Results tagged ‘ Hank Aaron ’

Wrapping up a busy day from Disney

Today was further proof that things can get a little busy when Hank Aaron arrives in camp. The Hammer expressed his appreciation for Bobby Cox, threw some love in the direction of Tommy Hanson and said that he’s reserving judgment on Jason Heyward until he sees how the 20-year-old outfielder performs at the Major League level. 

Oh yeah, he also said that he was happy with Mark McGwire’s steroid confession, but wished the admission had been made sooner. 

Before going over some of the highlights of Hank’s address, I’ll let you know that the Braves still haven’t provided confirmation that they have signed highly-regarded Dominican shortstop Edward Salcedo.

But it still appears that this deal could be confirmed in the very near future with the completion of a physical. 
 
Braves international director of scouting Johnny Almarez was in camp today and there is reason to believe that his arrival had something to do with Salcedo, the 6-foot-3, 190-pound shortstop who is regarded among the best international prospects. 

Early indications are that the Braves will be providing Salcedo with a signing bonus that is worth slightly north of $1.5 million, but less than $2 million. 

OK now to recap some of the things Aaron had to say about the Braves:

(Thoughts about Cox’s retirement at the end of this season)

“It’s going to be sad when he leaves. He’s not only been great for Atlanta, but also the game of baseball.  The game of baseball is going to miss him.”

(Thoughts about Tommy Hanson)

“This kid has the world in front of him, really. If everything stays on par and he pitches the way I think he can pitch, I think the Braves have a superstar.”

(on Heyward, who he will see for the first time during Tuesday’s first full-squad workout)

“I think he’s going to do well, but I don’t get excited until after I see them perform in the Major Leagues. Then I will try to put an opinion on what I think they can do.” 

(when asked if he could take Billy Wagner deep)

“I think my deep days are over with.   The only thing I can hit is a golf ball —  all over the place.”

Tuesday’s workout: Balls will be flying tomorrow when the position players start taking their first rounds of batting practice on the field. It will be nice to see the 6-foot-5, 245-pound Heyward take his swings. 

But if you’re looking for raw power and you’re coming to camp tomorrow make sure you watch Cody Johnson take his BP cuts. 

It’s too early to determine whether Johnson’s mighty swing will ever provide the consistency needed to make it to the Majors.  But based on what I saw during Brian McCann’s charity softball tournament in November, it’s fun to watch the powerful kid launch balls into orbit.

Also check back in tomorrow morning to get an update on Jair Jurrjens, who is planning to begin his throwing program at some point this week. 

Heyward and Hank Aaron make their arrivals

Jason Heyward has arrived at Spring Training to enhance the growing legend that has built during his Minor League career.  But with the presence of Hank Aaron, there truly was a legend present in Braves camp this morning.  

While Aaron has flown to Florida with other Braves execs to just spend a couple days around camp, Heyward will be spending the next six weeks attempting to prove he’s ready to begin the season as Atlanta’s starting right fielder.  

After making his arrival to Braves camp on Monday morning, Chipper Jones once again expressed that he is confident that the 20-year-old Heyward will be quickly transitioning himself from being one of those invitees with a high jersey numbers to being a big leaguer on Opening Day.  

“I’m going to say he’s not (wearing) No. 71 at the end (of Spring Training),” Jones said in reference to Heyward’s current jersey number.  “Just a hunch.”  

Heyward, who is widely considered the game’s top prospect, has grown to be even more physically imposing than he was last year, when he experienced his first big league camp.  Conditioning and maturity have allowed him to blossom into a 6-foot-5, 245 pound muscular figure.  

After Derek Lowe said Heyward “looks like an outside linebacker”, Jones said, “He’s Jevon Kearse.”

Whatever the case, Heyward’s success over the next couple of weeks will play a big role on how the Braves look during the early weeks and months of the season.   Despite the fact that he has compiled fewer than 200 at-bats above the Class A level, he is viewed as potential difference maker in this lineup.

When the Braves made their half-hearted attempt to pursue Johnny Damon, they recognized he might be able to improve their lineup as a leadoff hitter.  But if Heyward proves he’s ready for the Majors, they knew that they probably could utilize the dollars that were earmarked for Damon in a more efficient manner.  

If Heyward struggles during the early weeks of camp, the Braves may evaluate possibilities to grab a low-cost outfielder, who could help Matt Diaz and Melky Cabrera in the corner outfield spots.  But for now, they are hoping their 20-year-old phenom is with them when the Cubs visit Turner Field for the April 5 Opening Day matinee.  

“He’s going to be fine,” Jones said. “He’s got a good head on his shoulders.  He knows how to handle it.  I doubt that any of us are going to have to say a word.  We’re just going to sit back and watch.   The kid has a good head on his shoulders.   He knows what he has to do.  He was here last year and he knew last year that he was going to be in this situation this year.  He’s been preparing all year for this moment.”

Troy Glaus also arrived in camp today.  There haven’t been any sightings of Yunel Escobar or Martin Prado.  

Griffey, Glavine and Geritol

Within this next week, the Braves will likely sign Tom Glavine and continue their pursuit of Ken Griffey Jr.  Then to further show his appreciation for senior citizen Hall of Famers, Frank Wren is going extend Hank Aaron the invitation to come out of retirement to rightfully regain his title as the undisputed home run king.

Imaginary sources have indicated Aaron’s motivation to come out of retirement came last week when he awoke and immediately proclaimed, “If Andruw Jones can get a job, then there must be at least one other team looking for somebody that swings like a 75-year-old man.”

Seriously, all attempts at humor aside, the Braves could complete a successful offseason with the acquisitions of both Glavine and Griffey.  Before beginning their respective Hall of Fame clocks, these two legends still have the potential to be productive and just as importantly, the understanding that their wishes to play in Atlanta will only be granted with small financial guarantees. 

Approaching his 43rd birthday and coming off a surgical procedure that repaired his left elbow and left shoulder, Glavine hasn’t yet had the opportunity to face live hitters and truly prove whether he’s worth the guaranteed $1 million the Braves are willing to offer. 

But he says his arm feels better than it has over the course of the past five years and while this might be a product of his stubborn desire to play, I’m thinking his pride is too great for him to decide to pitch if he thinks there’s even an inkling that he might repeat last year’s frustrating experience.

If there was any inkling that he was going to embarrass himself, Glavine would likely take his 305 career  wins and head into retirement.  The only downside to this would be the fact that he’d once again have to share a stage with Greg Maddux when they would both be inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2013. 

If I had to spend a majority of my career sharing the limelight with Maddux, I certainly might be tempted to play another year.  But enough about my selfish shortcomings and back to Glavine.

With Jorge Campillo, Jo-Jo Reyes, Tommy Hanson, James Parr and Charlie Morton, the Braves have plenty of candidates to serve as their fifth starter.  They don’t exactly need another pitcher.  But even at 43 and coming off surgery, I wouldn’t necessarily consider Glavine to simply be just another pitcher. 

If Glavine is truly healthy and capable of consistently throwing his fastball around 88 mph, his changeup will once again prove effective and provide him the opportunity to prove he can still be better than any of the aforementioned candidates — minus Hanson.

By the end of this season, there are some who believe Hanson might actually be the best candidate to pitch in any role in the Braves organization.  But the Braves don’t want to rush his development and at the same time, they could certainly save some money by delaying his arbitration clock and keeping him in the Minors long enough to ensure he won’t be a Super Two at the conclusion of the 2010 season.

Now taking this one step further, if there are doubts about Glavine, why aren’t there equal ones about Kenshin Kawakami, who is slated to pitch in the fourth spot of the rotation? 

Glavine’s notched 305 wins in this league and he pitched effectively in the three starts that he made while actually healthy last year.  Shouldn’t he be given the same benefit of the doubt as a Japanese hurler, whose only previous association with the Majors came  via the games he’s watched on television and MLB.com? 

Glavine is seeking an incentive-laden contract that could net him $6 million, most of which he’s comfortable to defer over a negotiable length of time.  When it’s said and done, the package will probably be worth closer to $4.5 million and with this gamble the Braves will only be providing a guarantee of $1 million. 

I’m less clear about what Griffey is actually seeking from a financial standpoint.  But I received some indication that the Braves might be able to secure him for $1-2 million.  This year, the veteran outfielder begins drawing some of the deferred funds from the contract he signed with the Reds before the start of the 2000 season. 

While Griffey hasn’t shown that he can still hit Glavine or most other Major League left-handed pitchers, he has hit .291 with a .908 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) against right-handed pitchers over the past four seasons. 

A platoon of Griffey and Matt Diaz in left field sounds a lot better than one that would consist of Brandon Jones and Diaz. 

-  Mark Bowman

 

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