Chipper remains hot and Heyward exits in pain-free fashion

Chipper Jones drilled his third homer of the exhibition season and Jason Heyward gave pretty good indication his back is sound when he turned on a Todd Coffey pitch and deposited in the Braves bullpen beyond the right field wall. 

With Freddie Freeman adding his first homer, Thursday was a good night for all of the Braves not named Scott Proctor, who is certainly no longer a favorite to win the final spot available in the bullpen. 

While allowing five earned runs and three hits in just two-thirds of an inning Thursday, the veteran right-handed reliever struggled to command his breaking ball and gave further reason to believe Cristhian Martinez will end up winning that last available spot in the bullpen. 

The Braves signed Proctor to a one-year, $750,000 contract in November.  But because he was  still arbitration-eligible when he signed, they could release him within the next few days and only pay a portion of his salary.

Before we look at post-game comments made by Jones and Heyward, I figure some of you might want to know why right-handed reliever Stephen Marek was among the eight players cut from Major League camp Thursday. 

Marek allowed one run and four hits in 6 1/3 innings this exhibition season.  He impressed the Braves coaches but also showed some room for improvement while issuing five walks. 

” During a Major League season, you will need pitching,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “You don’t end with the same 12 (pitchers) you leave Spring Training with.  For me, I’d feel comfortable with him pitching in a Major League game right now.  He’s a big piece of this organization and I think we’ll see him in the Major Leagues.” 

Heyward returned to the lineup Thursday after missing five games because of back discomfort.  A Braves doctor looked at an MRI from 2009 and informed the 21-year-old outfielder he needs to stretch more frequently to make up for the fact he has less cartilege between his discs than the normal human being. 

He also has more muscles than the average human being. But that doesn’t seem to be bothering him too much.

Anyhow, Heyward didn’t feel any discomfort during Thursday’s game and seemed to be at full strength when he smacked Coffey’s changeup into the Braves pen.

“I know I’m not as loose as I’m used to being,” said Heyward, who had missed the previous five games with back discomfort.  “But it didn’t bother me.  I know it’s still there.  I’m not 100 percent, but I’m heading in the right direction. ”

I know that we’ve all reported that Jones had his left ACL repaired last August.  But the way he’s been playing the past couple of weeks, I’m thinking he underwent some kind of surgical procedure that made him feel younger.  

Jones highlighted Thursday’s two-hit performance with his third homer of the exhibition season —  a fourth-inning leadoff shot to dead center.   He has nine hits, including four doubles and two homers, in his past 15 at-bats. 

But whether he was playing with a surgically-repaired knee or just one knee, we kind of figured Chipper could come down here and hit the likes of Yunesky Maya.

More impressive Thursday night was the mobility he showed with his defense.  He charged Mike Morse’s slow roller, barehanded it and made a strong throw to end the third inning. Later he showed quick reflexes when he pushed off his surgically-repaired left knee and snared Jesus Flores’ seventh-inning liner. 

“I’m not even thinking about the knee because it’s not an issue,” Jones said. “I have no pain in the knee whatsoever.  I would love to really open up and go from first to home on a double while I’m down here.  I feel like I turned a corner about 2 1/2 weeks ago with my knee.  I’m just really excited to get this season started, right now…right now.” 

   

19 Comments

Guess stepping in that hole while hunting wasn’t as bad as many have made it seem.
Also, nice to see Heyward putting in work yesterday. He put a nice easy swing on that HR. It’s gonna be fun seeing who can hit the ball farther between him and Freeman.

Well, it’s good to see Brooks Conrad in end of season form.

What happened Barry, Brooks sleep with your sister, or what?

Nah but he did score more runs for the Giants in the NLDS than their lineup did.

Funny, I ask Barry a question and his little brother Viva answers. Yeah, Brooksy did that along with having more Game winning hits off the bench than any player in Braves history(whoops). He’ll still make the team because baseball guys in our dugout know more about the game than you guys.

I was at the game on Thursday night and saw some very good things.

Chipper is moving better than he has in a couple years. The adjustments he has made hitting have his old bat speed back, or at least way more of it than he had the last two seasons.

Kawakami is just fine until he gets two strikes on a guy, then he seems to lose his way. He wasn’t nibbling as bad as he has in the past, but the tendency is certainly there to do so.

Jordan Schafer is ready defensively for sure, but he needs to play every day and hit above .200 somewhere above A ball for a while before he comes to Atlanta. I’d feel better if that HR he pulled out the other day was a fastball instead of a change. It has still been two years since he has turned on a good fastball at any level. For a guy who hit double digit HRs in the past, this shows a lingering issue with bat speed.

If any of you need a Scott Proctor card signed, you need to get down to Orlando in a hurry. That clock is ticking.

Because he can play OF, 2B, and pinch run, I’d like to find Matt Young a place on the roster. That kid is all heart.

Wilkin Ramirez = Cerano from Major League when it comes to curve balls.
Beware the early spring stats for fastball hitters. Mark has spent 3 weeks quoting Lowe and Huddy about when they start throwing the breaking balls. They aren’t the only vets that do it. If there isn’t a fall off in the last weeks of ST, or at Gwinnett early, get that kid to Atlanta. He will lead this team in stolen bases if he is up even half of the season.

Hey rother,who is better in CF Mclouth or M. young? I haven’t had a chance to watch Young play other than a highlight or two.

Bill, Bill, Bill. I was referring to his 2 for 3 day at the plate. Why must you always ASSume the negative.

Yeah Right, and i’ve got some florida real estate for sale.

Insert Viva superfluous comment here.

Meanwhile…your golden boy Frenchy is flourishing in his new surroundings in NoExpectation City, mashing a sub-.100 average.

I have seen Matt Young make more really good plays, and more mistakes than McLouth. I have also seen him make more good throws and more bad throws. Anyone else get a similar read on the situation?

Yes Dear Viva, and Esky is hitting .378 with a OPS of .912. That and a $5 bill will get you a Subway sand. It’s called Spring “Training” not Spring Playing. I love that you are still looking out for Jeffy though.

You know Rother maybe Matt caught a bug from Brooks. I’ve heard it’s catching(pun intended). DropSomeloccoccus.

When a ball is driven deep into the gap, Young sees the ball, McLouth sees the wall. If a guy is going to third, McLouth doesn’t throw it away, because he doesn’t throw it at all. He plays OF like Will Clark played 1B. He’s the Don Johnson character in Tin Cup.

Bill, the biggest question is how Conrad is handling being #7? The only No. 7 they like in Atlanta is aged in oak barrels. It may too much for him to overcome.

Well said Rother!

Even better if that #7 is associated with Gentleman Jack or Single Barrel.

You may be right that Legacy maybe more than Brooksie can handle?

WTF????

Exactly what I have been wondering for the last couple days.

Yeah what the heck is going on around here? Where did the last two weeks go?

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