012
11:00 am

If you thought Fredi had a clue then hopefully it was taken away when he pinch hit Francisco who at least has some power and batted Jack Wilson instead so basically he wasted a batter for a waste of roster space. Why not bat Mccann in the pitchers spot then pinch run for him if he gets walked? I only coach Little League and make better decisions, just ask my parents.

Buckeye

June 18th, 2012
11:06 am

We’re overdue for a dog article, are we not?

MD Braves fan

June 18th, 2012
11:06 am

You could bring Maddux, Smoltz and Glavine back and Frediot would screw it up. Making your own pitcher balk…wow. FIRE FREDI!!!

Dnice

June 18th, 2012
11:07 am

MD Braves fan… I was thinking the same thing about him making a pitcher balk. Now where they do that at LOL

te29wr

June 18th, 2012
11:09 am

Manager is BAD need someone with fire and not pinch hitting with Wilson 161 avg , Francisco has not had a hit since Moby Dick was a minnow, Hinski four hits in the last 55 at bats bring up some young guys it can’t be worse

MD Braves fan

June 18th, 2012
11:09 am

And then he blamed it on Delgado being young! lmao! This clown would be gone already in an objective media market.

Bill

June 18th, 2012
11:17 am

Jeff How about a poll on where to fire Fredi or keep him.

shadetree

June 18th, 2012
11:18 am

I must agree. I have seen Fredi do what I think is some wierd stuff, but that is why he gets the big bucks.

As reported in spring training I had the news of Hoss’s marital problems and also how Fredi was not letting Chipper get by with not participating in team workouts. Hoss has always been able to do his thing.

Fredi will and has alienated some players and it shows.

Also, why is it that players come here and do bad and then go to another team and lead the league in something. Every player we get goes on and does better somehwere else. The Melk Man, geez look at him. Why do they not come here and do the same thing. Attitude I think.

Can you imagine Kirk Gibson on this team.

I remember Bob Gibson went out to the mound to Bob Walk and told him that if there weren’t 7000 fans in the stands he would slap him upside his head. That’s what needs to happen now but Fredi can’t do it. How can you tell players to do something you yourself have never done.

I also think it would be a good idea to trade McCann

Just saying

Dnice

June 18th, 2012
11:19 am

Absolutely. The NY or Chi town media would be all over him shoot the Florida media sent him packing. I would rather have steaming Ozzie at least you know that he knows the game.

FirethemAll

June 18th, 2012
11:19 am

Does this organization have one competent manager????? It seems they’re all morons. My goodness!

The Bravenator

June 18th, 2012
11:21 am

Jurrgens is finished as a Brave. He’ll be around through July for a few spot starts which will take some pressure off the Braves starter situation and showcase him for the trade deadline next month. The Braves have no intention of dealing with agent Scott Boras who represents JJ. If JJ should have a couple of decent outings, Boras will talk him up as the second coming of Walter Johnson. He’s pretty much damaged goods and the Braves will be lucky to get a prospect for him. Too bad…another situation fouled up by poor management.

Justin

June 18th, 2012
11:22 am

Hope he pitches great but i doubt it when Triple AAA players hit .300 against you theres a good chance you want pitch to great against an American League Lineup. Im seing a line like 4.1 ip 9H 5ER 2BB 0 K

FirethemAll

June 18th, 2012
11:23 am

Sad thing is…there will not be a move made! Fucin maddening!

Pepe Frias played here.

June 18th, 2012
11:32 am

I went to the Gwinnett game yesterday and i swear Dave Brundage and Fredi Gonzalas are one and the same . He left Adam Russell in the game after he walked four straight batters. Geez, management in the whole organization needs to go. I can manage my daughters softball team better than that. And they are only 6!!

JoeFan

June 18th, 2012
11:36 am

JJ is just being showcased. Hopefully he will do well and the Braves can get a decent player for him. Don’t know who ultimately has the final say so on Wren and Fredi remaining with the Braves but whoever it is needs to send both packing. They are both responsible for this mess. Wren more so than Fredi since he hired him. So lets start with a new GM and let him decide who should be leading the Braves. By the way Chipper looks terrible at the plate. He should go on the DL or retire early instead of taking up a roster spot

congrats mello

June 18th, 2012
11:36 am

lets go Braves!
meanwhile, how ’bout that MELANIE OUDIN?
iAfter falling so far behind in rankings this young woman kept fighting and clawing her way back and now she brings the ENGLAND AEGON 2012 CHAMPIONSHIP back to America!

good job Mello.
looks like you’ve settled in and now know what it really takes.
we are 100% in your corner.

Mister Frisky

June 18th, 2012
11:38 am

JJ TO THE RESCUE?LMFAO!