Results tagged ‘ Jo-Jo Reyes ’
It’s hockey night in Pittsburgh and the fans are truly showing their colors. Actually, some are wearing the modern black Penguins jerseys and a handful of others are sporting the blue ones that the club wore during the pre-Mario Lemieux days.
Whatever the case, I’d have to say close to 50 percent of the people I saw walking the streets this afternoon were wearing Penguins jerseys. I didn’t see a Pirates jersey until Adam LaRoche and his buddies came out to take batting practice here at beautiful PNC Park.
Speaking of LaRoche, the former Braves first baseman has at least delayed his traditional slow start by recording 10 hits, including three homers in his first 34 at-bats this year. Considering that he owned a .181 career batting average in April entering this year, it’s safe to say that he’s enjoying this early production.
LaRoche’s buddy Chipper Jones is once again out of the lineup with a bruised left thumb. The Braves third baseman has been encouraged by the fact that the swelling has decreased and he’s hoping to return to action during Sunday afternoon’s series finale against the Buccos.
“The swelling is getting better,” Jones said. “But (the trainers) were rubbing it down today and it’s still extremely painful.”
Having already aggravated this injury multiple times by getting jammed with pitches, Jones recognizes the importance of resting the thumb as long as necessary. The bottom line is that he doesn’t want to deal with this throughout the season.
“If I came back too early and did it again, I’d have to miss another three to four days,” Jones said. “I just want to make sure we get it right.”
As for Yunel Escobar, he could be back to his jumping ways as early as Saturday. When Escobar strained his abdominal muscle while doing his traditional pre at-bat jumping routine in the on-deck circle Thursday, the Braves thought he might miss three to four games.
But Escobar took some swings in the indoor batting cage on Friday and didn’t experience any concerning discomfort.
Forget about the possibility of this episode leading Escobar to end his jumping days in the on-deck. The talented shortstop is as stubborn as they come.
When Jo-Jo Reyes takes the mound to face the Pirates on Saturday, you’ll likely see a pitcher that doesn’t resemble the one who went 0-7 with a 7.81 ERA in his final 13 appearances (12 starts) last year.
Reyes has grown comfortable with the fact that he doesn’t have to attempt to overpower every hitter. The more efficient 23-year-old southpaw impressed during Spring Training and tossed five solid innings before struggling through a rain-drenched sixth inning during his regular season debut for Triple-A Gwinnett last week.
Reversing back to the LaRoche-Jones connection, the two former Braves teammates have become heavily involved with the Buck Commander videos that are produced by noted hunter Willie Robertston.
With assistance from their good friend Luke Bryan, the guys developed this video that shows them enjoying some of their hunting experiences.
As you know, it’s not wise to put much stock in Spring Training statistics. But it’s hard to ignore what the Braves pitchers have been doing over the past week.
During the five games that preceded this afternoon’s contest against the Phillies, Braves starters had worked 19 2/3 innings, surrendered eight hits, allowed two earned runs, recorded 18 strikeouts and issued six walks. Before you grab your calculator, that equates to a 0.92 ERA.
The 2.83 ERA the Braves pitching staff has compiled during Grapefruit League play is almost one run better than any other National League team. In addition, Roger McDowell’s pitchers still haven’t surrendered a homer. (Now that Rother has declared that I’ve placed a jinx on Jo-Jo Reyes this afternoon, I’ll point out that every other NL team has surrendered at least six homers during this exhibition season.)
It will be nearly impossible for Reyes to duplicate the dominant performance Derek Lowe produced while not allowing the Astros to hit the ball out of the infield yesterday. But if the young left-hander continues to pitch like he has during his three previous Grapefruit League appearances, the Braves will have even more reason to believe he’s turned the corner.
Reyes, who went 0-7 with a 7.81 ERA in his final 13 appearances (12 starts) last year, has surrendered one run in nine GL innings. During his past two outings, he has worked seven scoreless innings, surrendered two hits and issued three walks.
Realizing that there likely won’t be an available rotation spot for him in Atlanta to start the year, Reyes has had reason to seem more relaxed than he was last year, when he often panicked when he encountered potentially-damaging situations.
If he continues to pitch effectively, Reyes could certainly prove to be a benefit in Atlanta this year. The Braves want Tommy Hanson to continue his maturation process in the Minors during the early portion of this season. If another starter is needed before Hanson is deemed ready, Reyes or Jorge Campillo would be the most likely candidates to move into Bobby Cox’s rotation.
Schafer returns: Jordan Schafer, who has been sidelined since Feb. 28 with a sprained left shoulder, is back in the lineup today. Both Cox and general manger Frank Wren said there is still plenty of time for Schafer to make the center field battle interesting. But it still appears Josh Anderson is clearly the favorite in that battle.
Anderson update: The Braves still aren’t sure when Garret Anderson might be able to return. But once again, Cox said he’s hopeful that the veteran outfielder will be in his Opening Day lineup.
Yunel Escobar SS
Jordan Schafer CF
Kelly Johnson 2B
Greg Norton 1B
Jeff Francoeur RF
Matt Diaz LF
Diory Hernandez 3B
Clint Sammons C