McDowell taking superstitious approach with Jurrjens
Roger McDowell ended his playing career 14 years ago. But as he enters his fifth season as the Braves pitching coach, it’s apparent that the old prankster hasn’t lost his belief in the superstitious element of the game.
After revealing that Jair Jurrjens experienced another pain-free mound session on Friday morning, McDowell was asked whether the 24-year-old right-hander would now be cleared to begin throwing live batting practice.
McDowell limited his response to “we’ll see” and then smirked when asked if he was simply choosing not to put the cart before the horse.
Given the important role Jurrjens is expected to play during the upcoming season, it’s easy to understand why McDowell has chosen not to tempt the superstition gods.
But further encouraged by the fact that his shoulder provided no discomfort while he threw all of his pitches during Friday’s mound session, Jurrjens expressed nothing but confidence when asked if he would be ready for his scheduled regular season debut on April 7.
“I’m going to be ready,” Jurrjens said. “I’ll definitely be ready.”
When Jurrjens reported to camp three weeks ago, he was dealing with inflammation that formed around his shoulder after he made an awkward throw to second base. He has since showed steady progress and now finds himself solely bothered by some stiffness that is felt when he begins warming up.
Jurrjens said this stiffness usually subsides about five minutes into his warmup exercises. He has continued to utilize some of the stretching exercises that were prescribed after he received the results of an MRI exam that was performed in Atlanta on Feb. 16.
Heyward in the two hole: Jason Heyward will bat second again during this afternoon’s game against the Nationals. While this essentially means nothing, it provides proof that Bobby Cox is at least toying with the idea of having his 20-year-old right fielder sit in front of Chipper Jones in the lineup.
During his Minor League career, Heyward has shown the ability to consistently put the ball in play and compile high on-base percentages. Whether he is capable of establishing these trends at the Major League level remains to be seen.
But there’s certainly reason to understand why the Braves are looking at this as a possibility.
I’m not sure you’d necessarily want a pair of left-handers (Nate McLouth and Heyward) sitting in the first two spots against a left-handed starter. But they could always bat Yunel Escobar, Matt Diaz, Martin Prado or Melky Cabrera in the leadoff spot when pitted against a southpaw.
BRAVES LINEUP vs. Nats
Derek Lowe gets the start today and as mentioned before both Billy Wagner and Takashi Saito are scheduled to pitch. Even though he was pitched on Wednesday, Mike Minor is still listed among the available relievers.