Results tagged ‘ Greg Norton ’

Traveling to the park in style

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If you saw the Buck Commander bus heading toward Turner Field early Saturday afternoon,  there’s a chance you saw all of the bearded men pictured on the side and simply assumed that you’d just seen ZZ Top’s new tour bus.  
But I’m going to have to guess that there weren’t too many of you, who realized that Chipper Jones was on board and simply allowing his good friend and business partner Willie Robertson to give him a lift to the park
Robertson, who was in Atlanta this weekend for a hunting-related convention, is the founder and president of the Buck Commander company that is financially supported by a handful of Major Leaguers, including Jones and Adam LaRoche.
After making his debut with the Braves during Saturday’s 4-3 win over the Dodgers, LaRoche jokingly said that he was going to spend the next two months living in the bus and keep it parked in Jones’ driveway.
When told of LaRoche’s plan, Jones provided his best Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson impersonation by simply raising his eyebrow.
Still LaRoche was given the opportunity to drive the bus back to Jones’ residence on Saturday night and in the process, he thinks there’s a chance that he might have caused Jones’ wife, Sharon, some aggravation.
“I think I ran over some of Sharon’s plants or flowers  pulling it in there,” LaRoche said.

Escobar update:  While taking batting practice in the indoor cage this afternoon, Yunel Escobar had some trouble getting his bat around on the inside fastball.  The swelling around his right wrist has subsided.  But he likely won’t know if he’ll be able to play during Monday’s series opener in San Diego, until he has the opportunity to take some swings and make some throws during the afternoon hours.  <p>
Hudson update:  Because he believes there’s a chance he could resume his Minor League rehab assignment next weekend, Tim Hudson won’t accompany the Braves on their trip to Southern California.  Instead, he’ll stay in Atlanta and continue to rehab the mild left groin strain that he suffered before Friday’s schedule rehab start.  
Hudson remains hopeful that this ailment won’t prevent him from rejoining the Atlanta rotation some time this month.

Norton’s rainbow:  While Greg Norton was certainly due to record pinch hits on both Friday and Saturday, there wouldn’t have been much reason to believe this would be the time he’d break out of this slump if you would have seen the multi-colored bruise he gained on his calf courtesy of a foul tip on Thursday night.
Initially Norton didn’t think it was a big deal and didn’t really realize any swelling until the Braves charter flight left Ft. Lauderdale and was en route to Atlanta.   The Braves medical staff drained some of the blood out of his calf on Saturday and the veteran pinch hitter has spent the past couple days limping around with his leg heavily wrapped.
The bruise extends from ankle to knee and I’d detail some of the colors present if I’d actually seen them before.   Believe me when I say it’s harder to look at Norton’s calf than it was to watch Jeff Bennett attempt to keep inherited runners from scoring.
Minor League Rehab stints:
  Both Omar Infante and Buddy Carlyle will play for Class A Rome on Tuesday night.  Carlyle, who believes he could return to the Atlanta bullpen soon, will pitch the first two innings.  This will mark the beginning of a Minor League rehab assignment for Infante, who has been out since May 20 with a broken left hand.  

Braves promote Canizares

This morning’s surprise came courtesy of the lineup board, which showed that that Barbaro Canizares will be batting cleanup during this afternoon’s series finale against the Pirates.

Canizares, who was hitting .344 with eight homers and a .533 slugging percentage with Triple-A Gwinnett, could play first base until Casey Kotchman returns from the disabled list.  He also could be used as a designated hitter when the Braves spend both of the next two weekends in an American League park. 

To make room for Canizares, the Braves placed Greg Norton on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right ankle.  Norton has hit .098 in 41 at-bats this year.   

The 29-year-old Canizares has always shown the ability to swing the bat.  But his rise toward the Majors had been delayed by his defensive shortcomings.

Canizares will wear No.25, which most of you remember was worn by Andruw Jones throughout his career in Atlanta. 

Time for Francoeur to find a groove

Those of you who said that Tom Glavine wouldn’t step on the Turner Field mound this year need to head to the ATM or at least examine the fine print of your friendly wagers.   From what I could tell, he had no trouble standing on that mound while completing three innings and dodging a Greg Norton liner during Monday afternoon’s simulated game.  

As long as his left shoulder is still cooperating, Glavine is still planning to make a Minor League rehab start for Triple-A Gwinnett on Saturday.  In other words, the simulated game went as well as could be expected, minus the Norton liner that bruised the 43-year-old left-hander’s left hip.  

When Norton walked through the clubhouse and said he was sorry, Glavine said, “It’s better that you hit it off my leg, instead of into the seats.”

Never afraid to make himself the punchline of a one-liner, Norton said, “If I was fast enough,  I’d have run and caught that ball before it hit him.”

The soft liner didn’t seem to affect Glavine’s delivery or sense of humor.  

“I told Norton that I’ve gotten hit a lot harder with slap shots,” Glavine said in reference to his hockey background.  

Based on the comments posted today, your primary interest isn’t centered around the 43-year-old left-hander, who  won’t  be in position to pitch in a Major League game until the first week of June.  Instead, most of your attention seems to be focused on that 25-year-old right fielder who finds his current statistics eerily similar to the ones he produced at this time last year.  

When Francoeur homered on the first pitch that he saw, there was reason to believe that this year might be different than the last.  But 509 pitches and two homers later, the most significant difference is the $2.92 million raise he gained after producing career lows in batting average (.239) homers (11) and OPS (.653)  last year.   <p>

Through his first 36 games this year, Francoeur has hit .252 with three homers  a .272 on-base percentage, a .371 slugging percentage and a .642 OPS   —  fourth-worst among the 40 qualified National League outfielders.

His numbers through his first 36 games last year included a .262 batting average,  three homers, a .310 OBP, a .421 SLG and a .721 OPS.  

With less than 80 percent of the season complete, we haven’t reached a point where we can justifiably say that Francoeur is destined to repeat last year’s disappointments.   But his current trend is pointing him in that direction.  

During his first 18 games this year, Francoeur hit .292 with a .320 OBP, a .458 SLG and a .778 OPS.  In the 18 games that have followed, he’s hit .211 with a .224 OBP, .282 SLG and .505 OPS.

One of the most encouraging things about Francoeur’s start came from the fact that he recorded eight hits and 10 RBIS in his first 17 at-bats with runners in scoring position.  But he’s  had just four hits and seven RBIs in his past 26 at-bats with RISP.  

Still lost within the .279 batting average Francoeur has produced with runners in scoring position is the fact that he’s recorded three hits and produced four RBIs in six plate appearances with two outs and a runner on third base.  

In addition, simply looking at his outfield assists total isn’t going to show how many runs he saved based on the fact that runners are less apt to attempt to score or take an extra base against his arm.  

But while agreeing the statistics don’t tell the whole story about a player’s value, you can’t ignore that Francoeur’s $3.375 million salary has put him in a position where he needs to turn things around before the Braves reach the point where they deem that his cost outweighs his value.  

The Braves were reluctant to give Francoeur this salary in February and they certainly aren’t going to want to provide him an even greater arbitration-generated salary next year, if he isn’t able to end the trend that is pointing him in the same direction that he traveled in 2008.  

But it’s still too early to talk about the possibility of the Braves trading or non-tendering Francoeur.   Right now, I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt and saying that his current three-week slump is just a product of the fact that he was bound to encounter struggles after completely altering his swing and stance during the offseason.  

With this being said, the business aspect that made Francoeur a millionaire is the same one that will lead the Braves to be much less patient than they were when they stuck with him throughout last year’s struggles.

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