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leftie5
01-22-2009, 03:52 PM
No real surprises here, but it looks like we will get to see some of Heyward, Freeman, Hanson, Schafer, and Medlen.

I know the organization still has some roster moves to make, but who do you guys think has the best chance to make the big league club or will they all more than likely start the season in the minors?

http://atlanta.braves.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20090122&content_id=3763040&vkey=news_atl&fext=.jsp&c_id=atl

Braves83
01-22-2009, 03:59 PM
RHPs Rafael Cruz, Emiliano Fruto, Tommy Hanson and Kris Medlen; LHPs Francisley Bueno, Mariano Gomez and Juan Perez); catchers J.C. Boscan, Phillip Britton, Alvin Colina and Matt Kennelly; INFs Brooks Conrad, Freddie Freeman and Brandon Hicks, and OFs Jason Heyward and Jordan Schafer.
http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2009/01/braves-non-rost.html

jdiddy24
01-22-2009, 04:09 PM
RHPs Rafael Cruz, Emiliano Fruto, Tommy Hanson and Kris Medlen; LHPs Francisley Bueno, Mariano Gomez and Juan Perez); catchers J.C. Boscan, Phillip Britton, Alvin Colina and Matt Kennelly; INFs Brooks Conrad, Freddie Freeman and Brandon Hicks, and OFs Jason Heyward and Jordan Schafer.
http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2009/01/braves-non-rost.html

you can pretty much rule out everyone on here from being on the Opening Day roster except Tommy Hanson and Jordan Shafer... and those are slim chances... everyone else will undoubtedly start in the minors and probably stay in the minors all season with the exception of Medlen and Bueno if we have a big rash of injuries again

bravefan4life
01-22-2009, 04:20 PM
So if Hanson dominates all through spring training would it be possible that he is there opening day, and if so, is that a good idea?

What about Heyward, could he move to left and platoon with the other guys if he was that good or is it to early?

Braves83
01-22-2009, 04:34 PM
I would want to see Heyward develop more in the minors. He's going to be something special for us along with Jordan. Glavine saids he might be ready to pitch,so for right now we have our 5 man rotation. Hanson should stay in the minors as well and develop his stuff a little more and see what he does in a higher level.

Brave4life
01-22-2009, 05:03 PM
Out of all those I am most excited to see Hanson, Heyward, and schafer.

BRAVE KID
01-22-2009, 05:16 PM
Out of all those I am most excited to see Hanson, Heyward, and schafer. I am pretty sure everybody else is most excited to see them as well..since they have been talked about the most.

Might as well add Freeman and Hicks to that list as well, especially freeman since he seems to be the future 1B, after kotchman contract is done.

CrippledRam
01-22-2009, 05:21 PM
I really see our farm getting majorly restocked in 2010/11. With Schaef, FF, Heyward, Locke, and Hanson up we will have guy to move for stud young specs (or picks). Kotch, Whoever is playing LF, Vasquez/KK, Frenchy..

jmtapia
01-22-2009, 05:40 PM
^^^factor in there our #7 pick this year... Most reports have us taking the young college out of Mizzouri. I think his last name is Gibson. He should be ready by then... Things are looking very good...

rtgthree
01-22-2009, 05:44 PM
^^^factor in there our #7 pick this year... Most reports have us taking the young college out of Mizzouri. I think his last name is Gibson. He should be ready by then... Things are looking very good...

You're referring to right-handed pitcher Kyle Gibson, just FYI. You are indeed correct that things are looking up.

rtgthree
01-22-2009, 06:10 PM
One note:

Righty Rafael Cruz was Kenshin Kawakami's teammate with the Chunichi Dragons in Japan for the last two years. He was signed so that Kenshin will have a familiar face in the Braves' camp.

Now, the rest of the guys in categories.

Prospects with legit shots: Kris Medlen, Jordan Schafer, Tommy Hanson (I wouldn't bet on any of them, and frankly I hope none of them make the team, but they'll at least get long looks)

Prospects just getting a taste: Matt Kennelly, Brandon Hicks, Freddie Freeman, Jason Heyward (I really like Kennelly. He was signed out of Australia last year and he had a really strong stateside debut; he's just 19. You know the other guys.)

Random left-handed pitchers: Juan Perez, Francisley Bueno, Mariano Gomez (though Perez is actually better than waste-of-a-roster-spot Jeff Ridgway)

Random catchers (in camp just because they have lots of pitchers who need to be caught): J.C. Boscan, Phillip Britton, Alvin Colina (while I hope it never comes to this, I might actually pick Colina over Sammons as the third catcher; Britton was actually sort of a prospect until he had an absolutely horrendous year at Myrtle Beach)

Formerly famous: Emiliano Fruto, Brooks Conrad (both were very legitimate talents as recently as two years ago)

rtgthree
01-22-2009, 06:12 PM
Also worth mentioning, I know the Braves re-signed some guys like Joe Borchard and Vladimir Nunez. Not sure why they don't get listed as NRIs, but it's a good bet that they (and others) will be around camp. Not that any will really have a shot at the roster, but they'll be there.

rtgthree
01-22-2009, 06:19 PM
Baseball America put up a note about the Braves' NRIs, which doesn't really say much of anything, except for this one little tidbit about Matt Kennelly:

Kennelly, 19, was originally signed by the Braves as a non-drafted free agent out of Western Australia in August 1995.
So the Braves signed him when he was...six years old? Now THAT'S what we call identifying talent!

baseballman8388
01-22-2009, 06:23 PM
Yea, I really hope none of these guys make the roster out of camp, except maybe Schafer, depending on how our options shake out.

jdiddy24
01-22-2009, 06:42 PM
Baseball America put up a note about the Braves' NRIs, which doesn't really say much of anything, except for this one little tidbit about Matt Kennelly:

So the Braves signed him when he was...six years old? Now THAT'S what we call identifying talent!

that was a typo... he was signed August of 2005

A_Brave_Pack
01-22-2009, 06:50 PM
Baseball America put up a note about the Braves' NRIs, which doesn't really say much of anything, except for this one little tidbit about Matt Kennelly:

So the Braves signed him when he was...six years old? Now THAT'S what we call identifying talent!


^^^That is some serious ADVANCED scouting... :D

Brave4life
01-22-2009, 07:11 PM
Do we have some sort of contracts with heyward hanson ar schafer. are they longterm

lavell12
01-22-2009, 07:14 PM
I think Schafer probably has the greatest chances of making the opening day roster of the group, especially if Andruw isn't signed. As you can remember the Braves actually considered having him on the big league team after last year's ST.

I think Hanson has a okay shot b/c the 5 spot is open and he probably is a better pitcher right now than Reyes or Morton. He may not have as much experience but is probably a better pitcher. With Campillo, Jair, and Vazquez all in the WBC Hanson will get his inning.

Bueno is the only other guy with a shot, especially if Ohman isn't re-signed.


Chances of making the big club out of ST.

Schafer 40%
Hanson 35%
Bueno 15%

lavell12
01-22-2009, 07:15 PM
Do we have some sort of contracts with heyward hanson ar schafer. are they longterm

once you get to the mlb, i believe you have six years before you can become a free agent. so the braves have no reason to sign him.

rtgthree
01-22-2009, 08:21 PM
I think Schafer probably has the greatest chances of making the opening day roster of the group, especially if Andruw isn't signed. As you can remember the Braves actually considered having him on the big league team after last year's ST.

I think Hanson has a okay shot b/c the 5 spot is open and he probably is a better pitcher right now than Reyes or Morton. He may not have as much experience but is probably a better pitcher. With Campillo, Jair, and Vazquez all in the WBC Hanson will get his inning.

Bueno is the only other guy with a shot, especially if Ohman isn't re-signed.


Chances of making the big club out of ST.

Schafer 40%
Hanson 35%
Bueno 15%

A few things. Schafer probably does have a decent shot of making the team, but he still struggles against left-handed pitching and he's still limited to just about two months of experience at Double-A. It's a real stretch to think he'll be ready. The Braves MUST bring in some more competition for the center field job, and Andruw Jones seems like the obvious answer there.

Also, it's not likely that Jair Jurrjens will pitch in the WBC; he's likely to decline the invitation. The rosters that have been released are merely provisional. Not everyone on those rosters will actually play...some will be cut by their teams, while others will opt out. Hanson will get plenty of looks in camp, but given the team's depth in starting pitching, there's just not a whole lot of reason to risk rushing Hanson.

Let them destroy the International League for a while before making them adjust to the big leagues. We have the depth to wait for both of these guys to force our hand before calling them up.

Lastly, Bueno is almost certain to not make the team, even if Ohman isn't brought back. Eric O'Flaherty and Boone Logan are both left-handed, and they are both significantly better than Bueno. Even Jeff Ridgway would be a better choice than Bueno.


Do we have some sort of contracts with heyward hanson ar schafer. are they longterm

As lavell points out, players are under team control for the first six years of their careers. They can't go anywhere until they have played with their first team for six seasons (unless the team releases them). Those three aren't going anywhere for a very long time.

Brave4life
01-22-2009, 08:54 PM
Thanks

jmtapia
01-22-2009, 10:40 PM
Baseball America put up a note about the Braves' NRIs, which doesn't really say much of anything, except for this one little tidbit about Matt Kennelly:

So the Braves signed him when he was...six years old? Now THAT'S what we call identifying talent!

LOL... Im pretty sure he was signed at the age of 16.

GLASSMAN
01-22-2009, 10:50 PM
So the Braves signed him when he was...six years old? Now THAT'S what we call identifying talent!

They say that you learn everything you need to know about life in kindergarten, I guess the same applies to T-ball. :D

baseballs14d
01-23-2009, 01:41 AM
that was a typo... he was signed August of 2005

I think he knew that and was being sarcastic lol

jmtapia
01-23-2009, 01:49 AM
^^^Knowing RTG i wouldnt be to sure about that....lol

rtgthree
01-23-2009, 03:09 PM
^^^Knowing RTG i wouldnt be to sure about that....lol

Uh, yeah. That was sarcasm.

marlon641
01-23-2009, 03:46 PM
So I wonder why Gorkys isn't getting a shot? I'd like to see what he has to offer too.

jmtapia
01-23-2009, 09:03 PM
Uh, yeah. That was sarcasm.

like i said....lol.


So I wonder why Gorkys isn't getting a shot? I'd like to see what he has to offer too.

what do you mean a shot??? Gorkys is by no way, shape or form ready. With his leg injury i would give him as much time to rest his leg. This upcoming season will be a very important one for Gorkys. I would not be surprised if he pulled off a Hanson/Flowers type season. Maybe not as dominating but certainly one in which he puts it all together.

Cubano
01-27-2009, 06:12 PM
Francisley Bueno was pitching in the Dominican Winter league. Can someone post the list of all nonroster invitees? I like to know if Barbaro Canizares and Vladimir Nunez were invited.

BravoFan3736
01-27-2009, 06:15 PM
[QUOTE]Francisley Bueno was pitching in the Dominican Winter league. Can someone post the list of all nonroster invitees? I like to know if Barbaro Canizares and Vladimir Nunez were invited.


The list of non-roster players includes four right-handed pitchers (Rafael Cruz, Emiliano Fruto, Tommy Hanson and Kris Medlen), three left-handed pitchers (Francisley Bueno, Mariano Gomez and Juan Perez), four catchers (J.C. Boscan, Phillip Britton, Alvin Colina and Matt Kennelly), three infielders (Brooks Conrad, Freddie Freeman and Brandon Hicks) and two outfielders (Jason Heyward and Jordan Schafer).


Headlining the pitchers is the right-handed Hanson, who was the first pitcher in the 17-year history of the Arizona Fall League to be named Most Valuable Player with his 5-0 record, 0.63 ERA and .105 opponents’ batting average. He was named the Braves’ top pitcher in the organization by the team and he is rated as the Braves’ top prospect and as the Carolina League’s best pitching prospect by Baseball America. Hanson, 22, was 3-1 with a 0.90 ERA at Myrtle Beach (A) before being promoted and going 8-4 with a 3.03 ERA at Mississippi (AA), which included a no-hitter with 14 strikeouts on June 25 vs. Birmingham.

Bueno, 27, made one appearance in 2008 with the Braves. He was 2-6 with a 5.23 ERA in 19 games (14 starts) at Richmond (AAA). Cruz, 31, comes to the Braves after pitching as a teammate of newly-acquired pitcher Kenshin Kawakami with the Chunichi Dragons in Japan’s Central League where he was 1-3 with a 2.66 ERA in 17 games. Fruto, 24, pitched for the Arizona Triple-A affiliate in Tucson where he was 6-6 with a 5.26 ERA in 49 games (four starts). Gomez, 26, went 5-2 with a 2.76 ERA in 54 relief appearances with Triple-A Rochester of the Minnesota Twins’ system. Medlen, 23, went 7-8 with a 3.52 ERA in 36 games (17 starts) with Mississippi in ’08. He was originally selected by Atlanta in the 10th round of the 2006 draft and is Atlanta’s ninth-rated prospect by Baseball America. Perez, 30, made 20 relief outings for Indianapolis (AAA) of the Pittsburgh organization, going 2-2 with a 3.57 ERA.

Boscan, 29, returns as a invitee after hitting .235 with 2 HR and 29 RBIs for Mississippi in 2008. Britton, 24, spent the majority of the season at Myrtle Beach where he hit .246 in 84 games with 6 HR and 26 RBIs. He was originally signed by Atlanta as a 2004 draft and follow. Colina, 27, comes to the Braves from Louisville (AAA) of the Cincinnati system where he hit .256 with 8 HR and 54 RBIs in 65 games. Kennelly, 19, was originally signed by the Braves as a non-drafted free agent out of Western Australia in August 1995. He hit .246 with 4 HR and 25 RBIs in 44 games at Danville (Rookie) and .457 with 10 RBIs at Rome (A) in 2008.

Freeman, 19, will be making his first appearance in the major-league camp after posting an impressive .316 average with 18 HR and 95 RBIs in 130 games with Rome (A). He was chosen by the Braves in the second round of the 2007 draft He was named by the Braves as their top hitter in the system for 2008 and he was named Atlanta’s fifth-best prospect by Baseball America and 38th-best prospect in the minor leagues by MLB.com. Hicks, 23, is listed as the Braves’ top infield arm by Baseball America. Last season, he hit .234 with 2 HR and 19 RBIs in 93 games with Myrtle Beach and .241 with 1 HR and 7 RBIs in 16 games with Mississippi. Conrad, 29, joins the Braves from the Oakland Athletics where he hit .158 with 2 RBIs in six games after hitting .243 with 28 HRs and 91 RBIs in 117 games with Sacramento (AAA).

Both outfield invitees are highly-rated prospects. Heyward, 19, is rated as the Braves’ second-best prospect by Baseball America and as the top prospect in the South Atlantic League. He ranked third in the league with his .323 average and fourth with a .388 on-base percentage. He also had 11 HR, 52 RBIs and 15 SBs. Heyward was Atlanta’s first round selection (14th overall) in the 2007 draft. Schafer, 22, will be in his second major-league camp after hitting .269 with 10 HRs, 51 RBIs and 12 SBs with Mississippi. He is the Braves” third-ranked prospect by Baseball America and named by the magazine as the organization’s top outfielder. He was the top-ranked Atlanta prospect following the 2007 season.

Braves pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to camp on Saturday, February 14, with the first workout set for the following day. The rest of the Braves players are scheduled to report on Tuesday, February 17, with the first full-squad workout slated for February 18.

rtgthree
01-27-2009, 10:15 PM
Francisley Bueno was pitching in the Dominican Winter league. Can someone post the list of all nonroster invitees? I like to know if Barbaro Canizares and Vladimir Nunez were invited.




They were not invited, but teams can extend invitations any time they want. Remember Vladimir Nunez was not listed as an invitee last year, but he did get a look in big-league camp. They regularly pull guys out of minor-league camp to let them test their mettle against the ML-ers. Especially with the World Baseball Classic taking guys out of camp for a while, look for some guys that aren't NRIs to get major-league reps.

BRAVE KID
01-30-2009, 12:47 AM
Braves pitchers out for early prep work
Several hurlers to show up for voluntary training on Friday

ATLANTA -- While simply standing as a voluntary option, the Braves' early throwing program stands as an unofficial beginning for those impatient fans who can't wait for the day when pitchers and catchers report.
Once known as Camp Leo, in reference to former pitching coach Leo Mazzone, this early throwing program will begin on Friday, when a group of Braves pitchers arrive at Turner Field to make their final Spring Training preparations, under the watchful eyes of manager Bobby Cox and pitching coach Roger McDowell.

While jobs obviously aren't going to be won during this nine-day throwing program, prospects like Tommy Hanson will have the opportunity to get better acquainted with the Major League lifestyle that awaits them.

As for guys like Stephen Marek, Boone Logan and Eric O'Flaherty, three relievers who were acquired over the past six months, this program provides them the chance to get comfortable with the teammates and coaches who will surround them when they experience their first Spring Training with the Braves.

While Logan, Marek and O'Flaherty will go to camp looking to win a spot in the bullpen, Hanson knows he has an outside chance to begin the season in Atlanta's rotation.

"That's the goal," Hanson said. "I want to be up here as soon as possible. But I'll let the Braves take care of that. I'm just going to go out and pitch and be all eyes and ears during Spring Training and just try to figure out what it's like pitching against big league hitters."

Considered one of the game's best pitching prospects, Hanson has the capability of vaulting himself toward the front of Atlanta's rotation by the time the 2009 season concludes. But because the 22-year-old right-hander has made just 18 starts above the Class A level, the Braves don't want to rush his maturation process.

"We don't have any expectations of him coming to his first Major League camp and winning a job," Braves general manager Frank Wren said. "We're open-minded. It's like with all of our young players -- they'll tell us when they're ready through their performance."

Also expected to join Hanson as a newcomer to this year's throwing program will be Kenshin Kawakami, a 33-year-old right-hander who is expected to become the first Japanese player Atlanta has employed on its Major League roster


Kawakami is currently in Japan, attempting to obtain his work visa. But the Braves think he could return to Atlanta next week, and when he does, he'll likely begin throwing with the other pitchers participating in this program.

Former closer Rafael Soriano, who was limited to 14 appearances last year because of right elbow discomfort, is also expected to arrive in Atlanta next week to be evaluated by Braves doctors.

Soriano's 2008 season officially ended in August when doctors transposed the ulnar nerve in his right elbow. Based on recent conversations, Wren believes the right-handed reliever will be at full strength when Braves pitchers and catchers stage their first official workout in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., on Feb. 15. braves.com (http://atlanta.braves.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20090128&content_id=3778410&vkey=news_atl&fext=.jsp&c_id=atl)

robdizzle3
01-30-2009, 05:03 AM
I am so excited that baseball is almost back.Good to be back in the forum talking it up with you guys

jmtapia
01-30-2009, 04:18 PM
Does anyone see Hanson having a JJ type effect in this years ST??? Why or why not?

rtgthree
01-30-2009, 04:36 PM
Does anyone see Hanson having a JJ type effect in this years ST??? Why or why not?

I would say no, just because we didn't have the depth last year that we do this year. Last year, we really NEEDED Jurrjens to step up and win a rotation spot, but this year, with our excellent depth, there is no reason for Hanson to make the team out of Spring Training, until we've tried scrolling through some of our other options.

Hanson may have an even better showing than Jurrjens did last year; I'm not saying that's outside the realm of possibility. I just think that the Braves will send him back to Gwinnett, regardless of how he performs.

jmtapia
01-30-2009, 05:28 PM
I would say no, just because we didn't have the depth last year that we do this year. Last year, we really NEEDED Jurrjens to step up and win a rotation spot, but this year, with our excellent depth, there is no reason for Hanson to make the team out of Spring Training, until we've tried scrolling through some of our other options.

Hanson may have an even better showing than Jurrjens did last year; I'm not saying that's outside the realm of possibility. I just think that the Braves will send him back to Gwinnett, regardless of how he performs.

I see your point but i dont believe the Braves "needing" JJ to step up really had anything to do with JJ's actual performance. I disagree with your last statement. If Hanson comes to ST and is blowing opponents away then i think the general notion will be that he is ready. There is certainly already a lot of shatter that he is ready and a great ST could prove all in that camp right. Lets not forget that we arent talking about some 20 year old pitcher here, i realize age isnt a great measuring tool but to some extent it is, Hanson is going to be 23 in August so it might just be his turn.

rtgthree
01-30-2009, 11:02 PM
I see your point but i dont believe the Braves "needing" JJ to step up really had anything to do with JJ's actual performance. I disagree with your last statement. If Hanson comes to ST and is blowing opponents away then i think the general notion will be that he is ready. There is certainly already a lot of shatter that he is ready and a great ST could prove all in that camp right. Lets not forget that we arent talking about some 20 year old pitcher here, i realize age isnt a great measuring tool but to some extent it is, Hanson is going to be 23 in August so it might just be his turn.

I understand that Jurrjens didn't perform BECAUSE the Braves needed him. I'm just pointing out that the depth is the big difference between Hanson's situation this spring and Jurrjens' last spring. I think it would take a pretty unlikely convergence of events--Glavine not signing, Campillo, Reyes and Morton not impressing at all--for Hanson to make the team. It's not that he won't be the best pitcher in camp (he might), but I think the other guys will get the benefit of the doubt since it makes a lot more sense to send Hanson back to Gwinnett than Morton or Reyes (if Charlie or Jo-Jo is impressive, that is). My main point: all other things being equal or close, Hanson will lose the job. He'll have to truly be head and shoulders above in order to be on the Opening Day roster. I am not debating his readiness, just his opportunity.

BRAVE KID
01-31-2009, 03:51 PM
http://www.ajc.com/story/content/sports/braves/stories/2009/01/30/braves_pitching_camp.html

BRAVE KID
02-03-2009, 08:15 PM
Boyer benefiting from offseason work
After tiring down the stretch, righty may have found the answer


ATLANTA -- As he was leaving Turner Field after a Braves loss in September, John Smoltz was asked about Blaine Boyer, who just a couple of hours earlier had surrendered his seventh homer in a span of 17 innings.
"That kid has an absolute gift," Smoltz said. "Once he understands what he has and how to use it, he could be dominant. There are tons of pitchers who would die to have his arm."

While posting a 12.71 ERA in his final 22 appearances last year, there were plenty of days when Boyer would have died for the opportunity to realize the success tons of other pitchers were finding.

Seeing the frustration on Boyer's face, Smoltz approached the 27-year-old right-handed reliever during the season's final weeks and invited him to train with him during the offseason.

Three months later, Boyer finds himself relieved of the physical strains that developed while making a career-high 76 appearances last year. Maybe more importantly, he also now possesses a restored sense of confidence that was seriously damaged as he labored toward the end of the 2008 season.

"I'm as best prepared as I can be," said Boyer, who is projected to serve as one of Atlanta's top middle relievers this upcoming season. "With the workouts, everything we did had a purpose. The exercises were more sports-specific and there was a much greater emphasis placed on repetitions."

Utilizing some of the non-traditional techniques developed by Smoltz and personal trainer Pete Hughes, Boyer feels he's developed the endurance that he lacked while he suddenly fell apart during the second half of this past season.

In the 51 appearances he made before the All-Star break, Boyer posted a 3.93 ERA and limited opponents to a .237 batting average and a .301 on-base percentage.

In 25 appearances after the break, Boyer posted an 11.17 ERA, and opponents produced a .321 batting average and .374 on-base percentage against him.

"I want to be a horse," Boyer said. "My goal is to be consistent and really show people what I can do. I feel there were points of the season when I felt I was able to show people what I can do. But that was primarily in the first half of the season."

When Boyer said he "felt great" last week, a reporter responded by saying, "Yeah, but that's what you were saying last year."

With a smile, Boyer responded, "Yeah, but you could tell."

Until he has an opportunity to encounter some success this season, Boyer won't truly know the rewards of his offseason work. But while throwing off the mound on Friday and Monday, the right-hander said he could detect a noticeable difference in the ease of his delivery.

"I felt like I could rear back and throw 120 [mph]," Boyer said.

Understanding that he doesn't have to attempt to throw the baseball past every opposing batter is one thing Boyer has come to realize as he gains a better grasp of the art of pitching.

After a successful 2005 rookie season, Boyer was sidelined through much of '06 because of a right shoulder injury. With the '07 season being essentially spent in the Minors, last year was the first full season the righty experienced in the Majors.

While the season was trying at times, it was still one in which Boyer showed enough to impress Smoltz, who himself stands as a prime example of how dominant a gifted pitcher can become once he gains his confidence.

"Smoltz has always been very big into the confidence thing," Boyer said. "I know that I can go out and have the greatest stuff in the world. But if I don't truly believe that, then that stuff can be worthless." braves.com

BRAVE KID
02-03-2009, 08:20 PM
fired-up gonzalez says he has ‘a new arm’
braves’ closer healthy for first time since coming to atlanta


hard to imagine mike gonzalez any more fired up than he already gets, isn’t it?

Well, keep an eye out in the coming weeks.


The excitable closer is as healthy as he’s ever been as a brave, nearly two years removed from may 2007 elbow reconstruction surgery.

He’s raring to go. And that’s saying something for a guy who rocks over the rubber in his windup.

Gonzalez has felt this way since he start throwing again in early january.

“i felt like i had a new arm,” gonzalez said. “i felt like i was 20 years old again. I went out there and was just slinging it. I’ve been having to back off a little bit because my arm was just like ‘man, you better go.’ “

gonzalez still has two weeks before spring training starts and nine weeks before opening day. But he can’t wait to pitch his first full season healthy since he was closing for pittsburgh.

“i really felt like atlanta hasn’t had a chance to see me 100 percent,” said gonzalez, who was having elbow problems before the braves traded for him in january of 2007. “i’m fired up and looking forward to going out there and throwing without any pain.”

pitchers say coming back from “tommy john” surgery can feel awkward, adjusting to new energy, working through soreness and enduring inconsistencies.

But after an offseason to rest?

“every guy that’s had tommy john (surgery) tells me the same thing: ‘hey, after these three months, it’s on. Now you’re going to compete. You’re going to be back to old gonzo.’ that’s what i’m looking forward to,” gonzalez said.

he was a tick or two off from the “old gonzo” last season. Gonzalez converted 14 of 16 saves in 36 outings, but his 4.28 era (16 earned runs in 332/3 innings) was uncharacteristic. His fastball, which is normally mid-to-upper 90s, was in the low 90s at best when he first returned in mid-june.

But because of that initial dip in velocity, gonzalez said, he had to focus more on throwing strikes and mixing in his offspeed pitches. That will help him now as his velocity returns.

“before i just let it eat, as they say, let it go and see what happens,” gonzalez said. “i really had to focus on throwing strikes last year, and i think it helped me. I’ve got a better understanding of the strike zone, and it’s definitely going to make me a better pitcher.”

gonzalez is confident in his slider and more comfortable with his changeup, a pitch he plans to mix in more. That’s significant for a guy who lived off his fastball for much of his 20s.

“pride is a big thing for me,” said gonzalez, 30. “you see a power hitter, a (ryan) howard or (albert) pujols, and it was like ‘here’s your fastball.’ i’m starting to understand now, you know what? If they can’t hit the slider in the dirt, you throw that slider in the dirt until they learn how to hit it.”

gonzalez has lost 15 pounds. He’s a fit 6-foot-2, 200 pounds and in the best shape of his life, he says. He had to have surgery in october to remove a fatty tumor from his back called a lipoma, but it was benign, and he recovered in three weeks.

The three months he took off this winter were gonzalez’s first break from throwing and rehabilitating his arm in two years, going back to the start of the 2007 season.

He got his mind off the game by working with his family in deer park, texas outside houston to rebuild the church where his parents are pastors. The house of refuge non-denominational church was damaged in hurricane ike last september.

After work was complete, he took his parents and two sisters on their first family vacation since his parents became pastors 14 years ago. They went to cabo san lucas, mexico.

Now he’s rested and ready to get back to work as the braves’ primary closer. Rafael soriano and peter moylan, both coming back from surgeries of their own, are expected to serve as his setup men.

Gonzalez is ready to shoulder the load, and the braves are eager to see what he can do.

“from that first time he went in (in a game) in texas, to where he ended up, his velocity was climbing and that was right after tommy john surgery,” braves reliever blaine boyer said. “you can only imagine what it’s going to be like now after a full offseason of rest and working out. He looks awesome. He’s going to be dominant this year, no doubt.”ajc

robdizzle3
02-04-2009, 02:29 AM
The bullpen should look good,but you never know with our luck

BRAVE KID
02-04-2009, 05:53 PM
The bullpen should look good,but you never know with our luckI have been hearing so many great news about the pen, as long as it is healthy it should really be a hell of a pen.

Slash
02-04-2009, 06:18 PM
I have been hearing so many great news about the pen, as long as it is healthy it should really be a hell of a pen.

We had the best pen last year at the all-star break. As long as our starters stay reasonably healthy we should be fine. The good news is that our starters are built for innings now.

robdizzle3
02-05-2009, 12:25 AM
Do you guys know if Moylan will be ready for the start of the season?

jmtapia
02-05-2009, 12:32 AM
^^ i think he will be ready by mid May....

robdizzle3
02-05-2009, 12:38 AM
What about Soriano?

jmtapia
02-05-2009, 12:44 AM
^^^he should be ready by ST....

robdizzle3
02-05-2009, 12:52 AM
I'm asking slot of questions but will Stockman be up this year?

jmtapia
02-05-2009, 01:07 AM
i think he is out of options so they have to figure something out...

^^^ Yep he is. So are: Josh Anderson, Blaine Boyer, and Anthony Lerew. My guess is that Lerew makes room for AJ.

robdizzle3
02-05-2009, 01:22 AM
Didn't Lerew have an injury last year?

jmtapia
02-05-2009, 02:41 AM
^^^im pretty sure he had TJ surgery a couple years back...

rtgthree
02-05-2009, 05:35 PM
Do you guys know if Moylan will be ready for the start of the season?

Actually, David O'Brien has been telling us that Moylan expects to be ready for the start of the season (if not, then soon after). Now it's hard to know when players are being unrealistically optimistic, but I think it's a fair bet Moylan's in the bullpen on Opening Day.

Then again, with the bullpen being as crowded as it is, perhaps the Braves will "take advantage" of Moylan's injury to give Peter a little extra time to recover and give themselves a little extra time to sort out who's worth keeping and who isn't. Either way, I'm sure they won't rush Moylan, but there's a chance he'll be ready anyway.