Terrible, terrible news. Chipper Jones’ knee injury is more serious than initially thought. On Thursday, Chipper’s agent confirmed the worst: the 38-year-old third baseman tore the ACL in his left knee when he went down in Tuesday’s game vs. the Astros. Continue reading
David J. Phillip, AP
Saying he “heard a distinct pop” in his left knee (the same one that he tore up in 1994) after making a routine play, Chipper Jones dropped to the ground and stayed there for a while during Tuesday night’s win over the Astros. The MRI results were positive, according to David O’Brien, and Chip’s hopeful that it’s only a sprain. Knowing Chipper, a sprain could still sideline him for the next two months, but at least there is some possibility that we can get him back on the field shortly. Still, seeing your injury-prone, 38-year-old franchise player lying in a heap at third base is always a scary situation.
The new targeted record for the Braves is 161-1.
The Cubs defeated the Braves last night, 2-0, to salvage a win out of the season’s opening series. Tommy Hanson surrendered a pair of solo home runs to Georgia natives Marlon Byrd and Tyler Colvin. More significant was the oblique strain suffered by Chipper in the third inning. If you had April 8, 2010, in your Chipper Jones injury pool, congratulations As you know, Chipper has suffered numerous oblique injuries in the past few years. He is doubtful for the weekend series in San Francisco.
As for Hanson, the big righty was filthy at times, and erratic at others. In 5 and a third, he struck out 7, and walked 3, including one issued to Cubs starter Randy Wells in just 4 pitches. Wells was nearly unhittable, burying his splitter in the dirt all night.
And if you were waiting for Jason Heyward to look like a rookie, he finally did in his 9th inning at bat, courtesy of three Carlos Marmol sliders which were nowhere near the strike zone. Heyward swung at all three, missing badly each time. After going 2-5 on Opening Day, J-Hey is just 1 for his last 7 and has 3 Ks.I guess that is what Bobby Cox meant when he warned us not to expect too much too soon from the 20-year old.
It’s on to San Francisco for a 3-game set with the Giants, who at 3-0 are playing baseball better than they are spelling.
Not to be outdone, the vets got in on the action Thursday in a spring training game with the Cardinals. Chipper Jones hit his first homer of the spring, and Tim Hudson threw 5 strong innings, giving up just 1 run on 4 hits, as the Braves beat the Cards 5-3.
Kris Medlen threw 2 innings, surrendering a run but also posting 4 strikeouts. At the plate, Melky Cabrera and Omar Infante had 2 hits apiece. Nate McLouth went hitless again today. As Dave O’Brien reports, he’s now 1-31 for the spring, with 12 strike outs during that time. Maybe McLouth is not cut out for the leadoff role, after all.
The Braves are now 11-5 in Grapefruit League play. They’ll take on the Tigers tomorrow night.
Jeff Schultz delivered on his promise for a fresh Jason Heyward column. Seemingly contrite for his own contribution to the hyperbole machine, he cautions readers to temper their expectations for J-Hey.
“The expectations in the past few weeks have grown like some mutant life form. First we wondered if he could make the team in spring training. Then we wondered how many cars he would destroy in batting practice. Now there’s a thought he has first ballot Hall of Famer stamped on his forehead. And if not, what’s wrong with those crazy voters?
….All of this begs the question: Is there a danger in expecting too much too soon?”
Astoundingly, Schultz doesn’t just contradict himself, he even hyperlinks us to the very column, to serve as an example of expectations gone wild. Are we expecting too much too soon? I don’t know. But after three separate AJC articles about the sound his bat makes during during batting practice in 72 hours, I’m leaning toward yes. If Schultz wants to find out who’s building Heyward up to an unreachable level, he needn’t look far. The answer is just one hyperlink away.
There’s little worry that Heyward won’t be able to handle the spotlight. His demeanor and patience at the plate are far beyond most of his peers, he’s an Albert Pujols/Manny Ramirez level genius at the plate. Don’t believe me? Compare Pujols’ minor league stats to Heyward’s, they’re remarkably similar. Heyward’s combined OPS for A, AA and AAA last season was .963, Albert’s OPS was .920 over three levels at age 20. The strikeout-to-walk ratios are nearly identical (47 SOs,46 walks for Pujols, 51 of each for Heyward) and the power and averages are similar as well. I’m not worried about Heyward failing to live up to the lofty image we’ve constructed for him, it’s very clear we’re dealing with a special talent. While it’s obvious why so many are enamored with the kid, his career will be more enjoyable if the Atlanta media stops being so annoyingly repetitive in singing his praises.
Other Braves notes-
- Buster Olney notes the Braves players and coaches have not shied away from singing Heyward’s praises. Compared to the way most veteran players deflect attention from high profile rookies, it’s a valid point.
- DOB says Jair Jurrjens may be close to returning. Jurrjens has been throwing pain-free for a few days and will look to throw his first bullpen session Monday.
- Tim Hudson was inducted into the inaugural Wall of Fame at Auburn. Frank Thomas and Bo Jackson were also honored in the class.
- Meant to discuss this earlier, but with all the Heyward hype it’s easy to forget about the other aspects of the team. With Jesse Chavez possibly emerging and Scott Proctor on track to be ready by April, the Braves patchwork bullpen just might come together. Still not sure how reliable a back end consisting of a 40 (Takashi Saito) and 38 year old (Billy Wagner) will be, but there is at least some promising depth behind them. With Moylan, Medlan, O’Flaherty, Chavez and hopefully Proctor, Cox will at least have more options than he did last season.
- Chipper Jones spoke honestly about retirement. My take is that like Bobby Cox, I can’t picture Braves baseball without him. Until he’s not wearing a tomahawk on his chest for opening day 2011, there’s no way I believe Chip’s remotely close to hanging it up.
- The Grapefruit league is less than a week away. I wouldn’t know it by looking outside, but it’s good to know that it’s almost spring somewhere, and Braves baseball will be here soon enough.
Posted in Atlanta Braves, Major League Baseball, Opinion
Tagged AJC, Albert Pujols, Atlanta Braves, Bobby Cox, Chipper Jones, David O'Brien, Jair Jurrjens, Jason Heyward, Jeff Schultz, retirement, Tim Hudson