Tag:Alex Cora
Posted on: June 4, 2010 11:11 pm

Braves' Venters a real vulture

LOS ANGELES -- Red-hot Atlanta and streaking Los Angeles got back to business here Friday night. And Jonny Venters, the Braves' one-pitch wonder, figured life would get back to normal after he unexpectedly scooped up his first career save Thursday by throwing, yes, one pitch.

While the Braves hooted and hollered and kidded him into Friday, the circumstances weren't funny.

Takashi Saito suffered a pulled left hamstring that would knock him onto the 15-day disabled list when he threw strike two to Russell Martin with two out in the ninth inning of Thursday night's game.

Atlanta manager Bobby Cox summoned Venters, a 25-year-old rookie whom the Braves picked in the 30th round of the 2003 draft, to finish off Martin. Billy Wagner, the Braves' closer, was unavailable because he had worked four games in the preceding four-day span.

One slider later, job done.

And Venters still hasn't heard the end of it.

"When we were walking in, Bobby was screaming at me, calling me a vulture," Venters said Friday, grinning. "And [closer] Billy Wagner has been ragging me all day. Every time he comes around, he tells me he has to win his job back.

"He calls me 'The Closer.'"

Though Venters has finished five games this season, Thursday's was his first save opportunity. He's appeared in 17 games as a situational lefty and compiled a 1.27 ERA and a .181 opponents' batting average in 21 1/3 innings.

When he reached the mound after Saito limped off Thursday with the Braves clinging to the one-run lead, Cox had just one piece of advice for him.

"He told me, 'If you're going to throw a slider, throw it down," said Venters, who proved to be a good listener just a few seconds later.

Aside from the Braves' teasing and, yes, warm congratulations, Venters received several other messages.

"Quite a few," he said. "I had a bunch of texts last night when I came in. Mostly from family and friends."

As for the ball, it was safely tucked away on a shelf in his locker.

"That's probably going into a case," he said. "I never thought it would be like that -- if I even ever got a save."

Likes: Beautiful drawing of retiring Braves manager Bobby Cox on the cover of the Braves media guide. Nice angle, from behind Cox in the dugout as he's looking out onto the field at Turner Field. ... Really nice moment during batting practice Friday -- several moments, actually -- when Dodgers manager Joe Torre walked over to visit with Cox and the two future Hall of Fame managers spent 20 or so minutes sitting on the bench in the visitors' dugout, chatting. ... Got a chuckle earlier this week when, in the Mets' clubhouse, the song American Pie was blaring from an iPad in Alex Cora's locker. ... Henry Schulman, Giants beat writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, says Pittsburgh is a far better city than generally given credit for. I could not agree more. And the picture of this Primanti Bros. salami sandwich in his San Francisco Ball Scribe Blog made me wish I was sitting through that Pirates-Giants rain delay Friday night with one of those bad boys on a plate in front of me. ...

Dislikes: John Wooden, sleep well. Sad, sad day. If the world had more John Woodens, I guarantee you there would be far fewer problems. What a sweet and tear-jerking sentiment from former UCLA player Jamaal Wilkes, who said he was in the room with Wooden's son, James, when Wooden asked to be shaved, and noted that "his son made the comment that when he got shaved he was getting ready to see Nellie." Nell is Wooden's late and beloved wife, who died of cancer in 1975.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Don't give up on your dreams
"Or your dreams will give up on you"

-- John Wooden

Posted on: October 3, 2008 7:02 pm

Boston: Lowell out, Kotsay in for Game 2

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Boston manager Terry Francona's Game 2 lineup is in, and injured third baseman Mike Lowell is not in it.

Instead, the Red Sox will move Kevin Youklis to third base and have slotted Mark Kotsay at first. Also, Alex Cora is playing shortstop instead of Jed Lowrie.

Francona said removing Lowell, whose partially torn labrum in his right hip has reduced his effectiveness, was an agonizingly difficult decision. However, it was not a surprising decision when you consider the numbers.

Kotsay, who has struggled with the Red Sox, has a history of blistering Angels Game 2 starter Ervin Santana. Lifetime, Kotsay is 7-for-18 (.389) against Santana.

"That was a hard one for me," Francona said of removing Lowell. The manager said Lowell's condition did not worsen since Game 1, but that it is obvious he's "hurting."

"Getting to that decision was hard for me," Francona said. "That was a tough one."

As for Cora, Francona said he was leaning toward playing Cora in Game 2 entering the series.

"Just style of pitching," Francona said. "Ervin Santana, the way Cora swung, the way Lowrie swung at certain types of pitchers.

"I was leaning more toward that anyway, but you don't need to make that decision until you need to."

Cora has two hits in three lifetime at-bats against Santana. Lowrie has never faced him.

Angels manager Mike Scioscia, meanwhile, is going with catcher Jeff Mathis instead of Mike Napoli in Game 2. Santana was 14-4 with a 2.88 ERA this season when pitching to Mathis (16-6, 3.21 ERA overall).

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