Odds and ends: Heyward, Teheran, etc.
Before I get married this weekend and enjoy both a Hawaiian honeymoon and Steelers Super Bowl victory next week, I’m providing this entry full of some things I’ve heard or discussed over the past week.
Heyward update: There didn’t seem to be much reason for concern when Jason Heyward said Wednesday that he still doesn’t have full range of motion in the left thumb that he injured in May.
“I don’t have any pain in it, but I still don’t have the full range of motion in it,” Heyward said. “I still can’t bend it anywhere close to where it was before. I don’t know if I ever will be able to do that. But I know it’s not holding me back from hitting.”
If he were a professional thumb wrestler, there might be some concern about Heyward’s limited range of motion. But given that he’s still happy with the career choice he’s made at the ripe age of 21, it should simply be comforting to hear him say he’s able to swing the bat in a pain-free manner.
Teheran, a sleeper for fifth spot?: Two weeks ago, the Braves informed Julio Teheran that he was invited to attend his first big league camp this year. This wasn’t a surprise. Nor was it surprising to see the 20-year-old right-hander listed among MLB.com’s 10 best prospects.
Teheran is one of the finest pitching prospects to ever pass through the Braves organization and they certainly don’t have any plans to rush his development.
But based on what they’ve seen from him, there are some members of the Braves organization who believe Teheran will make it difficult for them to determine when or maybe even if they should send him to back to Minor League camp.
Given that Teheran has had one injury-free professional season, which consisted of just 142 innings, there is very little reason to believe the Braves would begin the season with him in the Majors. But the fact that they are at least anticipating that he will make them debate the possibility gives you a better idea about how special this kid could be.
Wishing the best for Pete: It was nice to catch up with Pete Van Wieren this week and even better to hear him say that doctors are optimistic as he nears what is scheduled to be his final round of chemotherapy treatment. His final treatment is scheduled for Feb. 7.
Van Wieren has been undergoing these treatments once every three weeks since learning in October that he would have to once again battle against cutaneous B-Cell lymphoma. He battled this same condition around this time last year.
It was discouraging to hear Van Wieren say that he won’t make it down for any portion of Spring Training this year. But it was encouraging to learn, the proud grandfather is planning to take the grandchildren to Disney during the early days of April.
The treatments have weakened him to some degree. But it was still great to hear the excitement in his voice when he spoke about being able to play poker and watch baseball again some time soon.
Wide-eyed Minor Leaguers: The Braves seemed quite pleased with how their first Rookie Development Program went last week. It was cool to see how the Minor Leaguers reacted while listening to the motivational speeches delivered by John Schuerholz and then Bobby Cox.
I just wish I would have been in the room when the young kids looked up and saw Hank Aaron just walking through the middle of the clubhouse. It was an unplanned part of the program. Aaron was simply making his exit after completing an early-morning workout.
It was nice to get to talk to some of these prospects and put a face to a name. Matt Lipka had a stronger frame than I envisioned when the Braves took him with their first selection in June. This probably had something to do with the tales about the success he enjoyed as an All-State wide receiver in Texas.
Lipka has spent the past couple of months working out a gym owned by former Olympic sprinter Michael Johnson. He has added some upper body mass and focused on maintaining the speed that proved so appealing to baseball scouts last year.
Out of all the players the Braves worked out at Turner Field before last year’s Draft, there was just one that proved to be faster than Lipka.
His name is Kyle Wren, the son of Braves general manager Frank Wren. Kyle is projected to serve as Georgia Tech’s starting centerfielder as a true freshman this year.
Catch you in a couple weeks.