The Grim Reaper destroys another vehicle
Welcome back to the world of ESPN where sports reign and vehicles become sitting ducks when Jason Heyward takes batting practice.
Once again proving that he presents a greater danger to automobiles than a Toyota manufacturer, Heyward returned to Champion Stadium this afternoon and destroyed the mirror on the passenger side of Braves media relations director Brad Hainje’s SUV.
“He’s like the grim reaper,” Hainje said. “You know he’s going to get you. You just don’t know when or how.”
During the early days of camp, Heyward destroyed the sunroof of assistant general manager Bruce Manno’s rental car.
As mentioned yesterday, Braves president John Schuerholz said the club likely won’t construct a net to protect the cars the the executives park just beyond the right field wall here at the Disney complex.
“We’re just all going to drive convertibles next year,” Schuerholz said with a smile.
McLouth update: When I arrived around 1:30 p.m. ET this afternoon, Nate McLouth was in the indoor batting cages working to battle out of his maddening slump. The 28-year-old center fielder has just one hit and 12 strikeouts in his first 31 at-bats this year.
“It looks like he’s pressing a little bit,” said Braves manager Bobby Cox, who opted to give McLouth a night off on Friday night.
While McLouth still has a little more than two weeks to get himself righted, he may not have enough time to convince the Braves that he is indeed the right man to serve as their leadoff hitter.
Melky Cabrera has been utilized in this role numerous times and he’s back at the top of the lineup for tonight’s game against the Tigers. The switch-hitting Cabrera found nearly equal success against right-handed (.277 BA and .332 OBP) and left-handed pitchers (.268 BA and .343 OBP last year.
With this in mind, the Braves could opt to put him in the leadoff spot on essentially an everyday basis. With this arrangement, he would spell the left-handed McLouth in center on days that the opponent is starting a southpaw. On this days the left field position would be manned by Matt Diaz, who obviously needs to be in the lineup whenever the opposing team is starting a left-hander.
When the opponent is starting a right-hander, Cabrera could play left field and allow open the center field position for McLouth, who hit .269 against right-handers and .230 against lefties last year.
Braves manager Bobby Cox hasn’t said that he plans to utilize this arrangement. But as McLouth continues to struggle, he at least has consider this to be one of his other options.
Since Troy Glaus signed with the Braves, Bobby Cox has never fully committed to saying that Glaus will definitely rest in the cleanup spot on an everyday basis. Instead, he has often said something like “he’ll be somewhere around there.”
With the Tigers starting Jeremy Bonderman tonight, Cox has his left-handed hitting catcher Brian McCann in the cleanup spot and Glaus hitting fifth
Glaus’ career numbers against left-handed pitchers include a .277 batting average, a .957 OPS and an average of one strikeout every 4.41 at-bats. Against right-handers, he has hit .248 with an .822 OPS and struck out once every 3.77 at-bats.
NOTES: The Braves still seem to be seriously thinking about having Jo-Jo Reyes begin the year in Atlanta’s bullpen. But even if this arrangement is made, once Scott Proctor is deemed ready, there’s a chance Reyes could be moved back to Gwinnett to serve as a starter…Jordan Schafer took batting practice on the field today and felt little discomfort in his surgically-repaired left hand. Schafer doesn’t believe he’ll be ready to be a part of Gwinnett’s lineup until the mid-to-latter part of April.
BRAVES LINEUP for Friday vs. Tigers