Odds and ends from Day 4 at Braves camp
After Bobby Cox surprised his players by saying that he felt nervous while delivering this morning’s annual preseason speech, Jason Heyward lived up to expectations with an impressive power display during his first on-field batting practice session of the year.
Well I guess you could argue that assistant general manager Bruce Manno wasn’t exactly expecting Heyward to drill his car with one of the many titantic shots that soared over the right field wall.
But enough about what Heyward did against the batting practice pitches delivered by Terry Pendleton, who playfully threw behind the 20-year-old outfielder after nearly being hit with a liner that was torpedoed itself into the protective screen in front of the mound.
The day’s most significant news centered around the signing of Edward Salcedo, the highly-regarded, 18-year-old Dominican shortstop. At a cost of $1.6 million, the Braves believe that they secured one of the best available players in the international market.
This deal was completed with a handshake last week. But after the young shortstop’s agent then seemingly started soliciting other offers, Braves director of international scouting Johnny Almaraz went directly through Salcedo to get the deal completed.
Some Braves talent evaluators have compared the 6-foot-3, 190-pound Salcedo to Hanley Ramirez. While it remains to be seen whether the kid can live up to this lofty comparison, there’s certainly reason to believe that he would have equated to a top 10 draft selection this year.
Based on the way the Braves handled Yunel Escobar and many of their other young stars, I think it’s safe to assume that Salcedo will spend a majority of this season with Class A Rome.
Unless he utterly terrorizes the South Atlantic League, there’s little reason to believe that he would be rushed to Myrtle Beach this year.
Jurrjens update: Jair Jurrjens played catch from a distance of 60 feet today and felt better than he did while completing this same exercise on Sunday. If he feels good when he awakes on Wednesday, he’ll begin playing long toss and then possibly begin playing off the mound early next week. This still presents the possibility that he’d be ready for the start of the regular season.
Jurrjens is feeling a slight pinch in the front of his shoulder when he releases the baseball. But he has been encouraged that the discomfort level has steadily subsided over the last week.
Lighter Prado: With assistance from the P90X nutrition plan, Martin Prado lost 14 pounds during the offseason and reported to camp noticeably leaner than he was last year. This should certainly help increase his range at second base.
Prado, who spent the offseason with his girlfriend here in the Orlando area, is happy to currently have his mother in the United States. She will have to return to Venezuela next month, but will be permitted to return in June for an additional five months.
This is obviously encouraging news for Prado, who began experiencing exertional headaches in August, while dealing with the stress he felt when his mother had to return to Venezuela.
Diory injured: If you hadn’t already, you can erase Diory Hernandez from the list of candidates to fill one of the final roster spots. The infielder injured his left shoulder while sliding into a base while playing in the Dominican Winter League.
Hernandez said he will begin hitting off a tee again in about a month. But the club doesn’t believe he’ll be ready to resume playing for at least another 3-4 months.
Murph’s neighbor: When you look at the power numbers that Mitch Jones produced during his Minor League career, there’s reason to believe he would be physically imposing. But the 32-year-old outfielder is just your run-of-the-mill 6-foot, 215 pound player, who obviously finds a way to generate power with his swing.
Jones, who led the Minors with 35 homers last year, said that he has theorized his power is a product of the many hours he spent helping his dad screen print t-shirts in the family-owned screen printing shop.
“I grew up a long time in a screen printing shop, screen printing shirts,” Jones said. “So I don’t know, maybe my hands got stronger.”
Jones’ Orem, Utah home is located just a few blocks away from Dale Murphy’s residence. He said that he often runs into Murph at the local high school or Home Depot.
Murphy is expected to be in camp within the next couple of weeks. This year’s other special spring instructors will include Phil Niekro, Gene Garber and the always-popular Javy Lopez.