Updates on Chipper and Escobar
It’s hockey night in Pittsburgh and the fans are truly showing their colors. Actually, some are wearing the modern black Penguins jerseys and a handful of others are sporting the blue ones that the club wore during the pre-Mario Lemieux days.
Whatever the case, I’d have to say close to 50 percent of the people I saw walking the streets this afternoon were wearing Penguins jerseys. I didn’t see a Pirates jersey until Adam LaRoche and his buddies came out to take batting practice here at beautiful PNC Park.
Speaking of LaRoche, the former Braves first baseman has at least delayed his traditional slow start by recording 10 hits, including three homers in his first 34 at-bats this year. Considering that he owned a .181 career batting average in April entering this year, it’s safe to say that he’s enjoying this early production.
LaRoche’s buddy Chipper Jones is once again out of the lineup with a bruised left thumb. The Braves third baseman has been encouraged by the fact that the swelling has decreased and he’s hoping to return to action during Sunday afternoon’s series finale against the Buccos.
“The swelling is getting better,” Jones said. “But (the trainers) were rubbing it down today and it’s still extremely painful.”
Having already aggravated this injury multiple times by getting jammed with pitches, Jones recognizes the importance of resting the thumb as long as necessary. The bottom line is that he doesn’t want to deal with this throughout the season.
“If I came back too early and did it again, I’d have to miss another three to four days,” Jones said. “I just want to make sure we get it right.”
As for Yunel Escobar, he could be back to his jumping ways as early as Saturday. When Escobar strained his abdominal muscle while doing his traditional pre at-bat jumping routine in the on-deck circle Thursday, the Braves thought he might miss three to four games.
But Escobar took some swings in the indoor batting cage on Friday and didn’t experience any concerning discomfort.
Forget about the possibility of this episode leading Escobar to end his jumping days in the on-deck. The talented shortstop is as stubborn as they come.
When Jo-Jo Reyes takes the mound to face the Pirates on Saturday, you’ll likely see a pitcher that doesn’t resemble the one who went 0-7 with a 7.81 ERA in his final 13 appearances (12 starts) last year.
Reyes has grown comfortable with the fact that he doesn’t have to attempt to overpower every hitter. The more efficient 23-year-old southpaw impressed during Spring Training and tossed five solid innings before struggling through a rain-drenched sixth inning during his regular season debut for Triple-A Gwinnett last week.
Reversing back to the LaRoche-Jones connection, the two former Braves teammates have become heavily involved with the Buck Commander videos that are produced by noted hunter Willie Robertston.
With assistance from their good friend Luke Bryan, the guys developed this video that shows them enjoying some of their hunting experiences.