July 2011

Braves acquire Bourn

The Braves have acquired center fielder Michael Bourn from the Astros in exchange for Jordan Schafer and three Minor League pitchers –  left-hander Brett Oberholtzer and right-handersPaul Clemens and Juan Abreu.

Bourn will play center field and bat leadoff for the Braves for the remainder of the season.  He has hit .303 with a .363 on-base percentage and 39 stolen base attempts in 105 games for the Astros this year.

“Michael Bourn is a perfect fit for our club, which focuses on speed and defense to match up with our strong pitching,” Braves general manager Frank Wren said. “This trade gives us the first true leadoff hitter we’ve had in a number of years.”

Once Schafer and Nate McLouth went on the disabled list this past week, the Braves’ began searching for a center fielder.  The 28-year-old Bourn has one more arbitration-eligible season remaining and could make somewhere in the neighborhood of $7 million next year.

Schafer spent most of the past two months as Atlanta’s starting center fielder.  Once considered the organization’s top prospect, he has missed time the past three years due to suspension and a left wrist injury.

Clemens has established himself as a strong prospect while going 6-5 with a 3.73 ERA in 20 starts for Double-A Mississippi this year.  Oberholtzer gained attention during Spring Training and has posted  a 3.74 ERA in 21 starts for Mississippi.

Abreu is a strong-armed right-handed reliever who recorded 68 strikeouts in 48 innings for Triple-A Gwinnett this year.

Infante among Braves’ options before deadline

The Braves could add a center fielder in the form of B.J. Upton or Michael Bourn before today’s 4 p.m. ET Trade Deadline.  There is also a chance they could welcome Omar Infante back to their clubhouse and enhance their bullpen depth with the acquisition of a right-handed reliever.

Before placing their two centerfielders Nate McLouth and Jordan Schafer on the disabled list this week, the Braves were looking for a right-handed hitter who could play each of the outfield positions.  This was something the versatile Infante provided them before they traded him to the Marlins in exchange for played for Dan Uggla in November.

With the Marlins currently in Atlanta preparing to wrap up a three-game series, Infante could change clubhouses before the end of the day.  Multiple Major League sources said the Braves and Marlins have had multiple conversations regarding Infante.

The Braves have also had multiple conversations with the Rays over the past couple weeks about Upton, who like Bourn, could play center and serve as their leadoff hitter for the remainder of the season.

Hitting .304 with a .364 on-base percentage and 39 stolen bases, Bourn provides more certainty than Upton, who has hit .228 with a .310 on-base percentage, 16 homers and 23 stolen bases.

But the Braves would likely have to give up more to get Bourn than they would to add Upton.

Braves have widened their focus

Now that the Giants have Carlos Beltran and the Phillies have Hunter Pence how will the Braves answer?  While they might not make an acquisition that creates as much attention as Beltran and Pence, it seems quite certain they will add an outfielder before Sunday’s 4 p.m. ET Trade Deadline.

When this week began, it seemed more likely that the Braves would add a right-handed hitting corner outfielder.  Their focus has widened since they  put two centerfielders  — Jordan Schafer and Nate McLouth –  and All-Star catcher Brian McCann on the disabled list this week.

The Braves’ wish list now includes the Rays’ B.J. Upton, the A’s Coco Crisp and the Astros’ Michael Bourn.  Each could play center and bat leadoff.

While the Braves and Astros have briefly discussed Bourn, it doesn’t sound like those talks have progressed past the preliminary stage.  With Crisp, the Braves have some concerns about his ability to stay healthy.

The Braves have continued to show interest in Upton, but it does not seem they are willing to get him in exchange for any of their top four pitching prospects  –  Julio Teheran, Randall Delgado, Arodys Vizcaino and Mike Minor.

Because the Braves have a surplus of young pitching talent in their organization, fans and even some of their players (off the record) have questioned why they are not willing to deal Minor or some of their other pitching prospects.

The Braves showed some late interest in Pence but were never interested in him enough to use any of their pitching prospects to acquire him.    The Astros asked the Braves for two of their top pitching prospects in exchange for the outfielder.

The Braves were much more interested in Beltran than they were in Pence.  But they were not willing to part with their pitching prospects to simply have him in their outfield for two months.

Wren facing tough decisions

As the Trade Deadline draws closer, some sellers could start dropping their demands and some buyers could get antsy and end up paying more than they had desired when they began evaluating the trade market.

Knowing that it will be at least a few more weeks before Brian McCann returns and recognizing the fact that they don’t know how Chipper Jones’ legs will hold up the remainder of the season, the Braves have become a little more aggressive while pursuing the Astros’ Hunter Pence and White Sox outfielder Carlos Quentin.

UPDATED:  But a Major League source said late Friday afternoon that the Braves have never considered Pence to be a priority.  At the same time, the White Sox have never indicated they are definitely willing to trade Quentin.

It still seems like the Phillies are the front runners to land Pence.  But one National League scout not affiliated with any of the clubs involved in the Pence pursuit, said Friday morning he was getting the sense the Astros were asking too much.

The Braves have said all along that they were not interested in dealing any of their top pitching prospects  –  Julio Teheran, Randall Delgado, Arodys Vizcaino or Mike Minor.  To land either Pence or Quentin, it seems they would have to part with at least one of these pitchers and possibly another prospect.

While Pence could spark the lineup, he would also complicate the team’s financial situation.  The outfielder will earn approximately $11 million via arbitration next year.   With the need to find a shortstop next year  (no Tyler Pastornicky will not be ready for a full-time role), this could put the Braves in a bind.

Right now, Wren has to assume next year’s payroll will include the salaries owed to Derek Lowe ($15 million) and Chipper Jones ($13 million).

This seemingly makes Rays’ outfielder B.J. Upton a more attractive option.   The Braves would not have to give up nearly as much to get Upton and he will likely make something closer to $7 million as an arbitration-eligible player next year.

As previously mentioned, the Rays had a scout present for the entirety of this week’s series against the Pirates.

Instead of trading any of their top prospects, the Braves could also end up trading the Padres for Ryan Ludwick, who could likely benefit from moving away from PETCO Park.  The home/road splits are not drastically different.  But it should be remembered it’s been just one calendar year since he hit .281 with 11 homers and a .827 OPS in his first 77 games of 2010 with the Cardinals.

But if the Phillies answer the Giants’ acquisition of Carlos Beltran with the acquisition of Pence, can the Braves feel good if they simply add Ludwick to their lineup?

Braves narrowing focus as deadline nears

Approximately 72 hours before this year’s Trade Deadline arrives, the Braves are starting to put a closer focus on their desires to add a right-handed hitting outfielder and right-handed reliever.  Time is running out and options are too.

The Braves crossed two players off their wish list Wednesday when the Mets traded Carlos Beltran to the Giants and when Blue Jays’ right-handed reliever Jason Frasor ended up with the White Sox.

Speaking of the White Sox,  FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal tweeted this afternoon that the Braves are “hot” after Carlos Quentin.  Well we know the Braves have interest in Quentin before and we also know that the White Sox had a couple scouts in Atlanta during the first week of this month.

But with the White Sox just 3 1/2 games out in the American League Central (think NFC West), the White Sox still are in great position.  In addition, highly-regarded prospect Dayan Viciedo’s injured thumb seemingly casts greater doubt about whether the White Sox would be willing to move Quentin.

If the Braves are going to make a significant acquisition before Sunday’s 4 p.m. ET deadline, it will likely come in the form of  Rays’ outfielder B.J. Upton, who could spend the final two months of this season as Atlanta’s starting center fielder and leadoff hitter.   The Rays have had a scout in Atlanta throughout this week’s series against the Pirates.

The Braves will likely have to part ways with Mike Minor or another of their top pitching prospects to get Upton, who could make approximately $7 million during his final arbitration-eligible season next year.

Upton seemingly makes much more sense than the Astros’ Hunter Pence, who could make closer to $11 million via arbitration next year.

The Astros are looking to gain a significant return for Pence, who is their most marketable player (think Jeff Francoeur, if things had gone according to play in Atlanta).   A Major League source said he believes the outfielder  will end up with the Phillies this weekend or possibly during the offseason.

The Braves are also looking at players like Ryan Ludwick and Josh Willingham.   Because he is clearly the better and more versatile defender, Ludwick seems to be the better option.

If the Braves land Willingham or Ludwick, they will likely platoon with Jason Heyward in right field and spend some time in left field when Martin Prado is playing third base.

With the Braves planning to give third baseman Chipper Jones regular rest down the stretch, Prado could be spending a lot of time at third base.

 

 

Looking back on a long,crazy night

Where do you start about six hours after you’ve left the scene of a 19-inning game that lasted nearly seven hours and ended with one of the most unbelievable endings you could imagine.

By now most of you have had time to express disbelief or at least attempt to convince yourself that plate umpire Jerry Meals was correct when he ruled Julio Lugo safe to end the 4-3 win the Braves claimed over the Pirates early this morning.

Understandably, the Pirates have issued a formal complaint to Major League Baseball.   My wife, a Braves fan, also issued her complaint when she said she felt cheated to watch a game like that end in that manner.   That is seemingly a belief shared by many.

Click here to see multiple angles of Lugo’s slide and to hear the television and radio calls from both the Braves and Pirates announcers.

When I talked to Meals about the call last night, he was very professional and accountable.   In case you missed it, here is his explanation:

“I saw the tag, but he looked like he oléd him and I called him safe for that.  I looked at the replays and it appeared he might have got him on the shin area.  I’m guessing he might have got him, but when I was out there when it happened I didn’t see a tag.

“I just saw the glove sweep up. I didn’t see the glove hit his leg.”

After Pirates catcher Michael McKenry made his swipe tag I looked toward first thinking the Pirates might turn an inning-ending double play, without even knowing Scott Proctor had face-planted coming out of the box.  When I saw the Braves players burst out of the dugout in celebratory fashion,  it took me a second to figure out what was happening.

I guess you could say I was as shocked as I was a few weeks earlier when a judge in Orlando said, “Not guilty.”

We’ll remember last night’s game for a variety of oddities.  Dan Uggla’s batting average sat above .200 for about four hours and then dipped below it when he finished the game 2-for-8.   Uggla had more success at the plate than Martin Prado, who managed to go hitless in nine at-bats.  He would have been coming to the plate had the game not ended on Lugo’s slide.

Nobody expected to see three scoreless innings from Proctor.  Nor was there any reason to think he was capable of recording the game-winning RBI.   He entered the night with three career plate appearances and each occurred in 2007.

Still as crazy as last night was, the key development seemed to occur in the 10th inning when Brian McCann strained his left oblique muscle, an injury that will sideline him for 2-3 weeks.  Looks like Jordan Schafer is also going to the disabled list with a chip fracture in his left middle finger.

The Braves have not made an official announcement, but Triple-A Gwinnett’s J.C. Boscan and Wilkin Ramirez have been told they have been promoted to Atlanta.   (Updated:  The first version I messed up saying it was two catchers coming up because I at first thought I heard Wilkin Castillo was coming up.  Sorry for the mistake.  Caffeine will help tonight.)

The Braves are fortunate to have a backup like Ross around to handle the catching duties while McCann is sidelined.   Still it’s obvious there will be a hole in the lineup while the six-time All-Star catcher sits the next couple of weeks.

Obviously many have asked whether this alters the Braves’ approach before Sunday’s Trade Deadline.  Well it could certainly alter the discussions about B.J. Upton or any other player who could aid their lineup.  But I don’t think Frank Wren is going to cave and do something irrational.

Now the fact that it appears the Giants will land Carlos Beltran could prove even more influential to Wren.  With one less outfielder available and uncertainty surrounding Schafer’s finger, maybe it will be more appealing to acquire Upton with the hope a change of scenery will help him maximize his great potential.

Meals’ explanation of his game-ending safe call

Plate umpire Jerry Meals became the focus of the conclusion of the 4-3, 19-inning win the Braves claimed over the Pirates at Turner Field Tuesday night.   The game ended when he surprisingly called Julio Lugo safe after it appeared Pirates catcher Michael McKenry tagged him before he crossed the plate.

Meals provided an explanation of what he saw on the play, which began with Scott Proctor hitting a grounder to Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez whose throw to the plate easily beat Lugo.

Meals’ explanation:

“I saw the tag, but he looked like he oléd him and I called him safe for that.  I looked at the replays and it appeared he might have got him on the shin area.  I’m guessing he might have got him, but when I was out there when it happened I didn’t see a tag.

“I just saw the glove sweep up. I didn’t see the glove hit his leg.”

Braves still weighing their options

(This entry has been updated since being originally published around noon.  It was originally  written for our  MLB.com trade blog.)

As Braves fans debate whether it would be better to acquire B.J. Upton or Carlos Beltran, general manager Frank Wren and his staff find themselves debating just how much they should be willing to give up to satisfy their wishes to add a right-handed hitting outfielder and right-handed reliever before Sunday’s 4 p.m. ET Trade Deadline.

Like most buyers on this year’s market, the Braves currently believe sellers are asking too much for their goods.   As history has proven, the demands should lessen as the deadline approaches.

In other words, acquiring Beltran, Upton or any of the other players on their wish list would be prove to be more expensive today than it would at some point this weekend.

The Braves have the prospects to make a significant acquisition.  They have also made it known they would be reluctant to part ways with any of their top pitching prospects  –  Julio Teheran, Arodys Vizcaino, Randall Delgado and quite possibly Mike Minor.

Of course like sellers will alter their mindset as the deadline gets closers, buyers might too get a little antsy.  In other words, there is always a chance Braves general manager Frank Wren will opt to include one of these pitchers based on the confidence that he has plenty of other good young pitching in his organization.

With Tommy Hanson, Jair Jurrjens and Brandon Beachy, he already has three members of his Major League rotation who are 25-years-old  or younger.   Lesser-known prospects like Zeke Spruill and Brett Oberholtzer simply add to the organization’s pitching depth.

Still it will be hard for Wren to include one of his elite pitching prospects in exchange for Beltran, who will exit Atlanta when he becomes a free agent at the end of this season.

At the same time, the acquisition of Beltran would set the stage for him to play right field on an everyday basis and possibly make things uncomfortable for Jason Heyward, who still stands as one of the cornerstones of the club’s future.  This move would likely lead the Braves to put Heyward on the bench or in the Minors for a couple weeks.

With this being said, Heyward has shown great maturity while dealing with adversity on a consistent basis this year.   The 21-year-old outfielder has dealt with his struggles and negative press in a very professional manner.

But is it worth putting Heyward in this position for just two months of Beltran?  Or would it be better for the Braves to find somebody to platoon with Heyward in right field?

These are some scouts (and fans based on your comments) who believe the Braves would be better off acquiring Upton to serve as their starting centerfielder and leadoff hitter.   The Braves really never showed interest in having the Astros’ Michael Bourn fill this role.

Upton will not be eligible for free agency until the end of the 2012 season and will likely earn nearly $7 million via arbitration next year.  The 26-year-old outfielder possesses tremendous potential and would serve as an upgrade to Jordan Schafer.

While Upton might make sense for the rest of this season, there is reason to wonder if his salary would match the value he could bring next year.   Since starring in the 2008 postseason, he has hit .239 with 44 homers, a .318 on-base percentage and .403 slugging percentage.

While Beltran and Upton are the two most significant names linked to the Braves, there is also a chance they will simply add a right-handed bat to enhance their bench or possibly platoon in right field with Heyward.

As they continue to search for a right-handed reliever, the Braves plan to promote Vizcaino to Triple-A Gwinnett soon Tuesday night.  They want to see how the strong-armed 20-year-old hurler reacts to pitching on a regular basis as a reliever.  If he passes the tests, there is certainly a chance he could be promoted to the Majors for the season’s final month.

The Braves will also continue to evaluate the possibility of acquiring either Jon Rauch or Jason Frasor from the Blue Jays.   With Rauch and Frasor both in position to be Type B free agents, the Blue Jays are currently looking for a significant return in exchange for either of these relievers.

Minor might be too valuable to trade right now

It will be interesting to see what transpires before this year’s Trade Deadline arrives at 4 p.m. ET Sunday.   Forced to guess, I’d say there’s a good chance Braves general manager Frank Wren will pull the trigger on a deal.  But I’m certainly not convinced that Carlos Beltran or another big-name acquisition will be spending the final two months in Atlanta.

As last week progressed, it became apparent the Braves have no desire to trade Julio Teheran, Randall Delgado or Arodys Vizcaino.  As one National League scout said, “they still remember the (Mark) Teixeira trade.”

It also seems some members of the organization believe Mike Minor should be thrown in this same “untouchable” category.  With the organization’s abundance of young pitching talent, it might be easy for some to give up on Minor.  But it should be remembered, he is just two years removed from Vanderbilt and that he stands as the organization’s only Major League-ready left-handed starter.

There is certainly a time and place to debate about how important it truly is to have at least one left-handed starter in a rotation.  But right now it seems more important to evaluate what Minor has done since the Braves made him the seventh overall selection in the 2009 Draft and gave him a $2.42 million signing bonus.

Still struggling to find consistency with his secondary pitches, Minor has spent most of this season with Triple-A Gwinnett.   But during his most Major League start on June 21, he limited the Blue Jays to one run over seven innings and showed why many believe he could be a solid number three starter.

Given that Beltran is only going to be around for two months, it’s easy to see why the Braves would be reluctant to give the Mets a chance to benefit from Minor’s development over the next few seasons.

Pirates Fever comes to Atlanta: Whenever a Braves fan says “Where were you when Sid slid?”, I have to think back to that October night of my freshman year at the University of Dayton.   After Sid Bream slid across the plate with the winning run to end the 1992 National League Championship Series, I was among the Pirates fans living in Stuart Hall who were accused of creating a disturbance.

Whatever might have been said or thrown that evening is no longer important.  But it is funny to think about how rough it felt when they levied me with a $30 fine.

Nineteen years have passed since that 1992 NLCS ended with a very effective Tim Wakefield simply watching Doug Drabek and Stan Belinda blow a two-run ninth inning lead.  The Braves have become a model franchise and the Pirates have spent most of the past two decades standing as one of professional sports’ worst franchises.

But for the first time since Sid slid, the Pirates come to Atlanta this week for a meaningful series.  Despite losing three of their past four games, the Pirates entered Monday tied with the Cardinals and Brewers for first place in the National League Central standings.

These leaders in the NL Central standings rank third in the NL Wild Card standings, standing 5 1/2 games behind the front-running Braves.   The only team in front of these clubs is the D-backs, who have whittled their deficit to four games with the realization that they’ll spend the rest of the season without Stephen Drew.

The Braves haven’t played great ball since the All-Star break and they enter this series having lost four of their last six games.   They’ve spilt their first 10 games since the break and had to erase four-run deficits to record two of those victories.

Remember back before the break, when it seemed highly unlikely that the Braves would score four runs or allow four runs in a single game.

Well now that Dan Uggla has shown some encouraging signs of life and the offense is starting to take shape, the pitching staff needs to return to form.  Or maybe these pitchers simply needed to return to Atlanta, where they don’t have to deal with the difficulties presented by Coors Field and Great American Ball Park.

Odds and ends:   This week will provide a homecoming for fan favorite Matt Diaz, who has hit .273 with 11 doubles and no homers in 176 at-bats for the Pirates this year.  Recognized as a left-handed killer in Atlanta, he has hit .286 (26-for-91)  against left-handed pitchers and .259 (22-for-89) against right-handed pitchers this year.  When he signed with the Pirates in December, he talked about the difference manager Clint Hurdle could make in Pittsburgh.  Right now, it looks like he’s batting 1.000 with that prediction.

Weather permitting, Chipper Jones is expected to return to the Braves lineup tonight.  This means Martin Prado will return to left field and Nate McLouth will have to see what his role becomes.   Instead of revealing his plans when asked what he planned to do when this time arrived, manager Fredi Gonzalez remained silent knowing what this game does to plans.  Now with Jordan Schafer having missed four straight games with a sore left middle finger, there’s at least a chance McLouth will continue to see some time in center.

 

Follow me on Twitter @mlbbowman

 

 

 

 

 

Odds and ends from Denver

Attempting to match the emotional reaction to yesterday’s entries, we’ll begin this entry by examining why it is so important for the Braves to give Jordan Schafer a multi-year contract RIGHT NOW!!!.

Now that the blood is boiling for those of you who aren’t a part of TEAM SCHAFER, I guess I can greet you with a good morning from Denver, where Scott Proctor and Cory Gearrin have not surrendered a run in more than 12 hours.

While last night’s 12-3 loss was ugly in many ways, it seemed to at least strengthen some opinions about what the Braves should do between now and the trade deadline.

It still seems quite obvious that they would greatly benefit from the addition of a right-handed reliever.    Gearrin has struggled mightily against left-handed hitters and Proctor has simply struggled.  Adding at least another arm out there will lessen the strain placed on Jonny Venters and Eric O’Flaherty down the stretch.

During last night’s game the idea of trading the experienced Derek Lowe might have become a little less appealing as rookie right-hander Brandon Beachy experienced the roughest start of his young career.

Before evaluating these two trade angles, it must be noted that Beachy once again managed to impress with the way he handled last night’s outing.    After hanging a pair of sliders that led to Troy Tulowitzki’s three-run, first-inning homer and Carlos Gonzalez’s two-run, second-inning homer, Beachy refused to blame the thin Rocky Mountain air at Coors Field.

Instead he quickly pointed out that he had also struggled with his slider during his previous start on July 8 in Philadelphia.   When asked about the career-high five walks he issued,  Beachy said he was simply being stubborn with his attempts to paint the outside corner with fastballs against left-handed hitters.

Never did he say, “there were some borderline calls” or anything like that.  Instead the 24-year-old hurler once again proved accountable and in the process showed why he gained immediate respect when he was welcomed to the Braves clubhouse late last season.

Since Beachy wouldn’t say it, I’ll describe last night’s outing as simply a learning experience.   While allowing six earned runs in 4 2/3 innings, he recorded just one groundball out and three strikeouts  (two against Ubaldo Jimenez).   Still his line might not have been so ugly had he not become the latest pitcher to learn breaking balls often react a little different in the thin Rocky Mountain air.

Beachy should return to form over the course of his next few starts and continue serving as a valuable piece of the rotation.  But the fact that he and any of the Major League-ready prospects in the Minor League system are bound to endure growing pains should at least lessen the urge to trade Lowe.

Since becoming a starter in 2002, Lowe has gone 78-67 with a 4.02 ERA before the All-Star break and 65-37 with a 3.81 after the break.  Given that he’s now 38 years-old, maybe it’s more appropriate to show his splits since the start of 2008  –   29-30, 4.20 ERA before the break and 22-10, 3.67 ERA after the break.

Say what you want about the way Lowe has pitched this year.  You were probably saying some of the same negative things last year.  But in September and October, you came to appreciate what he provided on the mound.

Since we’re talking about splits, this seems to be a good time to show just how consistent Dan Uggla has been during his career.   And to think it was just a couple weeks ago when it seemed ridiculous to put Uggla and consistent in the same sentence.

During his career, Uggla has hit .255 with a .336 on-base percentage and .478 slugging percentage before the All-Star break.  After the break, he has hit .257 with a .346 on-base percentage and .474 slugging percentage.

With his first multi-homer performance of the year last night, Uggla provided another reason to believe he is escaping his early-season nightmare.   During his 11-game hitting streak, he has batted .341 with five homers, a .438 on-base percentage and .805 slugging percentage.    His batting average has improved from .173 to .192.

I would expect Fredi Gonzalez will put Jason Heyward back in the lineup for tonight’s game against the Rockies.   The 21-year-old right fielder removed himself from Monday’s lineup because of a sore left foot and was told he needed another day to rest Tuesday.

Obviously yesterday’s entry about Heyward’s struggles stirred a lot of emotions.   Some of you agreed, others described me as an idiot.

Some of you couldn’t understand why I wrote there’s a chance Heyward could be sent to the Minors or that he could lose his everyday role in right field.   These weren’t simply my opinions.  This information was gathered through conversations with scouts, players, associates and members of team management.

It’s very easy to understand why some of you have asked how can you say this about Heyward and not Schafer.  Both have struggled mightily and truth be told, I always felt Schafer needed to stay in the Minors for at least the first four months of this season.

That possibility was erased when Nate McLouth went on the disabled list in May and Schafer suddenly became the team’s starting centerfielder and leadoff hitter.   Even as Schafer has endured growing pains and shown the effects of the significant time he’s missed the past three years, the club has provided every reason to believe they feel his athleticism makes him the best fit for that leadoff spot.

So there has been no reason to even suggest Schafer could return to the Minors.

With Heyward, the Braves possess one of the game’s most physically-gifted young players.   It’s their responsibility to provide him whatever he needs to develop and maximize his skills.

Truth be told, the Braves probably weren’t wise to bring Heyward back to the Majors so soon after he rested his sore shoulder for nearly a month this year.   He probably should have spent more than just a couple days on a Minor League rehab assignment attempting to fix his swing and approach at the plate.

What’s done is done.  But if the Braves do eventually opt to send Heyward back to the Minors for a week or two, it shouldn’t simply be viewed as a demotion.  It should be viewed as a decision aimed toward the best interests of a 21-year-old kid with a world of talent.

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