Results tagged ‘ Fredi Gonzalez ’

Uggla and Gonzalez gear up for Fish

Welcome back to Disney for the resumption of the Grapefruit League schedule.  After enjoying their only offday during Spring Training, the Braves will return to action this afternoon to play the most important game Disney has ever hosted in March. 

Forget about that Domincan Republic-Venezuela game in the 2006 World Baseball Classic.  This afternoon’s matchup against the Marlins is much bigger for former Fish Dan Uggla and Fredi Gonzalez. 

In fact the Braves called a closed door team meeting this morning and sources have said Uggla went all Chris Brown on some bathroom mirrors after this video was shown.

Truthfully, these Marlins-Braves matchups will truly mean a little more once the season arrives.  In fact, today’s game appears to be a sidebar to the other events unfolding here today.

Luis Salazar returned to camp this morning for the first time since March 9, when he was hit with a foul ball and suffered injuries that cause him to lose his left eye last week.  Per his Twitter account (@LV_Ware) Minor League outfielder L.V. Ware said, “Just seen Luis Salazar & he is good spirits.” 

Salazar is scheduled to talk to us around 10 a.m. It’s remarkable that he is able to do all of this just two weeks after enduring a traumatic experience that could have ended in a much more tragic manner.  

Check MLB.com and braves.com later this morning for a report.  You can also follow me on Twitter @mlbbowman.

There will also be some attention pointed in the direction of Tommy Hanson, who is scheduled to throw six innings against a group of Braves Minor Leaguers this morning.  Because Hanson’s back was a little sore, the Braves pushed this start back two days.  No big deal, but it will be interesting to see what the big redhead says after this outing. 

With the end of the exhibition season one week away, there are still some questions to be answered.  It’s still not clear who will win the last couple spots on the bench?  I’ll stick with Ed Lucas and Brooks Conrad as my guesses. 

Once Brandon Beachy and Mike Minor make their scheduled starts this weekend, there might be more clarity about which will be named the fifth starter.  But for now, I’m sticking with Beachy.  If you want to see my argument against Minor go back to a number of different blogs posted throughout Spring Training.  The short of it is, he needs more time.

The Braves also need to fill the final spot in their bullpen and as time has passed it has seemed less likely that Scott Proctor will fill it.  Cristhian Martinez has emerged as a favorite because he can work multiple innings and serve as the “swing guy” in the pen.  But Jairo Ascencio, formerly known as Luis Valdez, has been making multiple-inning appearances and looking like the more impressive option. 

Before I wrap up this morning, I have to ask how many of you would have provided the same response I did when my wife was telling me the “special” numbers she had chosen for last night’s Mega Millions drawing. 

Of course if they were so “special”, I wouldn’t be composing this blog and getting ready to watch the Braves and Mets play today. Sorry it’s just become habit to write that.  It’s still the Marlins this afternoon. 

Anyhow, when she asked me to guess which numbers she had selected, I correctly guessed “1″ because she was born in January.  Then after I guessed wrong with a couple numbers, she said “29″ and I responded with “John Smoltz?”

After going silent for a few minutes, she said, “I can’t believe you would say that? Do you not remember we got married January 29?”

It didn’t work when I attempted to save myself by saying, “Funny you should mention that.  I was watching old footage of Smoltzie the other day and every time I saw his jersey number, I thought about our anniversary date.”   

Fredi sends Huddy to the mound to face his former Fish

Welcome back as Tim Hudson resumes his tour of Florida.  After making his debut on the Gulf Coast last week, Hudson has positioned himself just a few miles from the Atlantic Ocean to start against the Marlins this afternoon. 

Of course, Hudson is essentially just a part of today’s undercard.  There’s a lot more attention being placed on Fredi Gonzalez, who will be matching up against the Marlins for the first time since the club fired him in June. 

But with Gonzalez saying he has no hard feelings toward the Marlins, today’s most interesting angle might center around the exhibition season debut of Julio Teheran, the highly-touted 20-year-old right-hander who ranks as MLB.com’s 10th-best overall prospect.

Braves bullpen coach Eddie Perez is among the many who have been amazed at the command that Teheran is showing at such a young age. 

As mentioned a couple weeks ago, Perez says Teheran and left-hander Brett Oberholtzer are the two pitchers that have impressed him the most in camp.

It’s no surprise that he would pick these two hurlers, known for their pinpoint control. The man will always be able to say that he sat behind the plate more than any other catcher when Greg Maddux was standing on the mound.

Arodys Vizcaino, who tossed a scoreless ninth in yesterday’s win over the Nationals, has also made a good impression during the early portion of this Grapefruit League season.

Entering camp, it seemed Diory Hernandez was a lock to begin the season as one of the utility infielders.  But Ed Lucas has at least kept things interesting while recording six hits (all singles) in his first 13 at-bats.  Hernandez has been equally impressive, with five hits, including two doubles and a triple, in his first 11 at-bats.  <p> 

Lucas is at second base and Hernandez at short for this afternoon’s game.  This battle might come down to who proves more valuable from a defensive standpoint, especially at the shortstop position.

Check braves.com later to read about Teheran’s outing and Fredi’s thoughts about managing against the Marlins.  Former Brave and current Marlin Wes Helms said he felt getting fired last summer was the “best thing that could have happened” to Gonzalez. 

BRAVES LINEUP
Prado 5
McLouth 8
Heyward 9
McCann 2
Hinske 7
Freeman 3
Lucas 4
Hernandez 6
Hudson 1 

  

 

In many ways, Spring Training does matter

When Bobby Cox was nearing the end of his managerial career just a few months ago, I began to wonder how so many of our lives might have been different had Ted Turner and the Braves front office not hired Chuck Tanner almost immediately after the 1985 season concluded. 

At the time, Cox was guiding the Blue Jays through their first postseason experience.  Once his club was eliminated, he made it known he wanted to return to Atlanta even though the only job the Braves had to offer was the general manager’s role. 

Had Cox made it known he wanted to get closer to his wife and daughter, Tanner might never have made his way to Atlanta.  At the same time, the Braves might not have gained the direction provided once Cox, Paul Snyder and Bobby Dews committed themselves to overhauling a horrible farm system.

Once Cox returned to the bench in the middle of the 1990 season, he began the historical journey that included 14 consecutive division titles. 

When I asked Cox what would have happened had he returned to Atlanta to be the Braves manager in 1986, he said he would have ended up in “in five different places trying to raise a family.”

Had Cox been forced to continue living the nomadic lifestyle reserved for many baseball managers and coaches, he might have never crossed paths with Fredi Gonzalez — the man he proudly will watch assume his role as the Braves manager.

(Of course if the Braves are 10 games out of first place by the end of May, I’m pretty sure many of you will have wished that Cox never had gained that opportunity to be impressed by Gonzalez.)

Life is full of twists and turns that are influenced on yesterday’s events. There are countless “what if” scenarios that could be analyzed in every aspect of life.  In fact, if we wanted to further the one above, we could ask “what would have happened if the Tigers didn’t make John Smoltz available or if the Cubs gave Greg Maddux what he was seeking?” 

With this said, it was still interesting to sit with Gonzalez this week and hear him talk about “the good fortune” he has experienced during his coaching career. 

While in Atlanta for the final weekend of the 2001 season, the Marlins parted ways with a number of coaches, including Gonzalez.  A few weeks later,  Gonzalez accepted the Braves offer to manage their Class A club in Macon.

It was a role he would have filled had some guy named Carlos Tosca not vacated his role as Triple-A Richmond’s manager to become the Blue Jays manager.  Yeah, this is the same Tosca who will once again serve as Gonzalez’s bench coach this year.

After working in Richmond during the 2002 season, Gonzalez was watching television and saw that Ned Yost was hired to serve as the Brewers manager.  His reaction was simply “good for Ned.”

Soon he realized, it was actually “good for Fredi”.

With Yost no longer around to serve as his third base coach, Cox called Gonzalez and asked him to fill the role. 

It was funny to hear Gonzalez reminisce about taking this call and hearing Cox say, “do you want to talk to your wife about it and call me back?”

Obviously there was no need for Gonzalez to talk to his wife.  This was the opportunity he wanted and the one that brings us where we are today, anticipating how he will do while serving as Cox’s successor.

Those previous 16 graphs were either meaningless or simply longest introduction ever written.  Let’s go with the latter and promise that we’ll make these graphs and thoughts a lot tighter by the time this computer is brought back north at the end of March.

Looking back on the paths traveled by Cox and Gonzalez, we are reminded that every decision and every action can influence what transpires in the future. 

This is pertinent now because over the next few weeks, you’re bound to read or hear somebody say, “it doesn’t matter what happens in Spring Training.”

In some instances, this is somewhat true.  In other words, I don’t think people are going to be overly concerned about what Brian McCann hits or the ERAs produced by Tim Hudson or Derek Lowe during the Grapefruit League season.

Because of the small sample sizes, there really isn’t any reason to put stock in the stats produced during Spring Training.  But with this being said, Nate McLouth is one of those guys who desperately needs to head back north with a batting average that starts with a 3 or above.

McLouth is on a mission to regain his confidence and he’s seemingly made some progress during the winter.  But the only true way for him to truly do this is to find success at the plate during this exhibition season.

As he struggled to hit during last year’s Grapefruit League season, McLouth attempted to convince himself that things would change once the regular season arrived.  When they didn’t, he gained first-hand knowledge of the value of confidence.

The Braves will truly benefit if they are re-introduced to the care-free McLouth, who can provide a power-speed mix at the plate and also play much more aggressive defense than he did during his 2010 nightmare.   

During the past two exhibition seasons, Freddie Freeman has held his own in big league camp.  But now that he’s at the mature age of 21, he will have to do so with the pressure of knowing he’s being counted on to serve as Atlanta’s starting first baseman. 

If he needs any advice about how to handle this pressure, he can simply ask or tweet his good friend Jason Heyward, who truly never seemed fazed by all of the attention he gained when he was in the same position last year.

Heyward, Freeman and many of the other position players will participate in the first full-squad workout next Saturday, exactly one week before the Grapefruit League opener is played against the Mets.

Because the game is in Port St. Lucie, there’s definitely no reason to believe Chipper Jones will be playing in that first game. In fact, it’s probably safe to assume he’ll take it easy during the first week of games. 

But it still appears he’s confident that he’ll be ready to play by the time Opening Day arrives.  Whether or not this proves to be true will be dictated by what transpires over the next couple of weeks.

I‘ll be providing regular blog updates again beginning Monday, when Gonzalez welcomes his pitchers and catchers to camp.

Follow me on Twitter @mlbbowman

 

Odds and ends from an icy week

When Fredi Gonzalez answered the phone Wednesday and informed me that he and Roger McDowell were in the process of shoveling Bobby Cox’s driveway, I figured I had gained a light-hearted tidbit to start a story. 

But when Cox called from his sunny Mexico locale Thursday, he informed me that I didn’t get all of the story.  In fact, I missed what truly was the humorous part. 

When I told Cox that Fredi and Roger had cleaned his driveway, he said, “Yeah, I know.  Did they also tell you that they both fell down and slid all the way to the bottom of the driveway?”

That would have been priceless.  Roger has proven that he has the versatility that most other closers have never possessed.  I mean over the course of the past two decades he has been both the Second Spitter and the Second Luger.  Not many people can ever cough that up when composing their bio.

OK, enough of the winter-related nonsense.  I mean, we don’t even have time to mention that the number of school days missed by our kids here in Atlanta matched the number of wins Kawakami totaled in his final 33 starts with the Braves. 

Speaking of Kawakami, it will be interesting to see if the Braves decide to invite him to Spring Training. 

Julio Teheran, who will most likely be among this year’s non-roster invitees, will be one of the 26 Braves prospects who will gather at Turner Field next week for the club’s first Rookie Development Program.

Teheran, Edward Salcedo, Randall Delgado, Christian Bethancourt, Matt Lipka, Arodys Vizcaino and Tyler Pastornicky are among the most recognizable prospects who have been invited to participate.

They will participate in some on-field activities with Minor League field coordinator Dave Trembley and also learn about some off-field issues, like how to deal with the media and social media. 

When you get a chance, check out the story I wrote about Chipper today.  It’s tough to say somebody looked good when they are in an indoor batting cage in the middle of January.  But as he continued to center Alan Butts’ pitches today, you could see Chipper still has that confidence and swagger. 

It’s amazing how things have changed since June, when he was ready to retire at the end of 2010.  While talking to him today, I would have to say that he genuinely believes that 2012 could be in his future. 

 
 
 

Some early Braves reaction about Fredi

Fredi Gonzalez called Bobby Cox around 8 a.m. CT today to inform him that he had been dismissed as the Marlins manager.  It’s safe to say Cox doesn’t think too highly of Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria. 

“I was shocked,” Cox said. “I know that (owner) is unpredictable.  But everything that he has done for that guy, are (you) kidding me?   Every year, they’ve played their (butts) off.   That guy didn’t appreciate anything.   He’s one of those guys that thinks  you change (just to change).  He’s always wanting to fire the coaches.  Always.  That’s his history.  He lost a good one there.”

While the Braves aren’t commenting on the possibility that Gonzalez would serve as Cox’s successor after this season, Chipper Jones is one of the many who thinks it would be good to get him back in the organization.

“I think everybody here would love to have Fredi back,” Jones said. ” He coached third base here for a few years and learned a lot from Bobby.  He knows how things work around here.   All the guys love him.  I think he’d be a great fit.  In what capacity? That remains to be seen.” 

Earlier today, I said there might be a chance Gonzalez would join the coaching staff at some point this year.  But I think there’s a much better chance that he is given a role that would allow him to serve as an advisor, who would spend some time at Turner Field and also get a better feel for the Minor League system.       

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 41,587 other followers