Results tagged ‘ Rafael Soriano ’

Saying hello to old news

I would have started writing this blog sooner if I hadn’t waited 20 minutes for Mike Hampton, only to have the Astros announce that their clubhouse was closed.

Hey when you spent three years waiting for a guy to pitch, I guess you can wait 20 minutes for him to greet you with, “What do you want from me?  I’m old news.”

Speaking of old news, today the Braves released right-handed pitcher Anthony Lerew, who last week had accepted an assignment to Triple-A Gwinnett.  They also re-assigned Emiliano Fruto, Juan Perez and Rafael Cruz to Minor League camp.

Today’s news actually centers around Rafael Soriano, who is scheduled to make his Grapefruit League season debut  against the Astros.  The right-handed reliever reported to camp with an upper respiratory infection and fell behind schedule.  But all indications are that his right elbow is sound and in about an hour we’ll get a chance to make our own evaluations. 

Soriano missed most of last year with elbow soreness that was relieved in August during a surgical procedure that transposed the ulnar nerve of his elbow.  I’ve never transposed and I’m certainly not sure if I even have an ulnar nerve in my elbows.

So I’ll take Soriano’s word that he was dealing with tremendous pain while spending most of the 2008 season on the disabled list.  As he prepares to make $6.1 million in the final year of his contract this year, I’ll also guarantee that we’ll be seeing a lot more of the stone-faced reliever this year.

Derek Lowe will make his third appearance of the GL season today.  Soriano, Blaine Boyer, Boone Logan and Eric O’Flaherty are scheduled to work in relief.

Anderson update:  While the Braves aren’t too concerned about Chipper Jones’ oblique, they are currently a little bit worried about Garret Anderson’s strained right calf.   Bobby Cox said this morning that Anderson might miss anywhere from two weeks to a month.  But at the same time, he indicated that remains hopeful that the veteran outfielder will be in the Opening Day lineup.

Today’s Lineup:
Josh Anderson CF
Matt Diaz LF
Kelly Johnson 2B
Casey Kotchman 1B
Jeff Francoeur RF
Omar Infante SS
Martin Prado 2B
David Ross C
Derek Lowe P 

Taking a look at the bullpen

Does the art of in-office procrastination remain enjoyable when you are overwhelmed by stories about T.O. and A-Rod?  Just wondering and assuming that you guys are ready to do some debating before the Braves stage “Bullpen Audition Night” tonight. 

This isn’t exactly a reality-show type competition.  When Jeff Bennett, Boone Logan, Manny Acosta and Phil Stockman face the Astros tonight, one of them isn’t necessarily going to be voted off of Disney Island.  But if they were to perform like Jeff Ridgway has recently, they certainly could be subject to the type of criticism that would make Simon Cowell proud. 

In two appearances, Ridgway has recorded a total of three outs, allowed seven earned runs, issued four walks and surrendered five hits. For Triple-A Gwinnett manager Dave Brundage’s sake, let’s hope things turn around for the left-handed reliever once the regular season begins.

There are still plenty of questions to answer about this year’s bullpen.  But a little more than a week into the Grapefruit League season, we can at least speculate about what it will look like on Opening Day.

Assuming that they prove to be healthy, I’d say that Moylan and Soriano join Mike Gonzalez and Blaine Boyer as the current locks to begin the season in Atlanta’s bullpen.

Boone Logan and Eric O’Flaherty are the top candidates to serve as the left-handed middle relievers and I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if Cox carries both to begin the season.  When you’re fighing in a division that includes Ryan Howard, Carlos Delgado, Adam Dunn and Chase Utley, you can’t ever have enough lefties in your pen.

Assuming Logan and O’Flaherty will both begin the season in the bullpen, Buddy Carlye, Jorge Campillo, Acosta, Bennett and Stockman could find themselves fighting for the final available spot.

If Bobby Cox wants to keep a long-relief guy, Carlye might be chosen over Campillo, simply because the club might want Campillo to start the season at Gwinnett and remained conditioned as a starter in case he’s needed before Tommy Hanson is officially deemed ready for the Majors.

Of course if Jo-Jo Reyes continues to pitch like he has during his first two appearances, the Braves could choose to use him as their safety net and allow Campillo to start the year in Atlanta.  But let’s not forget that Carlyle was rock solid last year, minus two appearances that occurred right after the All-Star break.

If Moylan is available and capable of regaining his pre-TJ surgery form, the Braves may be less inclined to begin the year with Jeff Bennett as their late-inning groundball speciailist.  Moylan’s versatility arguably makes him the most important piece to this bullpen.

Even though he’s out of options, I’d still have to view Stockman as a longshot to start the year in the Atlanta bullpen.  I’m also putting have Acosta in that same category.

All of these projections come with the assumption that Moylan and Soriano will both be healthy at the start of this season.  With that being said, this certainly isn’t a guarantee. 

In fact, the only thing I’d be willing to guaranteed right now is that one or more of these relievers fighting for one of the final bullpen spots will be traded before the start of the regular season.  There are plenty of teams looking for economical bullpen solutions and they’ll be calling the Braves in the very near future.

- Mark Bowman 

Soriano highlights Monday's workout

Anderson, Anderson and Francoeur. Seriously, should I have actually laughed out loud while wondering if this sounds like a law firm or an outfield trio? Actually there’s no need to answer that.  I just read over it again and formed the same stone face that Rafael Soriano displays whenever we ask him a question. 

Speaking of Soriano, he actually impressed Bobby Cox today with the velocity he showed during the bullpen session that preceded his first live batting practice session of the season on Monday morning  All indications are that the right-handed reliever’s elbow is healthy. 

Kenshin Kawakami followed Soriano on the mound and showed more consistency with his  location than he had when he threw his first live BP session on Saturday.  The Japanese hurler mixed in a few more breaking balls and received some compliments from the hitters that he faced. 

“You can see how that guy could have a lot of success by putting the ball where he wants it and where hitters don’t like it,” Kelly Johnson said. 

Charlie Morton impressed Cox with a solid bullpen session and then possibly strained an oblique muscle while throwing to hitters.  Over the next few days, the Braves will gain a better understanding about how much time Morton might miss.

There’s a slight chance that Garret Anderson could undergo his physical and join his new Braves teammates near the end of Tuesday’s workout.  Regardless as long as everything goes well, he’ll likely be officially introduced on Tuesday afternoon.

After Monday’s workout, many of the players headed out to participate in Tim Hudson’s charity golf tournament.  While practicing his swing, the always witty Peter Moylan said, “I’m the new John Smoltz and I’ve got the hairline to prove it.”

- Mark Bowman

Views from the first workout at Disney

As this first day of workouts conclude, one can only wonder whether Tom
Glavine and Ken Griffey Jr. will actually step on the field with the
Braves before Rafael Soriano. 

Citing an upper respiratory
infection, Soriano decided not to participate in the first workout for
Braves pitchers and catchers on Sunday.  Maybe it’s time to remind him
he’s in the final year of his contract and this is one of those years
when he’s supposed to pitch. 

OK enough about Soriano and back
to the future Hall of Famers who could soon be joining the Braves.  It
still appears Glavine could reach an agreement within the next few days
and  a source close to Griffey said the veteran outfielder could reach
a decision as early as Monday.

While some of the Braves player
have made an assumption that Griffey will opt to join them, members of
both parties have said it’s too early to make this assumption.

With
this being said, in their search to add an outfielder the Braves have
clearly moved Griffey to the top of their wish list.  The ability to
get him for $1-2 million is much more appealing than the prospect of
waiting to see if the Yankees will deal Nick Swisher with the agreement
to assume a portion of his remaining contract.

About a week
ago, Swisher seemed to be at the top of the wish list. But that was
before Griffey called the Braves and campaigned for the opportunity to
play for Atlanta. 

Suddenly the prospect of paying $22.05
million over the course of the next three years didn’t seem as
appealing to the Braves.  With the uncertainty of this current economy,
that’s just not a price you want to pay for a guy who has combined to
hit .241 with a .792 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage)
over the past two seasons. 

Even while essentially playing
with one healthy leg this past season, Griffey’s combined statistics
over the past two seasons include a .263 batting average and an .825
OPS. Against right-handed pitchers during this span, he hit .286 with
an .893 OPS.

If Griffey is truly comfortable with being part
of a left field platoon with Matt Diaz, he seems to be the best fit
from both a financial and production standpoint.

By Monday, we might receive confirmation that he feels the Braves are indeed the best fit for him.

- Mark Bowman

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