Outfield mix is looking a little different this weekend
Wilkin Ramirez wasn’t exactly terrorizing International League pitchers this year. But while utilizing him as their starting left fielder in Saturday afternoon’s game against the Rangers, the Braves still opted to put him in the fifth spot of their injury-depleted and slumbering lineup.
Hey nobody said it was easy to be hitting coach Larry Parrish these days. Before we go any further, has anybody issued that apology to Terry Pendleton yet.
OK, back to today’s news. The Braves opened a roster spot for Ramirez by optioning Randall Delgado back to Double-A Mississippi. Delgado impressed with the poise he showed while making his Major League debut last night. He probably threw one too many changeups to reigning American League MVP Josh Hamilton, who punished him with a decisive two-run fifth-inning homer.
But the kid left the mound in the fifth inning with no reason to feel ashamed. I certainly agree with those who say he was actually more impressive than Julio Teheran, who is considered one of the game’s top overall prospects.
Long before Teheran, the Braves’ top pitching prospect was a quiet kid named Matt Harrison, who will take the mound for the Rangers in this afternoon’s game at Turner Field. Since being packaged in the deal that brought Mark Teixeira to Atlanta, Harrison has added about 20 pounds and 5-6 mph on his fastball. He currently stands as a decent back-of-the-rotation option.
With the left-handed Harrison on the mound, the Braves didn’t want to put Eric Hinske in a lineup that still possessed four other left-handed hitters — Jordan Schafer, Jason Heyward, Brian McCann and Freddie Freeman.
But the fact that they promoted the right-handed Ramirez and immediately put him in the lineup seemed to indicate what they might do when Nate McLouth is activated from the disabled list tomorrow and begins serving as the left fielder until Martin Prado returns.
McLouth’s Minor League rehab stint will consist of two more at-bats with Gwinnett tonight.
When McLouth returns, the athletic Ramirez is expected to stick around to serve as a backup outfielder.
To create a roster space for McLouth, the Braves could designated Joe Mather for assignment. He is hitting .219 and has just one hit in his past 22 a-bats.
TIDBITS: Chipper Jones was feeling better today and the Braves are still hoping that he might return to the lineup within the next couple days. But it didn’t seem like he had improved enough to be available to pinch hit Saturday.
Brandon Beachy still seems to be the most likely option to start in place of the disabled Tommy Hanson Wednesday. “I wouldn’t put it out of the realm of possibility,” Gonzalez said when asked about this option.
The Braves still can’t give a definite return date for Martin Prado and they won’t be able to do so until the cut that led to his staph infection completely heals. It would not be surprising if he misses at least the remainder of this month.