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

Cabrera 8
Prado 4
Chipper 5
McCann 2
Glaus 3
Escobar 6
Heyward 9
Diaz 7
Kawakami 1      



Billreef, I’ll still give you credit for being a “glass half empty” guy, but you are now realizing it is a whole lot bigger glass this season.
Bobby Cox provides that insight you just can’t get from other insiders,
“‘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.”
Yaaaa thinnkkkkkk???????
Nate will be fine, and Nate will be good, but he is not going to be great, and he isn’t enough better than either Diaz or Melky to warrant a full time position. Nate against righties, and Diaz against lefties makes the combination into a .300, 20-20 plus guy. Melky may be better than we were willing to admit to in the aftermath of the Vazquez trade. That is also a good thing.

On a side note, I took a pilgrimage to the end of the stands in right field to see where the sunroof incident took place during the rain delay last Friday. That was a mighty poke indeed. There is a lot of parking lot before you get to those cars parked along the back wall.
Mark, if you would, post us a little picture of just how far that is from the fence. The amazing part is how long the Braves have been at Disney without this even being a concern. Even Freeman and Cody Johnson haven’t gotten it out there, at least not yet.
Good thing Heyward is just a line drive hitter or they’d really be in trouble.

Man this lineup looks like murderers row tonite. Look at this:
Cabrera, Me, CF .314
Prado, 2B .333
Jones, C, 3B .364
McCann, C .526
Glaus, 1B .458
Escobar, Y, SS .346
Heyward, RF .440
I mean give me a break. I am a pitcher looking at that and i wonder who do I pitch around. Everybody’s hitting over .300 three of em are hitting over .400 and Macaddoodle is hitting a cool . 526. Yikes, I am really starting to like what we are putting out there. Hey, am I a pessimist now???

Damn if that’s what Proctor looks like when he’s not ready then I can’t wait to see him when he is.

Great outing for Prado. There used to be a guy who posted here who was Kelly Johnson’s biggest fan, now he sponsors Martin’s stat page on Baseball Reference. Thanks for the tacit acknowledgement Peter.

Not sure why anyone thinks Nate will be fine or even good. Where is the justification? He has no track record with the Braves and you can pull out any number of excuses but he appears very overrated at this point. Cabrera is equal or better in every way except power. But at this point you have to wonder if McLouth will find that power again. You can ST means nothing but I think that is very naive unless you are talking about stars.

@ billreef: I was looking at the lineup and thinking that same thing. The only problem is that we’ll need every bit of that lineup to compensate for Kawakami’s obsession with giving up the gopher…

Another potentially good sign of things to come: McLouth excluded, every projected Opening Day starter has walked at least two more times than they have struckout.

Hey Mark, What do you think of batting Heyward leadoff? I think batting him seventh is a waste of his skill set—you don’t want a guy two spots in front of the pitcher who walks a lot. Obviously, Heyward’s long-term spot is third, but it’s not time to move Chipper from there yet. Given McLouth’s sstruggles it seems as if Heyward’s skills are the best suited for the leadoff spot out of all the players the Braves have. He’ll get on a bunch and, on a team with little speed, he’s one of the best base stealers.

JMO, But I don’t want Heyward batting in either the #1,#2, or #8 spot.

He’s a middle of the order run producing bat.

While I agree that his destination will eventuall be the Number 3 spot just not now.

Somewhere 5-6 or 7 is a good place to start.

A high OBP isn’t wasted in the seven slot, it helps turn the lineup over if nothing else.

Turning the lineup over is important, but it’s not as important as getting your best players the most at bats. If Heyward is one of the best hitters on the team his place in the order should reflect his ability. If you bat either McLouth or Cabrerra in the first spot you are making sure that a much weaker hitter hits more often. Given that this team has no leadoff hitter Heyward should be given a stab at it. Let’s get him to the plate as often as possible.

Not really sure what is going on with McClouth, but I am concerned. Last year, Bobby showed patience with several players – Johnson, Franceour, Norton and G Anderson and it cost them several games. I was so frustrated at the beginning of the year and finally, when the best players got the ABs, they came up a few games short. Very frustrating. If McClouth struggles, I hope Melky gets most of playing time. This could be the team that gets back to the playoffs if Chipper rebounds, and Heyward comes as advertised. Go Braves

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