Waiting on updates from McCann and Glavine
Regardless of how Jair Jurrjens fares against Albert Pujols and the Cardinals, this should be an interesting day for the Braves. We should learn more about Brian McCann’s condition and Tom Glavine may provide some information about his future.
McCann was scheduled to visit Dr. Alan Kozarsky this morning to gain more clarity about why he’s been experiencing blurred vision in his left eye since the season started. Hopefully, the remedy will prove to be as simple as once again undergoing Lasik surgery.
It’s understandable that his vision could have changed since he initially underwent this procedure at the age of 23 at the end of the 2007 season. But while admitting I can’t spell ophthamology without Google’s assistance, I still have to wonder what has caused the dry sensation he’s complained about.
While McCann is in the early stages of a career that could one day be preceded by the words “Hall of Fame”, Glavine is simply hoping for the opportunity to enhance the numbers that will be linked to him when he’s immortalized in Cooperstown.
Tomorrow will mark the two-week mark since Glavine asked for two more weeks to evaluate the status of of his troublesome left shoulder. If he hasn’t realized some improvement this week, he’s not interested in waiting around another couple of weeks before resuming preparations. This would essentially take him back to the point he was when he arrived at Spring Training in early March and set up the likeliehood that he wouldn’t be ready to make his first start until some time in June.
Thus within the next two days, we can expect to hear him say that he’s going to begin another Minor League rehab within the next week or that he’s ready to put an end to his storied career that has included 305 wins.
Even before Glavine found some success during Spring Training, there was reason to believe there should be fewer concerns about him than Kenshin Kawakami. This was based solely on the fact that he’s spent the past 20-plus years learning exactly what it takes to retire Major League hitters.
The 7.06 ERA that Kawakami has notched in four starts isn’t nearly as concerning as the fact that he’s allowed at least one homer during each of his outings. This development hasn’t exactly been surprising. During the early days of camp, it was apparent that he has a tendency to live up in the zone with far too many pitches.
That’s a recipe for disaster while facing hitters that physically stronger than the ones that served as the opposition during his successful days in Japan.
With this being said, Kawakami has the potential to be a successful fourth or fifth starter in the Majors. The first homer he surrendered to Jay Bruce on Sunday came courtesy of a mistake he made in a situation when he should have issued a walk. The opposite-field shot snuck inside the left field foul pole.
From there it seemed like Kawakami allowed his emotions to get the best of him. He could have easily escaped the fifth inning unscathed. But as the adversity built with an intereference call on a potential double-play grounder and an infield single, he began to throw more high strikes, much to the delight of Joey Votto and Bruce, who has now hit .609 with four homers in six career games against the Braves.
Still regardless of what occurs with Glavine or Kawakami during the next few weeks and months, the Braves rotation is shaping up nicely for the final months of the season.
While regaining his aggressive approach during his past two outings, Jurrjens has enhanced the strength of a rotation that has been solidly anchored by Derek Lowe and Javier Vazquez. And of course, it won’t be long before we start to see Bobby Cox sending Tommy Hanson to the mound every five days.
Through his first four starts for Triple-A Gwinnett, Hanson is 0-3 with a 2.18 ERA. He has allowed one earned run or fewer in three of those outings and opponents are hitting just .205 against him.
It was encouraging to see Hanson complete six innings with 95 pitches against Charlotte on Friday night. During his two previous outings, he had reached the 95-pitch mark before completing five innings and was removed to preserve the arm strength that could prove to be so benefiical in Atlanta during the season’s final months.
Kelly’s inconsistencies: During the first eight games of the season, Kelly Johnson hit .333 with a .412 on-base percentage. But in the past 10 games, the current leadoff hitter has batted .111 with a .220 on-base percentage.
This better explains why the Braves have scored two runs or fewer in six of their past 10 games. It hasn’t helped that Chipper Jones missed three of those games or that McCann’s bat has essentially been absent since the end of the season’s four game.
But Johnson’s inability to serve as a catalyst in the leadoff spot during the past 10 games, has certainly played a factor.
With McCann absent, Johnson and Yunel Escobar have to find a way to consistently provide Jones with run-producing opportunities. Casey Kotchman has spent the past three games in the cleanup spot and he’s still on pace to go homerless this year.
During the just-completed nine-game road trip, the Braves received a .135 (5-for-37) batting average, .220 on-base percentage and .162 slugging percentage from the batters hitting in the leadoff spot. Those players batting in the ninth spot of the order hit .167 with a .333 OBP and .208 SLG.