Results tagged ‘ Martin Prado ’

Second week of camp begins

Martin Prado has been one of the first players to arrive at the stadium during Spring Training and he has always been the last to leave this year.  To Brian McCann and those who have known Prado throughout his professional career, this simply isn’t a surprise. 

“You’re not going to find a guy who works harder than him,” McCann said early Monday morning. 

Strength and conditioning coach Phil Falco could only nod his head when he was asked if he basically has to tell Prado that it’s time to leave the weight room.

But Prado has never seemed to believe enough is enough until the late afternoon hours arrive.  Like clockwork, he has been leaving the Spring Training headquarters around 2:45 p.m. ET, or approximately 90 minutes after most of his teammates. 

Prado spent the past two Spring Trainings inspired by the belief that he had to fight for a roster spot.  This year, he’s fighting to prove he can make the quick transition to left field and continue to be the dependable offensive contributor that he has been the past couple of years.

He has spent most of his time focusing on taking fly balls in left field.  But with the realization that he will eventually move back to the infield (this year or within the next couple of seasons), he has also continued to take grounders with Chipper Jones at third base.

PradChip.JPGSpeaking of Chipper, he has had two good days since his surgically-repaired left knee proved to be sore during Saturday’s workout.  As mentioned multiple times, he’s going to have good days and he’s going to have bad days. 

The Braves can only hope that once the middle of March rolls around there are few mentions about his knee. 

Manager Fredi Gonzalez said he isn’t ready to announce his Opening Day starter.  But it seems quite obvious that he will choose either Tim Hudson or Derek Lowe, who has made both of the previous Opening Day starts for the Braves.

With this being said, Gonzalez said he will reveal his Grapefruit League rotation tomorrow.  This might provide at least some clue whether Hudson or Lowe will be on the mound for Opening Day in D.C.  

Prado will miss the remainder of the season

Martin Prado will miss the remainder of the season.  Results from an MRI exam performed Tuesday afternoon revealed that he has a torn left oblique muscle.

This was damaging news for the Braves who already were prepared to be without him for a week or two while he recovered from a left hip pointer suffered during Monday night’s win over the Marlins.  The oblique strain will require at least two months of rehab. 

With Prado sidelined, the Braves will use Brooks Conrad as their primary third baseman. Diory Hernandez would serve as the next best defensive option at third.  Troy Glaus and Eric Hinske could play the hot corner in an emergency situation. 

Prado seemingly suffered the hip pointer and oblique strain while going across his body and leaping to grab Dan Uggla’s fourth-inning line drive in the fifth inning of Monday night’s win over the Marlins.

One inning later Prado landed on his hip again and slowly rose to his feet.  During the bottom of the fifth, he hit a chopper back to the mound and then went to the ground after taking just a step or two out of the batter’s box.    

Prado activated from the disabled list

Martin Prado has been activated from the disabled list and placed in the Braves starting lineup for Tuesday night’s game against the Nationals. 

Prado will bat third and play third base during this series opener against the Nationals.  The All-Star second baseman had been sidelined since July 30 with a fractured right pinky finger. 

With Chipper Jones out with a season-ending knee injury, Prado could serve as the Braves primary third baseman for the remainder of the season.  Over the past two seasons, many within the organization have said this is the position that best satisfies his defensive skills. 

Prado went 1-for-4 while playing a rehab game for Triple-A Gwinnett Monday night.

TONIGHT’S LINEUP

Infante 4
Heyward 9
Prado 5
Diaz 7
Glaus 3
Gonzalez 6
Cabrera 8
Ross 2
Minor 1 

Who should fill the three-hole when Prado returns?

When the Braves needed a leadoff hitter in May, Martin Prado stepped in and filled the role in stellar fashion.  Now that they need a three-hole hitter, he’s once again a primary candidate to fill this role.

There has been reason to believe that Jason Heyward would eventually force himself into the three-hole at some point this season.  But while opting to bat Alex Gonzalez third and keep Heyward in the two-hole during this series against the  Dodgers, Bobby Cox has showed he’s not quite ready to give the phenom this role.

Heyward, who has missed three of the past five games because of a sore right knee, is back in the lineup tonight.  When asked about the ailment yesterday, he essentially said he just wants to make sure he’s healthy and strong down the stretch. 

As the Braves head down the stretch without Chipper Jones, they’re going to need Heyward to move away from his rookie inconsistencies and regain the form that he had while belting 10 homers and compiling a 1.017 OPS through the first 46 games of his career. 

When Heyward batted .389 with a .992 OPS in the first 14 games he played coming out of the All-Star break, he provided indication that he was no longer bothered by the right thumb injury that plagued him throughout June and sidelined him during July’s first two weeks. 

But while hitting .140 and striking out 10 times in his past 43 at-bats, Heyward has provided the reminder that he just celebrated his 21st birthday last week.  There’s no doubt that he and Brian McCann are still the most intimidating figures in the Chipper-less lineup.  But at the same time, the kid is still gaining the experience necessary for to find success in this three-hole for many years to come.

Instead of putting added pressure on Heyward, it might make more sense to put Prado in the three-hole when he returns to the lineup during this week’s series against the Nationals (I’m guessing he’ll be playing in Tuesday’s series opener).

Well it does, until you look at the fact that Prado has hit .242 with runners in scoring position this year. Making matters worse, he has hit a team-worst .156 w/RISP dating back to May 30.

Meanwhile Omar Infante has hit .338 w/RISP this year.  This hasn’t been a fluke.  Since the start of the 2008 season, Infante has also hit .338 w/ RISP  — the seventh-best mark among all Major Leaguers with at least 200 plate appearances in this situation during this span.

While showing increased power with the six homers he hit during the 19 games played before he fractured his right pinky, Prado hit just .250 with a .305 on-base percentage.  In his absence, Omar Infante has provided the kind of production you would want from a leadoff hitter. 

Infante has hit .378 with a .403 on-base percentage in his past 17 games (all starts) and .360 with a .380 OBP over the course of his past 55 games (40 starts).  Throw in the fact that he has the ability to occasionally steal a base and it’s easier to see why I think he would be the better option to bat leadoff in the Chipper-less lineups that will be constructed the rest of this season.    

So Prado possesses the power potential you would want in the three-hole and lacks the speed you would want at the top of the order. Infante possesses the clutch hitting potential you want in the third spot of the lineup and lacks the power. 

With all this being said, it only makes sense to give Brooks Conrad an everyday role, right?  I mean he has homered seven times in 112 at-bats and batted .324 w/RISP this year.  If he continues to thrill in the late innings, Webster’s will soon place his picture beside the word “clutch.”

Now that I’ve allowed loyal blogger “billreef” to get excited, I’ll return to reality and confirm that I realize that now is not the time to place a 30-year-old with 185 career at-bats in the third spot of the lineup of a team with World Series aspirations.

In some ways, I think Heyward is still the best option to place in the third spot of the lineup.  But with Brian McCann continuing to struggle against left-handers this would leave the Braves susceptible to be doomed by late-inning matchups against top left-handed relievers. 

So I say give Prado a chance to further enhance his team MVP credentials by proving that he can end his RISP struggles while hitting in the third spot of the lineup.  His presence there would at least allow Cox to alternate left-handed and right-handed hitters through his lineup.

Here’s how tonight’s lineup looks:

Infante 4
Heyward 9
Gonzalez 6
McCann 2
Glaus 3
Conrad 5
Ankiel 8
Cabrera 7
Hanson 1
  

 

Chipper returns to Turner Field to see injury-ravaged lineup

chipreturns.JPG
So far so good for Chipper Jones.  Now he can only hope that the next six months provided the kind of encouragement he’s gained in the 24 hours that have followed the season-ending surgical procedure that was performed on his left knee Saturday. 

Supported by crutches and displaying a heavily wrapped left leg, Jones returned to Turner Field for Sunday afternoon’s game.  He was planning to wait until Monday to return.  But a rough night of sleep led him to come back to the Ted with the hope of encouraging his teammates and providing himself some sanity.

As he expected Jones feels much better than he did in 1994 when his left ACL was repaired via an intrusive surgical process.  The arthroscopic surgery that he underwent yesterday allowed him to awake Sunday with the hope that he might be able to start riding a stationary bike as soon as Monday.

Jones said the pain pill he took before going to bed Saturday night didn’t knock him out like he’d hoped.  But this wasn’t too surprising.  I’ve got a feeling some of you might have also had trouble sleeping after watching the Braves offense struggle through the first two games of this series.

Without Martin Prado and Jones, this lineup has proven to be rather weak.  It was further weakened Sunday, when Jason Heyward was given a chance to further rest the sore right knee that sidelined him Tuesday and Wednesday. 

Heyward said he expects to be back in the lineup for Monday night’s series finale against the Dodgers. 

As for Prado, he took batting practice again on Sunday and seemed ready to play a rehab game for Triple-A Gwinnett Monday night.  While the All-Star second baseman has been sidelined since July with a fractured right pinky, the Braves have batted .217 and compiled a .302 on-base percentage.

This explains why the Braves are planning for Prado to play just one rehab game.  They are hoping that he’ll be ready to be activated for Tuesday night’s series opener against the Nationals.  

Ugly RISP stat: The Braves have managed to go 11-10 while hitting  just .182 (33-for-181) with runners in scoring position dating back to July 23.   

  

 

Prado encouraged by latest round of BP

Martin Prado provided some encouraging health-related news today when he was able to take batting practice without feeling the discomfort that was present 24 hours earlier.   He is hoping to play a rehab game with Triple-A Gwinnett Monday and then return to the Atlanta lineup within a day or two after that. 

Yesterday Prado said that he was somewhat concerned about the accuracy he would have while making throws from third base.  But now that his fractured right pinky has shown some signs of improvement, he doesn’t seem to concerned about this. 

Braves manager Bobby Cox said Saturday that he would allow Prado and Omar Infante to decide whether they want to be positioned at second base or third base. 

Prado has long been considered to be the best defensive option at third base.  But since the start of Spring Training, Brooks Conrad has given every reason to believe he’d be just as dependable at the hot corner. 

If the Braves want to keep Prado at second base, they could utilize both Infante and Conrad at third base.  This would at least allow them to continue gaining some of the value provided by Infante’s ability to be available to play multiple positions. 

Notes:  Eric O’Flaherty will make his second rehab appearance for Gwinnett Sunday.  O’Flaherty said that he felt strong while pitching a scoreless inning for the G-Braves Friday night…Chipper Jones had his torn ACL surgically repaired Saturday morning and then spent the rest of the day resting at his suburban Atlanta home…Billy Wagner entered Saturday five strikeouts shy of Jesse Orosco’s Major League record for left-handed relievers.  Wagner also needs just 10 more saves to match John Franco’s MLB record for left-handed relievers.  

Chipper still weighing options about his future

Chipper-Jones.gif
When I sat down to write this blog, my plan was to take the angle that Chipper Jones will at least attempt to return next season.  But it appears to be too early to make this kind of assumption. 

Jones’ father Larry Jones told the Florida Times-Union, “Those people that are talking about him being done,he ain’t done.”  Those who know Chipper best realize that this isn’t the way he wants to say goodbye to his Hall of Fame-caliber career.  At the same time, I’ll count myself among those of you who believe he deserves a much more fitting goodbye. 

But before committing himself to the grueling six-month rehab process that he would face, Jones will first take time to talk to members of the Braves medical staff this afternoon to gain a better sense of what he is facing. 

Because this is the second time that Jones has torn the ACL in his left knee, it will be more difficult to find the graft needed to fix the ligament.   His left patellar tendon (kneecap) is no longer an option.  It was used to repair the ligament, when he suffered this same injury before the start of the 1994 season.

If they were to use his right patellar tendon, he would enter the 2011 season with two faulty knees and possibly set himself up to endure many more problems during his post-playing days.

Once Jones learns of all of his options and the potential setbacks, he’ll have the opportunity to determine whether it’s in his best interest to attempt to continue playing. 

When he was talking about retirement in June, he said that he would walk away if he felt he was no longer an integral part of the lineup.  Over the past two months, he proved that he still had the capability to be a key ingredient to the Braves success. 

But you can’t blame Jones for wondering whether he’ll be able to return from this surgery and still be able to provide his desired production next year at the age of 39.

chipper-237x300.jpg 

 
What to do: When asked yesterday about how he planned to react to the fact that Chipper Jones won’t be available for the remainder of this season, Braves general manager Frank Wren attempted to soften the blow by pointing out that manager Bobby Cox can now put two All-Stars in his infield on a daily basis. 

“When we get Martin Prado back, it will mean inserting two All-Stars into the lineup, he and Omar Infante,” Wren said.  “I’m not sure we’ll find anything better than that on the marketplace.”

The Marlins are planning to sign Dan Uggla to a multi-year deal.  In other words, if they were to trade him to the Braves, we’d probably soon be seeing Julio Teheran sitting in the same starting rotation as Josh Johnson.

The Braves talked to the Mariners about trading for Chone Figgins before the July 31 trade deadline.  At the time, they were hoping Seattle’s Japanese ownership might be willing to deal their bad contract for the one that has padded Kenshin Kawakami’s bank account. 

With former manager Don Wakamatsu gone, Figgins is happy and proving to be productive at the plate once again.  At the same time, with Kris Medlen done for the rest of the season, the Braves are no longer in a position where they can trade the insurance that Kawakami provides.

There have been rumors linking the Braves to Orioles third baseman Ty Wigginton.  But early indications are that the Braves aren’t going to add an everyday player via trade. 

But with Diory Hernandez and Brandon Hicks now situated to serve as the only backup shortstops, it seems they do have a need to at least find a better option to fill this role that Infante has capably handled since arriving in Atlanta.

While hitting .366 (41-for-112) in the 32 games (24 starts) he’s played dating back to the start of July, Infante has provided further reason to believe he could be a reliable everyday player.  But the sole reason he was given this All-Star status was the fact that his greatest value comes from his ability to be available to play a number of different positions. 

With Prado playing third base and Infante playing second base during the season’s final six weeks, the Braves have reason to believe they would still have a solid infield.  But if either of these guys or Alex Gonzalez suffers an injury, there will be a gaping hole in the lineup.    

Prado placed on the 15-day DL

Instead of playing a man short over the course of the next week, the Braves have determined to place Martin Prado on the 15-day disabled list.  The All-Star second baseman fractured his right pinky finger while completing a head-first slide toward the plate in Friday’s win over the Reds. 

After examining Prado again Monday, the Braves determined that it would likely be at least another week before he was strong enough to grip a bat with his right hand again.   Thus they decided to disable him and promote Diory Hernandez from Triple-A Gwinnett to serve as a backup infielder.

“If he was only going to be out a couple of days, we could wait,” Braves manager Bobby Cox said. “But I don’t think it would be good if he’s going to be out for like 10 days.”  

Prado said his finger was feeling a little better Monday.  He took some swings off the batting tee using only his left arm and shagged fly balls during batting practice.    The Braves remain hopeful that he will be ready to return to action when he’s eligible to be activated on Aug. 15.  

While Prado is sidelined, Omar Infante will serve as the leadoff hitter and starting second baseman.   

Prado will miss at least a week

The Braves seemingly got some good news Saturday, when they determined that Martin Prado has a fractured right pinky finger that may cause him to miss just seven-to-10 games. 

Braves manager Bobby Cox said he will wait at least another day before determining whether Prado will be placed on the disabled list.  Once the All-Star second baseman proves he can grip a bat, he’ll be cleared to begin swinging again.

“If anybody can get back in the lineup quickly, it’s him,” Cox said of Prado, who suffered the fracture while sliding head first toward the plate during the 10th inning of Friday night’s win over the Reds. 

The Braves have technically called Prado’s injury a stable avulsion fracture of PIP joint of his right pinky finger. 

Infante gains surprise selection

When we awoke this morning, I think it’s safe to say most of us expected Jason Heyward, Martin Prado and Tim Hudson to be named to this year’s All-Star team.  There was also little shock when the players provided Brian McCann his fifth consecutive All-Star selection.

But the biggest surprise and thrill of the day came when it was learned Omar Infante was granted his first All-Star selection.  It’s obvious that the Braves aren’t the only ones who have recognized the value he brings with his dependable versatility as a utility player. 

“I’m so happy for him,” Hudson said. “I was just thrilled when I learned that he made it.  That’s just great.”

The fact that Infante has hit .353 against the Phillies this year likely aided his cause when Phillies manager Charlie Manuel began looking at options to strengthen his bench.

The .345 batting average Infante has compiled with runners in scoring position since the start of the 2008 season ranks fifth among all Major Leaguers who have compiled at least 200 plate appearances in this situation. 

“We feel like we got a good player there, who  is a contact hitter, who can handle the bat,” Manuel said during TBS’s Selection Show.

Making his third All-Star selection and first since 2004, Hudson said he is looking forward to taking his son Kade down on the field to be surrounded by the game’s other greats during the Home Run Derby on July 12.

Prado will start at second base in place of the injured Chase Utley.  Heyward has said that his injured left thumb will likely keep him from playing. 

The five All-Star selections are the most the Braves have totaled since sending seven players to the 2003 Midsummer Classic.

UPDATED:  Billy Wagner is part of the Final Vote Ballot.  You can help the veteran closer make his final All-Star appearance by casting your votes through Thursday at 4 p.m. ET.    
 

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