Results tagged ‘ Jair Jurrjens ’

Kimbrel gets back on track

Like many of the other members of the “A-List” Yankees, Cameron Diaz didn’t make an appearance at Disney this afternoon.  But a couple blasts from the past — Tom Glavine and Craig Kimbrel’s smile  — were spotted on the grounds at one point today. 

Looking back on this afternoon’s 5-4 loss to the Yankees, the most encouraging development was obviously the perfect ninth inning tossed by Kimbrel.  Yes, it was against three Minor Leagers and no, it wasn’t exactly picture-perfect dominance. 

But this was the kind of clean outing Kimbrel needed to gain some of the confidence he was unable to gather in his first three appearances.  Also in the process of the blanking the Yankees, the young reliever might have gained a feel for his curveball, which he struggled to command in his first three outings. 

Kimbrel threw just two curveballs and they came in succession to start Doug Bernier’s at-bat.  But it was obvious the young hurler was encouraged when he described the first pitch breaker to Bernier as “probably the best curveball that I’ve thrown all Spring.” 

Kimbrel’s fastball touched 96 and after missing the strike zone with his first three pitches, he found adequate command and finished the outing in clean fashion.

As long as he starts to consistently command his curveball, Kimbrel should be fine.  Jonny Venters is likely capable to handle the closer’s role. 

But to be at their best, the Braves need Kimbrel to take care of their late innings with the  dominant form he had last year. 

Jair Jurrjens certainly wasn’t impressive while allowing four earned runs and six hits (four in a span of six batters) in four innings today. But he and Fredi Gonzalez believe he might have been predictable with either his delivery or pattern of pitches. 

The Yankees recorded four stolen base attempts in Jurrjens’ four innings.   Jurrjens said he might have become too predictable by only throwing offspeed pitches with a 1-1 count.

Whatever the case, Jurrjens has plenty of time to make necessary changes, whether mechanical or strategical, to protect against the running game.  But he might need to make some changes to whatever has caused him to allowed nine hits and six earned runs in the seven innings that have encompassed his past two starts. 

Jurrjens said he the ball felt better coming out of his hand Tuesday and the radar gun seemed to confirm with readings that rested around 90-91 and topped out at 93 mph. 

There shouldn’t be much concern about Jurrjens.  When he needed to win a roster spot before the 2008 season, he was sensational in the exhibition season.  But about six months before he ended the 2009 season with the NL’s third-best ERA (2.60),  I remember seeing him get hit around the yard in a simulated game by a couple of 19-year-old kids named Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman.

That’s all for today.  See ya tomorrow.     

Jurrjens will travel to Atlanta for MRI

Clubhouse Updates: 

When Jair Jurrjens reported to Citizens Bank Park this afternoon and was unable to complete his pitching delivery without feeling any discomfort in his right knee, the Braves took the precautionary route and opted to allow Brandon Beachy to start this series opener against the Phillies. 

Beachy will be making his Major League debut and starting for the first time since tossing six scoreless innings for Triple-A Gwinnett on Sept. 3.  The 24-year-old right-hander, who was signed out of the Virginia Valley Summer League in 2008, has spent the past couple of weeks on a throwing program devised by Minor League pitching coordinator Dave Wallace.

Jurrjens twice declined to talk to reporters today about this knee ailment he incurred while completing a bullpen session Friday.  He will fly back to Atlanta later tonight and undergo an MRI exam Tuesday.  The Braves are hoping he misses just this one start.

The Braves did get some good health-related news today, when an MRI revealed that the shoulder discomfort that Takashi Saito experienced Friday night was likely due to tendinitis.  Initially, there was reason to believe he would miss the remainder of the season. 

But Bobby Cox said Saito might be able to pitch again later this week. 


Returning to work on regular rest

Like Jair Jurrjens, I am returning to work tonight on regular rest.   Over the past four days, I’ve drained both a bank account (down payment) and countless calories (moving boxes, furniture and whatever else Tammy wanted) while moving into our new house.  

Still I wouldn’t say this past weekend was as draining as the experience Jurrjens had last Wednesday, when he squandered a 10-1 lead and played the central role in what had to be the worst meltdown I’ve witnessed during my 10 seasons on the Braves beat.

What?  You guys have all moved past that Coors Field disaster.  Sorry to rekindle a nightmare, less than 24 hours after Matt Diaz and Brian McCann gave the Braves their Major League-high 23rd last at-bat (11th walk-off) win of the season.   

But to once again show why I believe this Braves team is a team of destiny, I had to remind you of the short time span that elapsed between this demoralizing loss and yet another thrilling victory.   

During a radio interview with 790 The Zone Friday afternoon, I was asked if the loss to the Rockies would create a debilitating hangover effect.  It might have seemed like it a few hours later when Tommy Hanson endured a second straight rough outing.   But in all honesty, this was a question that didn’t elicit a quick and clear response.  

The question was certainly justifiable.  But while watching this team score a Major League-high 240 runs after the seventh inning this year,  I guess I’ve forgotten the fact that they might at times be prone to the mental pitfalls that exist in both life and the athletic world.  
There’s no doubt that the flight from Denver back to Atlanta was a little more somber than the many others the Braves have experienced this year.  But this isn’t a bunch that was going to replay Wednesday’s events in their heads too long.
Instead, this never-say-die bunch was unknowingly positioning itself to fittingly become the first team to ever win a game that ended with an instant replay review.   OK.  The review obviously wasn’t instant.  But the 86-second review process proved to be shorter than the added argument that would have ensued.  

Infante Watch:  Omar Infante went hitless during the opener and finale of this past weekend’s series against the Marlins.   The last time he went  hitless twice in a span of three consecutive starts was July July 17 (vs. Brewers) and July 20 (vs. Padres).

Infante’s .341 batting average would lead the National League if he had enough plate appearances to qualify to be listed among the league leaders.   The versatile Venezuelan has collected 360 plate appearances and would need to average 4.4 plate per game to reach the 502 plate appearances necessary to qualify for the batting title without penalty.   

Infante has averaged 4.6 plate appearances per game since moving into the leadoff role on a permanent basis on Aug. 2.  If he continues to produce like he has over the past couple of months, there’s certainly reason to believe he could win the batting title after his batting average is adjusted to show him hitless over the number of plate appearances that separate his season total and the 502 needed to qualify without this penalty being assessed.   

Using the assumption that Infante could be given three days to rest down the stretch, his current average would drop from .341 to .327 if you were to account for him going hitless over 15 at-bats.   The red-hot Carlos Gonzalez enters this week leading the National League with a .326 batting average.
As Infante continues to compile plate appearances, there will be a less significant effect on his adjusted average.  

Cox’s last ejection?  You have to wonder if yesterday marked the last time that we will see Braves manager Bobby Cox ejected.  With 32 regular season games remaining, Cox has been tossed four times this year (once every 32.5 games).  When you account for the fact that one of these ejections (Jonny Venters’  hitting Prince Fielder) didn’t even include a heated exchange with umpires, there’s certainly a chance that the beloved manager will head into retirement with his all-time ejections record total sitting at 157.  

NOTES:  Jurrjens is 5-0 with a 1.81 ERA in seven home starts and 0-4 with a 6.62 ERA in nine road starts this year.   He has notched each of those five wins while posting a 1.71 ERA in the five starts he’s made at Turner Field since returning from the disabled list…Freddie Freeman has hit .352 with 13 homers since June arrived.   The highly-regarded first base prospect might be too young to fill an everyday role in the midst of a pennant race.  But you’d have to think he could certainly help the Braves in September and maybe even October.  

NL showdown will feature plenty of good pitching

Exactly one week after securing World Series home-field advantage for the National League, Brian McCann  will have an opportunity to  help his Braves teammates maximize the number of games played at Turner Field in October. 

The Padres enter tonight’s series opener at The Ted with the NL’s best record, one-half game better than the Braves. There was little reason to think these two teams would be in this position when they matched up in early April.

There was certainly reason to believe the Braves would be a postseason contender.  But it would have been hard to predict that the Padres pitching staff would enter July 20 with the best ERA (3.25) in the Majors.  They ranked 17th during the 2009 season, while having the benefit of having Mat Latos only make 10 starts. 

Fortunately for the Braves, they won’t have to see Latos this week.  The talented young right-hander is currently on the disabled list because of an aborted sneeze that caused him to strain a muscle in his left side.

Greg Maddux likely isn’t among those who might be surprised to see what kind of pitching staff Bud Black has assembled.  When I asked Maddux to name the game’s best pitching coach about eight years ago, he quickly nominated Black. 

With this I regress and once again express my belief that Roger McDowell has what it takes to be a successful Major League manager.  But it appears that he’ll be happy to remain in his current role under Bobby Cox’s successor (a.k.a. Fredi Gonzalez). 

When Jair Jurrjens takes the mound to oppose Wade LeBlanc in tonight’s series opener, he’ll be much different than he was on April 12, when he allowed the Padres eight earned runs in just 3 1/3 innings.  His velocity was significantly down that day and only since returning from the disabled list has he admitted that he still was attempting to regain strength in the right shoulder that ailed him at the beginning of camp. 

As Jurrjens walked toward the dugout that day and Jo-Jo Reyes took the mound, I turned to Jim Misudek, the new Braves media relations assistant, and said, “It’s about to get a whole lot worse.” 

After losing that series opener in San Diego by a count of 17-2, the Braves came back and won the final two games of the series.  Of course the next couple of weeks weren’t exactly memorable for Cox’s troops. 

But since May 10, the Braves have produced a Major League-best 41-20 record.  The 5 1/2-game advantage they hold over the second-place Mets in the National League East race is the largest division lead they’ve held this late in the season since Sept. 27, 2005.

As you know, Nate McLouth is expected to return from the disabled list tonight and resume his role as the club’s primary centerfielder.  McLouth didn’t exactly abuse International League competition during his Minor League rehab stint. 

But he’s healthy and the Braves need to evaluate him over the course of the next week to see if they are confident in his ability to be a productive piece down the stretch.

It will be interesting to see what Jonny Venters (four games) and Cox (one game) have to say about the suspensions MLB handed them in response to Prince Fielder getting hit with a pitch on Saturday night. 

Whether or not you believe Venters was intentionally throwing at Fielder, you can’t dispute the fact that he gave everybody plenty of reason to believe he was throwing at the big first baseman.  In the end, MLB had to levy some kind of punishment.    

Heyward still unsure about status for All-Star Game

As you know by now, Jason Heyward will be spending the rest of the season’s first half on the disabled list. MRI results revealed that he is dealing with a painful bone bruise that will only provide his left thumb more discomfort until he gets a chance to rest for an extended period.

 “It’s a deep bone bruise,” Braves manager Bobby Cox said in reference to Heyward.  “That’s all it is.  The only way it’s going to get better is to get better.”  <p>

Heyward is in good position to be elected to this year’s All-Star Game and if he is, he may at least fly to Anaheim to participate in the festivities.  But at the same time, he is wondering if it would be better for him to spend those days playing in some Minor League games. 

 “Whatever (Major League Baseball) says they would like to have happen.  If I can go and give thanks to the fans by showing up, then I would like to.  If MLB says we respect what the Braves want for Jason and they want him to rehab and play some games before he comes back, then I’m hoping to do that also.”

It would be nice for Heyward to at least fly to California to experience the Home Run Derby/Media Day festivities on July 12 and then at least be introduced before the Midsummer Classic, which will be played the following day at Angel Stadium.

But you have to like the fact that the young outfielder is already looking toward the second half with the understanding that he could benefit from a brief Minor League rehab assignment before returning. 

One solution and I’m simply thinking out loud is to have him enjoy those two days in California and then return on a red-eye flight to prepare to begin a two-game Minor League rehab stint on July 14.  This would mean he wouldn’t be available for the July 15 game against the Brewers.

But that’s just one game that can be won without him. Heyward will never again have a chance to experience the thrill of experiencing his first All-Star Game as a 20-year-old rookie. 

Or maybe Heyward’s thumb improves quickly enough that he is actually able to start rehabbing the weekend before the All-Star Game.  This would allow him to reacquaint himself with the speed of the game and still participate in the All-Star festivities. 

After Monday night’s win, the Braves also announced that Kenshin Kawakami will go to the bullpen when Jair Jurrjens returns to the rotation on Monday night. 

Matt Diaz will take Heyward’s roster spot tomorrow night.  When Jurrjens is activated, the Braves will likely send Cristhian Martinez  back to Gwinnett.  Martinez has been available to serve the long relief role that Kawakami could now fill.   

Long losing streak has not killed postseason hopes

One horrid nine-game stretch in April does not define the path that a Major League club is destined to travel over the course of a 162-game season.  But as the Braves attempt to snap a nine-game losing streak against the Astros tonight, they can’t escape the fact that many are already asking, “are they really this bad.”   

Just seven days have passed since I last sat in this Turner Field press box with the belief that a slumbering offense would soon awake and direct the Braves toward a pennant race in September.   Yes 47-year-old Jamie Moyer had just baffled the Atlanta bats in a frustrating manner.   But such an event is deemed just a bump in the road when the calendar still rests on April 22.   

Now on April 30, just 10 days since the Braves constructed their consecutive back-to-back walk-off victories, manager Bobby Cox returned to Turner Field without much reason to laugh.   Coming off a winless seven-game road trip, he is among the many who have to wonder if his club’s nine-game losing streak is a fluke or a sign of things to come.  

As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog, this is essentially unchartered territory for Cox.   The only 10-game losing streak he has experienced during his long managerial career began with a loss to the Astros on June 11, 2006.  Horacio Ramirez was drilled in the head with a Lance Berkman liner that afternoon and as the Braves left Houston that afternoon they learned their flight to Ft. Lauderdale would include the bumps caused by a nearby hurricane.   

This prompted Chipper Jones to say something like, “The hits keep coming…I suggest staying as far away from the Atlanta Braves as you can now.”

Jones’ playful comment was made at the beginning of a 10-game skid and in the midst of a 23-game stretch that included just three victories.   

During that 10-game losing streak, the Braves hit .256 and saw their pitching staff post a 6.10 ERA.   Within this current nine-game losing streak,, the Braves have batted .223 and compiled a .188 (12-for-64)batting average with runners in scoring position.   The pitchers have posted a 5.20 ERA.  

When asked Friday afternoon, Jones said he did not remember the emotions he felt during that 10-game skid from four years ago.  But he later said, “I’m pretty sure this club is much better than that one.”  

On the charter flight back from St. Louis last night, many of the players dealt with the shock caused by the frustrating road trip.  When some mentioned that things needed to change before the front office decided to start making changes, Jones said, “I like the guys on this team far too much to let us reach a point where some of these guys are getting traded.”  

During this conversation, Troy Glaus mentioned that  the 2002 Angels club that he was a part of started the season with the same 8-14 mark that the Braves carry into Friday night’s series opener against the Astros.  That  Angels club won the World Series six months later.  

Last year there were three postseason participants  —  Twins (11-11), Angels (9-13) Rockies (9-13)  —  who didn’t have a winning record through the season’s first 22 games.    During the 2007 season, three of the National League’s four playoff participants   —  Phillies (10-12), Cubs (9-13) and Rockies (9-13) —  fell into this same category.  

En route to six of their 14 most recent division titles, the Braves had a non-winning record through the first 22 games.   But their only losing record within this category came in 2001, when they won 10 of their first 22 games.  

Given a chance to face Brett Myers, who is 0-3 with a 6.53 ERA in his past four starts against Atlanta, during tonight’s series opener, the Braves seemingly have a good opportunity to begin this homestand in auspicious fashion.   

Because they’ve dug themselves in an early hole, the Braves have made this 162-game journey much more challenging.  But at the same time history has shown that one horrible week can’t solely determine where a team stands in October.

Injury front:  With an offday on Monday, the Braves plan to push Jair Jurrjens’ next start back to May 8.  Jurrjens strained his hamstring during Thursday’s game and was still feeling some tightness on Friday afternoon…Yunel Escobar will be evaluated on a day-to-day basis with his strained left adductor muscle.   Escobar has missed 3-5 days when he has battled this injury in the past. 


Will today be better than Opening Day?

Our friend Buster Olney concludes all of his blog entries with the phrase, “and today will be better than yesterday.” 

As I was driving to the stadium this afternoon through that green mist that is only satisfying to the manufacturers of Claritin, I was thinking it will be pretty difficult for Braves fans to exit Turner Field tonight with the same kind of excitement that was created on Opening Day. 

But with Mr. Heyward in the house you can bet it won’t be long before we see something special again. 

When Heyward drilled his three-run homer with the first swing of his Major League career on Monday, I was among the many who immediately felt chills going down my spine.  My immediate reaction was that Turner Field hadn’t been filled with that kind of energy since Brian McCann took Roger Clemens deep with his first career postseason at-bat in Game 2 of the 2005 Division Series. 

Still if I’m ranking the single greatest moments that I’ve witnessed since I assumed this beat in 2001, Heyward’s homer has to trump McCann’s.   Jeff Francoeur’s homer in his Major League debut was pretty special.  But the energy wasn’t quite the same because he wasn’t playing in front of a packed house. 

When we reminisce about Monday afternoon, we’ll always remember Heyward’s blast.  But long before he sent Carlos Zambrano’s 2-0 fastball into the Braves bullpen, you could definitely feel a sense of excitement that hasn’t been present in these parts the past few years.

Maybe it was because this was the first Opening Day home game since 2004.  Or maybe Heyward has already created the same kind of effect that Michael Vick had during the early part of this century when he seemingly single-handedly made the Georgia Dome the place to be on Sundays in the fall. 

Or maybe, the fans have simply taken notice of the fact that this seems to be the best team the Braves have assembled since at least the 2003 season.  And if I’m comparing the two teams, I’d have to say there’s no doubt that this team’s pitching staff is better than that one that benefited from the regular power that Javy Lopez, Vinny Castilla, Gary Sheffield and Co. supplied on ’03. 

With the momentum created by their Opening Day victory, the Braves will now send their top three pitchers to the mound over the next three days.  Jair Jurrjens gets the call tonight and will be opposed by Cubs right-hander Ryan Dempster. 

Yesterday, when I was compiling a story about Jurrjens and Tommy Hanson, who will start Thursday night’s series finale against the Cubs, I found it interesting that Jurrjens and Tom Glavine had compiled a nearly identical workload through each of the seasons completed before they turned 24 years old. 

Glavine  23-29   72 starts  431.2 IP  4.29 ERA
Jurrjens  30-21  72 starts  434 IP  3.21 ERA

Jurrjens’ better record is a product of the fact that he has started his career with the benefit of being on teams much stronger than the ones that Glavine was a part of during his early years.  But this still seems to be yet another comparison that proves that the young right-hander from Curacao could be headed toward a very bright future.

TONIGHT’S LINEUP vs. Cubs RHP Ryan Dempster

Melky Cabrera 7
Martin Prado 4
Chipper Jones 5
Brian McCann 2
Troy Glaus 3
Yunel Escobar 6
Jason Heyward 9
Nate McLouth 8
Jurrjens 1 

Jurrjens survives Minor League test

This certainly wasn’t the kind of performance Jair Jurrjens is hoping to provide when he takes the mound to face the Cubs at Turner Field on April 7. 

But after allowing a pair of runs and plunking a couple of the Tigers Minor Leaguers that he faced at Disney on Monday afternoon, the Braves right-hander still seemed pretty satisfied with the effectiveness of the slider that he displayed with great regularity.

More importantly, he was once again able to extend his shoulder a little further without feeling any of the discomfort that was present during the early days of camp.  

“Right now, I’m not worried about how many runs I give up,” Jurrjens said. “I’m just working on the quality of my pitches and getting ready for the season.” 

Forced to pitch in this Triple-A Minor League game because his scheduled start on Sunday was rained out, Jurrjens allowed two hits and five earned runs in four innings.  He threw 36 of his 55 pitches for strikes, hit two batters and didn’t issue a walk. 

“Any pitcher I’ve ever known gets killed when they pitch in these (Minor League) games,” Braves manager Bobby Cox said. “JJ was fine.  He looked really good in the second inning.  His velocity was there and he got to throw all of his pitches.” 

Jurrjens’ first pitch was drilled to left field by Danny Worth and six pitches later Casper Wells was drilled by a wayward fastball.  Brennan Boesch delivered an RBI double to the right-center field gap before the Braves hurler completed the first inning with the second of the seven flyouts that he recorded on the afternoon. 

While facing the bottom three hitters in the Tigers lineup, Jurrjens worked a perfect second inning that included two of his three strikeouts.  His third-inning troubles began when he got ahead with an 0-2 count and then hit his second batter of the afternoon. 

Three batters later Boesch tallied his second RBI with the second of consecutive two-out singles surrendered by Jurrjens, who was one pitch away from a perfect fourth before surrendering a two-out double on a 3-2 fastball that had “I don’t want to issue a walk” written all over it.

Jurrjens will make two more starts during the exhibition season and when he takes the mound to face the Nationals on Saturday, he said he plans to approach the outing like he would a normal start. 

In other words, we won’t be seeing him test his slider as much as he did this afternoon against the Tigers Minor Leaguers.   

Bullpen picture becomes clearer on a cloudy Sunday

With ominous rain clouds hovering around the Disney area this morning, Jair Jurrjens and Nate Mclouth may have to alter today’s plans.

But it now appears that Mother Nature may cooperate until at least 2 p.m. ET.  This would likely allow Jurrjens the chance to complete the four innings that he is scheduled to pitch against the Cardinals today.  

If rain prevents the Braves and Cardinals from playing this afternoon, Jurrjens would get his work in during a Minor League game tomorrow. 

Because the Braves slated each of their pitchers to have at least one extra day of rest before their first regular season start, Jurrjens would still be on a normal schedule leading up to his season debut on April 7 against the Cubs. 

Speaking of Minor League games, McLouth was originally slated to bat eighth during this afternoon’s game against the Cardinals.  But the Braves decided it would be better to have him head to one of the back fields today to rack up some at-bats against Minor Leaguers.

If this Minor League game is played, McLouth would be able to compile nine at-bats (one per inning) and possibly get out of the funk that has led him to record just one hit and 14 strikeouts in his first 35 at-bats this year. 

If Mother Nature prevents play today, McLouth could certainly attempt to compile these at-bats during the same Minor League game that Jurrjens would be pitching in tomorrow.

Second round of cuts:  The battle for the final two available spots in the Braves bullpen lost a few candidates this morning, when it was revealed that right-hander Jeff Lyman and left-handers Mike Dunn and Mariano Gomez will spend the rest of camp on the Minor League side. 

Dunn and Lyman were optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett.  Gomez was among four players re-assigned to Minor League camp. The others were catcher Orlando Mercado and outfielders Mitch Jones and Brent Clevlen.

While Dunn showed the strong arm the Braves knew they were getting when they acquired him as part of the deal that sent Javier Vazquez to the Yankees, he also displayed the inconsistent command that has been present since he ended his days as a position player at the conclusion of the 2006 season.

“Dunn has that good arm,” Cox said. “He just needs more command of that fastball.  He rushes out there a little too much.  It’s just a matter of command.” 

Lyman, who allowed one run and recorded five strikeouts in four innings, also impressed Cox during his first big league camp. 

But as we move forward, it now appears that the battle for the final two bullpen spots will be waged between Scott Proctor, Jesse Chavez,  Craig Kimbrel, Jonny Venters, Jo-Jo Reyes and Manny Acosta.

It still seems optimistic to think that Proctor, who is just 10 1/2 months removed from Tommy John surgery, would be ready by Opening Day. Cox understands that the veteran right-hander wouldn’t be available on a regular basis during the early weeks of the season.

But with some scheduled offdays present during this two-week stretch, Cox is still at least keeping this possibility alive. 

Assuming that Proctor begins the season on the disabled list, Chavez, Venters and Reyes could be deemed the front-runners in this competition.  Kimbrel undoubtedly has the greatest upside and it’s obvious that Cox really likes this young flamethower.

But Kimbrel could benefit from a little more Minor League seasoning and the Braves would have reason to be reluctant to open a 40-man roster spot for him with the understanding that he might be sent back down when Proctor is deemed ready. 

Chavez has pitched more effectively since struggling in his first two outings and has the experience that he gained while making 73 appearances for the Pirates last year.

Venters or Reyes would team with Eric O’Flaherty to give the Braves two left-handed options during the middle innings. 

With the lack of depth in the starting pitching department, it still would seemingly benefit the Braves to have Reyes start the year with Gwinnett and be stretched out in the event that one of Atlanta’s starting pitchers goes down with an injury.

While Kris Medlen would be available to make a spot start or fill a vacant rotation spot for an extended stretch, you could argue that his move into a starter’s role weakens the depth that could benefit the Braves as they attempt to protect the arms of Billy Wagner, Takashi Saito and Proctor. 

Still with Reyes pitching just one inning in his past two outings, it seems the Braves are seriously thinking about having him begin the year in Atlanta’s bullpen. 

Cox has routinely praised Venters’ sinker and history has shown that he likes to have a pitcher (think Kevin Gryboski) like this available to utilize when there’s a need to erase a threat with a double-play groundout. 

BRAVES LINEUP vs. Cardinals

Cabrera 8
Prado 4
Chipper 5
McCann 2
Glaus 5
Escobar 6
Heyward 9
Blanco 8
Jurrjens 1 


Coach Glav transforms into Glav the broadcaster

Tom Glavine has arrived and he’s ready to enter the broadcasting world.  The 300-game winner will  call this afternoon’s game against the Marlins with Joe Simpson.  The game can be seen on MLB.TV, MLB Network and SportSouth.

Thumbnail image for 031610 glavine.JPG 

This photo was taken about 30 minutes before Glavine was scheduled to be on the field for a pregame feature.  When asked if he was going to wear the uniform in the broadcast booth or make a quick change Glavine said, “yeah, like Superman.”

Showing the same calm, cool demeanor that existed throughout his career, Glavine didn’t exactly rush over to the main field to prepare for the broadcast.  Instead, he took time to watch Scott Proctor toss live batting practice for a second straight day.

With the back-to-back hurdle cleared, Proctor is looking forward to making his Grapefruit League season debut on Friday night against the Tigers.  The veteran reliever, who is coming back from Tommy John surgery, could join the Atlanta bullpen some time in April.  

Glavine will travel south tomorrow when the Braves begin their annual two-game swing in Jupiter.  Wednesday’s game against the Marlins will also be televised and provided by the same aforementioned outlets.  But Thursday afternoon’s game against the Cardinals will not be televised. 

While in Braves camp this week, Glavine will get used to some of the broadcasting duties he will handle this upcoming season and also take advantage of the chance to don the Braves uniform and work with some of the club’s young pitchers. 

In other words, he’ll be preparing for some of the same duties he will possess this season.  While hit title is special assistant to the team president, Glavine will essentially be a jack of all trades this year as he attempts to determine what kind of role he would like to focus on in the future.

After sending this entry originally, I received an email from TBS that revealed John Smoltz will serve as one of their analysts for their weekly national broadcasts.  But more importantly, it sounds like he will team with Simpson to serve as an analyst for the Braves games carried by Peachtree Television this year.

There has been a wealth of pitching knowledge floating around Braves camp recently.  While broadcaster Don Sutton isn’t currently present, Phil Niekro arrived this morning and will stick around for the remainder of the week.

Glavine, Niekro and Sutton stand as three of the 24 pitchers in Major League history to notch 300 career victories.  

Today’s broadcast will allow you to watch Jason Heyward get his first look at Marlins ace Josh Johnson.  But the day’s storylines from a Braves perspective will focus on Takashi Saito’s attempt to rebound from two rough performances and Jair Jurrjens, who will look to duplicate the success he had on Friday, when he debuted with two scoreless against the Pirates 

Jurrjens hasn’t recently felt any discomfort in his shoulder and there isn’t really much reason to consume yourself with worry about him experiencing problems throughout the season.  But it will still be interesting to see how he feels after attempting to complete three innings (or throw approximately 50 pitches) today.

Saito’s problem during his first two outings stemmed from his inability to keep his pitches down.  The Braves don’t seem to be worried yet.  But a third consecutive rough outing from the 40-year-old reliever may provide even more reason to believe Peter Moylan could actually serve as Billy Wagner’s primary setup man for a majority of this season.  

NOTES:   After Tuesday night’s 5-2 win over the Nationals, Bobby Cox jokingly said, “Heyward has his worst game down here and still got on base two times.”   The 20-year-old right fielder recorded a broken-bat infield single in the first inning and later drew his seventh walk (28 plate appearances) of this exhibition season.

* Nate McLouth’s struggles continued last night as he went 0-for-3 and saw his batting average drop to .040 (1-for-25).  But if you’re stretching for a sign of optimism, he did put the ball in play during each of his three plate appearances. 

McLouth, who has struck out a Major League-high 10 times, has said that he has come to realize that something usually clicks during a certain at-bat during Spring Training. We’ll see Thursday if the ball he hit to deep center in the third inning on Tuesday night was a sign of better things to come.

*’s Martin Gandy has prepared a book appropriately titled “Talking Chop 2010 Annual.”  This book reviews the 2009 season, previews 2010 and provides a comprehensive look at the organization’s most significant players.

Those interested in purchasing or learning more about this book can go to Gandy’s blog or just click here. 

 * The Braves will hold an Open House at Turner Field on Sat. March 27 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. ET.  Fans will have a chance to run the bases, throw in the bullpen, enjoy many of the stadium’s interactive entertainment options and view some of the seats available via season ticket packages.  They are advertising one full-season package that costs $249 ($3 per game).

Today’s Braves lineup vs. Marlins
Cabrera 8
Heyward 9
Chipper 5
Glaus 3
Diaz 7
Infante 4
Ross 2
Hicks 6
Jurrjens 1


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