Results tagged ‘ Adam LaRoche ’

LaRoche deal is completed

ATLANTA   –  The Braves have completed a deal that brings Adam LaRoche back to Atlanta to serve as their first baseman.   

Just before Friday afternoon’s Trade Deadline, the Red Sox agreed to send LaRoche to the Braves in exchange for Casey Kotchman.    

LaRoche, who was acquired by the Red Sox in July 22 trade with the Pirates, has hit .248 with 13 homers and a .446 slugging percentage this year.   He hit a career-high 32 homers with the Braves in 2006 and was traded to Pittsburgh during the following offseason in exchange for Mike Gonzalez.  

With LaRoche, the Braves receive the power that Kotchman wasn’t able to consistently provide until recently.     He’s hit eight homers since debuting with the Braves on July 30, 2008 and four of them have come this month.   

The Braves will receive cash considerations from the Red Sox.

Updates on Chipper and Escobar

It’s hockey night in Pittsburgh and the fans are truly showing their colors.  Actually, some are wearing the modern black Penguins jerseys and a handful of others are sporting the blue ones that the club wore during the pre-Mario Lemieux days.

Whatever the case, I’d have to say close to 50 percent of the people I saw walking the streets this afternoon were wearing Penguins jerseys.  I didn’t see a Pirates jersey until Adam LaRoche and his buddies came out to take batting practice here at beautiful PNC Park. 

Speaking of LaRoche, the former Braves first baseman has at least delayed his traditional slow start by recording 10 hits, including three homers in his first 34 at-bats this year.  Considering that he owned a .181 career batting average in April entering this year, it’s safe to say that he’s enjoying this early production.

LaRoche’s buddy Chipper Jones is once again out of the lineup with a bruised left thumb.  The Braves third baseman has been encouraged by the fact that the swelling has decreased and he’s hoping to return to action during Sunday afternoon’s series finale against the Buccos. 

“The swelling is getting better,” Jones said. “But (the trainers) were rubbing it down today and it’s still extremely painful.”  

Having already aggravated this injury multiple times by getting jammed with pitches, Jones recognizes the importance of resting the thumb as long as necessary.  The bottom line is that he doesn’t want to deal with this throughout the season.

“If I came back too early and did it again, I’d have to miss another three to four days,” Jones said. “I just want to make sure we get it right.”

As for Yunel Escobar, he could be back to his jumping ways as early as Saturday.  When Escobar strained his abdominal muscle while doing his traditional pre at-bat jumping routine in the on-deck circle Thursday, the Braves thought he might miss three to four games. 

But Escobar took some swings in the indoor batting cage on Friday and didn’t experience any concerning discomfort.

Forget about the possibility of this episode leading Escobar to end his jumping days in the on-deck.  The talented shortstop is as stubborn as they come.

When Jo-Jo Reyes takes the mound to face the Pirates on Saturday, you’ll likely see a pitcher that doesn’t resemble the one who went 0-7 with a 7.81 ERA in his final 13 appearances (12 starts) last year.

Reyes has grown comfortable with the fact that he doesn’t have to attempt to overpower every hitter.  The more efficient 23-year-old southpaw impressed during Spring Training and tossed five solid innings before struggling through a rain-drenched sixth inning during his regular season debut for Triple-A Gwinnett last week.
    
Reversing back to the LaRoche-Jones connection, the two former Braves teammates have become heavily involved with the Buck Commander videos that are produced by noted hunter Willie Robertston. 

With assistance from their good friend Luke Bryan, the guys developed this video that shows them enjoying some of their hunting experiences.  

Kawakami makes scoreless debut

When Adam LaRoche was traded to Pittsburgh, I said, “Please do whatever you can to keep my dad interested in the Pirates until at least the end of May.”

Two years later, Dad’s positive remarks about the Pirates still solely center around PNC Park and their Friday night fireworks displays. It’s been 17 years since the late John McSherry incorrectly ruled Sid Bream to be safe and still it’s downright painful to be a Pirates fan. 

(NOTE:  As somebody pointed out after this post was published, it was actually Randy Marsh who made the call. McSherry started behind the plate and then began feeling ill.  Personally, I didn’t begin feeling ill until Bonds unleashed that toss, which certainly didn’t appear to have  the assistance of any banned performance-enhancing aids.)

But the Buccos do have a great Spring Training park and it’s a beautiful Friday afternoon for baseball.  Kenshin Kawakami worked a perfect first inning and allowed just a bloop single off LaRoche’s back in his scoreless two-inning sting. 

Kawakami threw 18 of his 29 pitches for strikes and ended his afternoon with a strikeout of Jose Tabata.  While pitching in the United States for the first time, the Japanese hurler made a solid first impression.   

In a few innings we’ll gain a better understanding about why members of the Braves front office are so high on Kris Medlen, who actually looks younger than Brent Lillibridge,

Medlen has been described as a poor man’s Greg Madddux.   The 24-year-old right-hander stands 5-10, weighs approximately 185 pounds and has a baby face that might lead some cinema workers to card him if he attempted to purchase tickets to a rated-R movie. 

After moving into Double-A Mississippi’s starting rotation midway through the 2008 season, Medlen worked 92 1/3 innings, recorded 90 strikeouts and issued 21 walks.  In the 25 innings he worked during the Arizona Fall League, he registered 25 strikeouts, issued one walk and limited opponents to a .203 batting average. 

“If he was 6-foot tall, you’d be hearing a lot more about this guy,” one National League scout said.

When asked this morning about who he is considering to use as his leadoff hitter, Braves manager Bobby Cox mentioned Josh Anderson, Yunel Escobar and Kelly Johnson.  It still appears Anderson is the favorite. 

But the fact that Anderson has recorded a .340 on-base percentage during his Minor League career provides some concern.  He doesn’t possess the same plate discipline as Gregor Blanco and there’s reason to wonder what his OBP would be over the course of an entire big league season.

Some of you have said you would have the perfect leadoff hitter if you meshed the best traits presented by Anderson and Blanco.  Over the past few days, I’ve heard some of the Braves coaches (not Cox) say the same thing.

- Mark Bowman   

No need to wait for pitchers and catchers

Before beginning to discuss the Braves, I want to thank Delta for safely bringing me to Florida.  Of course in the future, I’d appreciate it if they’d place me and my luggage on the same plane.

But with this being said, waiting an additional three hours for a piece of luggage didn’t bother me as much as the AirTran baggage police that used rulers and the Pythagorean theorem to determine I wouldn’t actually realize the savings I’d anticipated when I chose to use their airline for my holiday season travel.

Two paragraphs into a blog and I’ve already attacked Atlanta’s two major airlines. Pitchers and catchers don’t report until Saturday and as a baseball writer I’d have to say my “negative voice” is already in midseason form.

Actually my attitude right now is anything but negative. I’m heading to the stadium tomorrow morning to see some of the camp’s early arrivals and in some ways this feels like the night before the first day of school.

Mike Gonzalez, Blaine Boyer and Kenshin Kawakami are among the pitchers who have been in town most of this week. 

Speaking of Kawakami, the throng of Japanese media members who will follow him throughout Spring Training have spent the past two days attempting to get glimpses of him through the left field fence.  The Braves decided not to open the stadium or their clubhouse to the media until Friday.

Chipper Jones, Jeff Francoeur and Brian McCann are among the offensive players who arrived in camp earlier this week.  They’ve been swinging bats in the morning and golf clubs in the afternoon. 

Thursday’s round was shared with former Brave Adam LaRoche, who claimed bragging rights with an impressive 18th hole birdie.  After hitting his drive into a fairway bunker, LaRoche tamed the par-5 finishing hole by drilling a 260-yard shot to within 30 feet of the pin. 

While his former Braves teammates might not have enjoyed watching ever-cool Roachy prove clutch, Pirates fans are probably just surprised to learn that he can in fact make solid contact before June’s arrival. 

– Mark Bowman

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