Results tagged ‘ Blaine Boyer ’

Schafer and fans need to show patience

After Saturday’s loss to the Pirates, Chipper Jones echoed the popular sentiment by saying that he was concerned about the fact that Jordan Schafer was striking out too often.  But as the same time, he said he was confident the 22-year-old center fielder would soon cut down on his swing and utilize his speed to end his mini-slump.

“He’s smart,” Jones said. “He works hard and he wants to get better. Guys like that make the adjustment eventually.” 

With his three-hit performance on Sunday, Schafer halted his forgettable five-game slump and followed Jones’ suggested blueprint.   After notching a second-inning single, he produced a fourth-inning bunt single. 

Then with Pirates third baseman Andy LaRoche standing on the edge of the infield grass to protect against another bunt, Scafer lined another single off of a diving LaRoche’s glove.

Suddenly Schafer could smile again and forget about the fact that he’d recorded one hit and struck out 13 times in the 21 at-bats he’d recorded during his previous five games. 

“You don’t want to get to the point where you start doubting yourself,” Schafer said. “I know that I can hit.  I just need to start making adjustments a lot faster than I did. I know that I can compete here.” 

As we all started to wonder whether the Braves had made the right decision by bypassing the option to provide Schafer more Minor League seasoning, we were showing the same lack of patience that factored heavily in the development of this short skid.

Having hit two homers in his first three Major League games, Schafer has been going to the plate with the same overanxious excitement that has caused him to be too overaggressive in his pursuit of multiple fly balls over the past couple of weeks.

There have been a couple of near-collisions when he’s ventured into the left and right center field gaps.  Plus his insistence to race all the way to the wall in pursuit of balls that are going to riccochet back into the outfield grass  has been somewhat maddening.  But this really only proved costly on Friday night, when he allowed Brandon Moss to turn a double into a triple and score the only run charged to Jair Jurrjens in 6 2/3 innings.  

The man who has taught me more than anybody about player development has always said “trust your instincts” and “the player will let you know when he’s ready.”

While watching Schafer for six weeks during Spring Training, my instincts told me that he was ready for the Majors.  At the same time,  I was mindful of the fact that you have to guard against being overly impressed by results produced by prospects in the Grapefruit or Cactus Leagues. 

But the instinctive reason for believing Schafer was ready extended far beyond his statistics and five-tool talents.   There’s just something about the quiet confidence that is displayed through his actions and words.  

Like Chipper Jones, Schafer is one of those few players who truly gives you a sense he was born to play the game of baseball.

In a roundabout way, I guess I’m saying that instead of panicking about a five-game stretch we should just trust the evaluations that we’d compiled with data that was collected over a much longer period of time.

Left field concerns:   While I’m confident that Schafer will prove effective while battling through inevitable strikeouts, I’m also pretty sure the Braves spent about $2.5 million too much on the left field manequin that Scott Boras sold them in February.

When you talk to Garret Anderson, he’s as lifeless as he looks during those few occasions that he’s actually deemed himself healthy enough to be on the field.  He’s a nice guy who has had a nice career. 

But there were a number of better, more economically-sound options for the Braves, who would have been wise to just stick to their initial intention to give some of their own players a chance to prove they could play left field.  

Braves manager Bobby Cox pushed for Anderson’s signing and he has continued to show support for the 36-year-old outfielder.  Cox  has labeled him to be a “glider” who moves effortlessly toward balls in the outfield.  In addition, he’s believes the 36-year-old outfielder will be a key piece to this year’s success. 

Well Cox is entitled to his opinion and I’m entitled to believe the Braves will be putting Matt Diaz in left field much more frequently than Anderson.  

Don’t let Diaz’s .217 batting average concern you.  He’s owns a .255 career batting average in April.  During the season’s other five months, he’s combined to hit .322.

Weekend remains
:  While shutting the Braves out for a second consecutive game on Saturday, the Pirates threw just one pitch with a runner in scoring position.  

Adding to the afternoon’s frustration was the fact that early in the game, some of the Braves players felt that they had started to decipher the pitch signals Pirates pitching coach Joe Kerrigan was relaying to Ian Snell.  Still with Kerrigan in plain sight, Braves left-handed hitters recorded just one hit (Casey Kotchman’s fourth-inning double) in 22 at-bats against Snell.

Boyer update:
  I don’t have the details yet, but it sounds like the Braves are close to completing a trade that will provde them a return for Blaine Boyer.  They aren’t going to get more than a marginal Minor Leaguer in return.  But that’s better than nothing.

I’m taking a few days off to enjoy time with the family here in Wheeling, WV.  I’ll check in from time to time and follow the games scheduled to be played in rainy D.C. this week.  .    

  

McCann dealing with blurred vision

Brian McCann isn’t ready to discuss the possibility that he might need to go on the disabled list. But the Braves All-Star catcher is concerned about the blurred vision he’s experienced in his left eye since Opening Day. 

After returning from Philadelphia last week, McCann visited an eye doctor who told him that there’s a chance that his vision has changed since he underwent Lasik surgery in Nov. 2007.  But while wearing a contact over the last week, the 25-year-old catcher didn’t experience improved vision.

Essentially, McCann’s left eye has been dry and he hasn’t benefitted from the use of eye drops.  On Saturday morning, he began using a prescribed ointment. 

If this latest treatment doesn’t work, McCann may have to have the vision in his left eye re-adjusted and there’s certainly a chance this would necessitate him to miss at least one week and possibly experience a stint on the 15-day disabled list. 

McCann began this season with six hits, including two homers and three doubles in his first 15 at-bats.  But he recorded just one single in the 17 at-bats that followed. 

While experiencing better vision during the day, McCann entered Saturday’s game hitting .167 (4-for-24) in night games and .375 (3-for-8) in day games. 

Boyer DFA’d:  Blaine Boyer didn’t seem too surprised when he walked in the clubhouse on Saturday morning and was told that the Braves had designated him for assignment.   To make room for Jo-Jo Reyes, Boyer had established himself as the obvious roster casualty. 

While making 51 appearances before last year’s All-Star break, Boyer posted a 3.93 ERA and saw opponents hit .237 with a .301 on-base percentage.   In the 28 appearances that have followed, he’s posted a 13.06 ERA, seen opponents hit .330 with a .402 on-base percentage.

The Braves saw the tremendous physical skills that will likely lead another club to claim Boyer off the waiver wire.  But as time progressed, they became convinced that his mental shortcomings were going to prevent him living up to his potential in their organization.

Chipper and Escobar updates:  Chipper Jones is still aiming to return to the lineup on Sunday and there’s a chance that he could be joined by Yunel Escobar, who has missed the past two games with a strained abdominal muscle. 

Escobar was able to perform just one situp on Friday.  But by Saturday morning, the 26-year-old shortstop’s strength had improved to the point that the Braves gained the belief that he’d be available for Sunday’s series finale against the Pirates.  

This Time It Counts

I’m not sure if I should have checked with the MLB licensing execs before using that headline.  But given what has transpired with the Braves over the course of this offseason, I didn’t see any need to wait until the All-Star Game to use it.

Before you ask whether one of Paul Kinzer’s term sheet requests or premature speculation is going to prolong the soap opera that was Frank Wren’s offseason, I figured I’d let you know Garret Anderson really has signed and no, he didn’t use invisible ink. 

Having been left at the alter on more than one occasion this offseason, the Braves were very guarded about the comments they made before Anderson underwent his physical on Tuesday and officially said, “I do.”

It’s quite obvious that many of the Braves are ecstatic about the fact that Ken Griffey Jr. opened the door that allowed Anderson to come to Atlanta.  Instead of worrying about the uncertainties Griffey would have brought while serving in a platoon, they now find themselves looking forward to the consistencies that Anderson will provide while playing left field on a regular basis. 

“It’s a tremendous pickup, great, great pickup,” Braves manager
Bobby Cox said. “This guy can practically play every day.”  <p>  

These aren’t exactly the words you’d want to hear if you’re Matt Diaz, who now finds himself as a backup who will see occasional time in left field.  But Chipper Jones is among those whose seems happy to know Anderson will be resting with him somewhere in the middle of the lineup.

“He’ll make a difference, ” Jones said. “We’re a little left-handed for my taste.  But Garret is going to help this team win ballgames and that’s all I care about.” 

The projected Braves lineup consists of two right-handed hitters: Jeff Francoeur and Yunel Escobar; and one switch hitter in Jones.  But manager Bobby Cox doesn’t seem too worried about the fact that his lineup will regularly consist of five left-handed hitters   — Anderson, Josh Anderson, Casey Kotchman, Brian McCann and Kelly Johnson. 

“Garret, Johnson, Mac and Kotchman have all hit left-handers in the past,” Cox said. “It really doesn’t matter how it shapes up.”

<b> Morton update:  </b>  Charlie Morton strained a muscle on his left side on Tuesday and it will be at least another week until he’s able to resume throwing. 

<b> Going to Lakeland </b>  Chipper Jones and Garret Anderson (presumably) will be the only projected starters not making the trip to Lakeland for Wednesday’s Grapefruit League opener.  Jair Jurrjens, Jo-Jo Reyes, Manny Acosta, Stephen Marek and  Eric O’Flaherty are all scheduled to pitch.

Late blogotorial addition: (Sorry we didn’t have this information for the early edition)

<b> Minor freak injury:  </b>  As I mentioned earlier in a comment, Blaine Boyer sent me a text to tell me the cut he suffered on his right index finger came courtesy of an apple slicer.  Unfortunately for the right-hander, he had no intention to even make contact with that utensil.  He was simply reaching for a can opener. 

Boyer said the small laceration had no effect on him during his Tuesday morning bullpen session.  But he won’t make his scheduled appearance against the Tigers on  Wednesday.

- 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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