Going to continue doubting Kawakami
When I got downstairs after last night’s game, one of the female Japanese reporters looked at me with one of those sarcastic smiles. Confident that I didn’t have a “kick me” poster sitting on my back, I simply responded with a “yeah, yeah, yeah.”
Seeing no reason to end a good thing, I don’t see any reason for me to allow one of the guttiest and impressive pitching performances provided by a Braves pitcher this year to stop me from casting doubt in Kenshin Kawakami’s direction.
I mean it’s not like that Dodgers lineup that he dominated for seven innings on Saturday night even leads the Los Angeles area in batting average. Last time I checked they rank second in the Majors in that category behind the mighty Angels.
Nor is it like he’s even been able to match the 3.38 ERA that the heralded Jair Jurrjens has posted since the start of May. But I guess I will at least concede that the 3.46 ERA that Kawakami has posted during this span is at least better than the 4.42 ERA that Derek Lowe has compiled.
And seriously isn’t it still easier to put more faith in the surgically-repaired right elbow of Tim Hudson than it is that fatigued one that allowed Kawakami to end his 125-pitch effort with consecutive strikeouts with the bases loaded last night?
While I’ll attempt to continue to help Kawakami by continuing to doubt him, I’m going to have to end this sarcastic rant to provide you some news.
Hudson will throw a bullpen session on Monday and if all goes well, he’ll resume his Minor League rehab assignment by starting for Triple-A Gwinnett on Thursday night.
As things currently stand, I would have to think Hudson likely won’t return to the Major League roster until it expands in September. At that time, the Braves will have to decide whether there’s a logical place for him in there rotation.
Before Saturday night, the logical assumption was that Hudson would simply replace Kawakami. But as long as the Japanese hurler is able to overcome his troublesome right shoulder every five days, can you really take him out of the rotation and replace him with somebody who hasn’t faced Major Leaguers for more than a year.
The Braves will say, “these things always work themselves out” and they often do. But for now, you have to at least wonder if the best course of action is to get Hudson stretched out to serve as a starter and then allow him to fortify the bullpen if there isn’t a logical spot to place him in the rotation.
McLouth sits during finale: While chasing down a seemingly uncatchable ball in right-centerfield during Saturday’s 10th inning, Nate McLouth tweaked his right hamstring. Thus Ryan Church made his second straight start in center field during Sunday’s series finale at Dodger Stadium.
McLouth and Chipper Jones (strained left oblique) will both be evaluated when the Braves resume play at Turner Field on Tuesday.
Infante could return Tuesday: Braves manager Bobby Cox indicated that Omar Infante could be activated from the disabled list on Tuesday. Infante, who has been out since May 20 with a broken left hand, has spent the past week playing for Class A Rome.
Happy Birthday Heyward: Early indications show that Jason Heyward isn’t nearly as good as he was when he was a teenager. As I write this sentence, he’s gone hitless in his first four at-bats for Double-A Mississippi. This obviously isn’t the way the top prospect envisioned celebrating his 20th birthday.
In the 30 games he’d played for Mississippi entering Sunday, Heyward had hit .422 with five homers, a .504 on-base percentage and a .725 slugging percentage.
When told of these numbers, Braves hitting coach Terry Pendleton said, “Is that all?”
Braves general manager Frank Wren spent the past few days watching Heyward and likely gaining a better sense about when it might be best to promote highly-regarded prospect to Gwinnett.