March 2009

Glavine encouraged after live BP session

Before leaving the stadium on this afternoon, Tom Glavine turned to Matt Diaz and said, “If you go deep today, you owe me.”

About an hour earlier, Glavine had thrown approximately 20 pitches during a live batting practice session against Diaz, Jason Heyward and Brandon Hicks.  While still feeling some crankiness in his left shoulder, the 42-year-old southpaw was encouraged with his location and the consistency of the movement of his changeup and curve.

“He told us what was coming and still all of us rolled over two or three (of his pitches),” Diaz said. “He’s just got that location and that movement that’s vintage Glavine.  Obviously he wasn’t rearing back.  It’s just fun to see him back out on the mound again.”

Glavine will likely throw another live BP session on Sunday.  He’s still hoping to make his Grapefruit League season debut late next week.
 
Anderson set for debut:  Garret Anderson will make his Braves debut against Venezuela this afternoon.  Freddie Freeman is hitting cleanup and as expected Jeff Francoeur will serve as the DH.  Francoeur plans to play the entire game and compile at least four at-bats.

Derek Lowe will be making his second start of the exhibition season this afternoon.

Needing arms:  Because they want to protect some of their arms for the start of the World Baseball Classic, Venezuela will use Braves Minor League pitchers Brad Nelson and Kevin Gunderson during portions of  today’s game.

Blanco absent from lineup: Braves outfielder Gregor Blanco is hoping to get some playing time with Venezuela over the next few weeks.  But he wasn’t part of Thursday’s lineup.  Venezuela’s starting outfielders on Thursday were Endy Chavez, Bobby Abreu and Carlos Guillen.  Magglio Ordonez served as the designated hitter.

Odds and ends:  Jordan Schafer has been out since spraining the A/C joint in his left shoulder while diving for a ball in Dunedin on Saturday.  Braves manager Bobby Cox said the outfielder will likely return to action in three-to-five days…Right-handed pitcher Charlie Morton is still waiting for the Braves to clear him to start pitching again.  He strained his left oblique muscle nearly two weeks ago.. Braves president John Schuerholz confirmed that he’s not interested in the Nationals’ vacant GM position. .

Today’s lineup:

Josh Anderson CF
Omar Infante SS
Garret Anderson LF
Freddie Freeman 1B
Jeff Francoeur DH
Brandon Jones RF
Martin Prado 2B
David Ross C
Diory Hernandez 3B 

Francoeur set to face Yankees and Tiger

With the sun shining above and the Yankees in town, we have a near-perfect setting for Jeff Francoeur to begin what many would consider a near-perfect athletic experience. 

After collecting a few at-bats against the WBC-depleted Yankees, Francoeur will grab his clubs to join Tiger Woods and John Smoltz for a round of golf this afternoon.  With the Red Sox having the day off, Smoltz has driven to the Orlando area to enjoy this annual round with two of his closest friends.

When Kenshin Kawakami takes the mound against the Yanks today, he won’t have to deal with the likes of A-Rod, Jeter and Posada, who are all eithter preparing for the WBC or visiting a hip specialist. Johnny Damon and Xavier Nady are the only regulars in the lineup for the Bronx Bombers, who will utilize Juan Miranda as their cleanup hitter. 

Glavine arrives:  Tom Glavine arrived in Braves camp this morning and revealed that he’s aiming to make his first appearance in a game late next week.  The 300-game winner has recently experienced some cranky discomfort with his shoulder.  But he says the discomfort isn’t anything different than what he’s often had to deal with during Spring Training. 

“I’ve had a little bit of crankiness now that I’ve thrown batting practice and thrown a little harder.  There ‘s a little soreness with my shoulder. But I’m not surprised. I knew it was going to happen sooner or later.  It’s happened every year for the last 15 years.  But it’s more manageable and that’s what we were kind of hoping for.” 

Glavine, who hasn’t had any problems with his surgically-repaired left elbow, doesn’t seem to concerned.  He said the shoulder discomfort he’s feeling this year doesn’t compare to the discomfort he was feeling at this time last year. 

The fact that Glavine is scheduled to make just two starts in April (18th and 29th) could prove to be beneficial.  After pitching in the frigid temperatures at Coors Field in early April last year, he started to experience increased discomfort in his elbow and shoulder.

Impressed by Hanson:  Braves announcer Don Sutton was certainly impressed after getting the chance to watch Tommy Hanson face Panama yesterday.  The Hall of Fame hurler was most intrigued by the 22-year-old  top prospect’s advanced maturity.

“When you look at a talent like him, after you talk to him for five minutes, you can throw his birth certificate out the window,” Sutton said. “He has the four pitches.  He’s a quick learner, makes great adjustments.  I just wish for him good health.  I think he has a chance to be a superstar.

Thursday vs. Venezuela:  Garret Anderson is expected to make his Braves debut when Derek Lowe takes the mound to face Gregor Blanco and Venezuela’s WBC team at Disney tomorrow afternoon.  First pitch is set for 2:05 p.m. ET.  

Today’s Lineup:
Josh Anderson CF
Yunel Escobar SS
Kelly Johnson 2B
Casey Kotchman 1B
Jeff Francoeur RF
Jason Heyward LF
Omar Infante 3B
David Ross C
Kenshin Kawakami P

 

 
 

Hanson ready to face Panama

During his 1985 rookie season, Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell learned that you had to have thick skin and a good personality to co-exist with the personalities possessed by the likes of Keith Hernandez, Wally Backman, Dwight Gooden, Darryl Strawberry and Howard Johnson.

That was the year that Gooden went 24-4 and the Mets finished three games behind the Cardinals in the National League East race.

As McDowell remembers, at the conclusion of that season, Hernandez hollered at Gooden and said, “Hey Doc, if you hadn’t lost those four games we would have won the division.”

Gooden’s name came up this morning, because I wanted to get a sense about whether you can get an early feel about whether a top prospect is going to truly be special.  In another words, I was chasing another Tommy Hanson angle.

Nobody is saying that Hanson will duplicate the early dominance of Gooden, who went 58-19 with a 2.28 ERA and 744 strikeouts in the  744 2/3 innings he completed during his first three big league seasons.
 
But the more you hear about Hanson, the more you want to see and hear more about him.

“I just want to buy stock in Tommy Hanson,” said 300-game winner Don Sutton, who arrived in Braves camp on Tuesday morning to prepare for the games he’ll broadcast with his new radio parter, Jim Powell, this weekend.

Sutton, who has rejoined the Braves broadcast team after spending the past two years with the Nationals, will get a chance to watch Hanson pitch against Panama this afternoon.  Maybe this time around, Carlos Lee will actually recognize that this isn’t just some run-of-the-mill prospect.  

After being frozen by a couple of breaking balls that Hanson threw in his Grapefruit League debut last week, the Astros left fielder acted like he was unimpressed by essentially limiting his comments to, “He throws hard.”

Based on the fact that Lee had just looked at a called third-strike slider, maybe he didn’t actually get a good look at the right-hander, who certainly has more than simply a fastball that has registered 99 mph.

Hanson made another good impression on the Braves coaching staff yesterday, when he showed up to throw and work out before the inter-squad game. His decision to come to the park on an off-day further proved his early fame hasn’t led to him gaining an early sense of entitlement.

Acosta set to face his country:  Manny Acosta decided last week that he won’t participate in the World Baseball Classic.  So instead of pitching for Panama on Tuesday, the right-handed reliever will be pitching against his native country’s team.  He is scheduled to throw one inning.

Walking wounded:  Jordan Schafer (shoulder), Josh Anderson (tailbone), Casey Kotchman (finger and quad) and Freddie Freeman (quad) are all nursing minor injuries that might keep them out of the lineup for another day or two.  But each of them participated in Tuesday morning’s workout. 

Prepared to play: Garret Anderson thinks he might be ready to make his Braves debut on Thursday against Venezuela.  The veteran outfielder, who signed with the Braves last week, has told Bobby Cox that he needs approximately 30 at-bats to be ready for the regular season.

Odds and ends:  Tom Glavine is expected to arrive in Braves camp on Wednesday…Peter Moylan said that he hasn’t felt any discomfort since throwing an inning against the Phillies on Sunday.  It was his first appearance since undergoing Tommy John surgery on May 8.

Today’s Lineup:
Yunel Escobar SS
Omar Infante CF
Kelly Johnson 2B
Greg Norton 1B
Jeff Francoeur RF
Matt Diaz LF
Brandon Jones DH
Dave Ross C
Martin Prado 2B

- Mark Bowman  

  

Cox places Heyward and Freeman in Sunday's lineup

After Sunday afternoon games at Turner Field, the Braves allow children to run the bases.  When it comes to Sunday afternoon Spring Training home games, they actually let the kids play. 

With the defending world champion Phillies in town today, Braves manager Bobby Cox has constructed a lineup that includes both first baseman Freddie Freeman and outfielder Jason Heyward. These 19-year-old phenoms were born three years after Phillies left-hander Jamie Moyer made his Major League debut. 

While Moyer didn’t make the trek to Disney, the Phillies did bring former Brave Marcus Giles, who seems to have an outside shot to begin the season in the Majors.  I’m not sure the same can be said for Andruw Jones, who has struck out during eight of the first nine at-bats he’s had with with the Rangers this Spring. 

The funniest line I’ve heard about Andruw came yesterday when a fellow scribe said, “I think he’ll stay in Rangers camp until at least March, but that’s only because this isn’t a leap year.” 

March has arrived and Peter Moylan is ready to start showing why he believes he might be ready to be part of the Opening Day roster.  Moylan, who is just 10 months removed from Tommy John surgery, is scheduled to pitch an inning against the Phillies today. 

They’ve removed the tarp from the field and according to the radar, it looks like we might be able to enjoy an rain-free game today.  I’m sorry to hear that the weather gods aren’t being as kind to you in Atlanta today. 

My girlfriend just sent me a text that read, “It’s snowing like crazy here.”  I really don’t know what the big deal is.  I think all of us knew there we’d probably see a March snowfall in Atlanta before Andruw actually did something more surprising like put two balls in play during the same Cactus League game.

- Mark Bowman    

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