Tag:Jason Heyward
Posted on: August 5, 2011 10:50 pm
Edited on: August 5, 2011 10:53 pm
 

Constanza (call him George) has Braves talking

NEW YORK -- The first thing you need to know about Jose Constanza is he was a free agent last winter.

A minor-league free agent, after spending seven years in the minor leagues with the Indians.

The second thing you need to know is that he might well be the fastest player in baseball.

"A [Jose] Reyes-like weapon," Braves pitcher Tim Hudson said.

The third thing you need to know is that 27-year-old Constanza has impressed the Braves so much in his first seven big-league games, there's a real good chance that he's going to keep playing and Jason Heyward is going to find himself on the bench. Constanza is 11-for-27 (.407), after getting two more hits in the Braves' 4-1 win over the Mets' Friday night.

Oh, and the last thing you need to know?

It's OK to call him George, after the Seinfeld character of the (almost) same name. His teammates already call him that. He said he doesn't mind (and says he understands what it's about).

The Braves called up Constanza from Triple-A Gwinnett when both their center fielders (Nate McLouth and Jordan Schafer) got hurt. Then they traded for Michael Bourn to play center field, but with Martin Prado filling in for the injured Chipper Jones at third base, they still had a spot open in the outfield.

Now Jones is expected back Saturday night, which moves Prado back to left field. And leaves manager Fredi Gonzalez with the question of whether to play Constanza or Heyward in right field.

At the moment, it's not much of a question. The struggling Heyward is hitting .221.

Gonzalez wouldn't commit to an answer Friday night, but you can tell where this is going.

"[Constanza] has put himself in a position where you've got to think about playing him," Gonzalez said. "You've got to think about it."

You've got to do more than think about it. You've got to do it.

Here's a guess that Gonzalez will do just that.

Category: MLB
Posted on: July 25, 2010 10:39 pm
 

3 to watch: The Draw of power edition

Scott Boras says people are drawn to power, as in power pitching or power hitting. He says it's why everyone seems to want to see power pitcher Stephen Strasburg (a client of his), and he argues that it will also be true with top draft pick and power hitter Bryce Harper (another client).

Fair enough, but if people really are drawn to power, they should be drawn to the Alex Rodriguez (also a client) push for 600 home runs.

So far, the feeling is that they haven't been, at least not nationally and only to a small extent locally. But it was hard to tell last week, because the Yankees were playing at home and they always draw near-capacity crowds, chase or no chase.

There were some signs that fans in New York cared, based on the noise and flashbulbs that accompanied each A-Rod at-bat after he reached 599 on Thursday night, and by the disappointment when an A-Rod at-bat after that ended without a home run.

But no newspapers from outside the area staffed the try for 600. No national television crews showed up.

So here's the question: With A-Rod taking the chase to Cleveland, will Indians fans show in anything like the numbers they did to see Strasburg pitch at Progressive Field last month?

The Strasburg game, on a Sunday afternoon, drew 32,876, which is still the only Indians crowd of more than 26,000 since opening day. The Indians are last in baseball in attendance (yes, behind even the Marlins).

Strasburg's first nine starts have averaged 36,351, and more of the games have been on some form of national television.

On to 3 to watch:

1. So what are the chances that A-Rod gets to 600 in Yankees at Indians, Monday night (7:05 EDT) at Progressive Field ? Well, he's a .375 career hitter against Tribe starter Jake Westbrook, but that includes just one home run in 24 at-bats. And what are the chances that the A-Rod chase for 600 goes on beyond this three-game series in Cleveland? Well, A-Rod went homerless in 15 at-bats in a four-game series in Cleveland last year, and he went homerless in 13 at-bats in a four-game series in Cleveland the year before. In all, he's homerless in his last 32 at-bats at Progressive Field. Either that means he's due, or it means the chase will head for Tampa Bay this weekend. At least we know that A-Rod will play this week, or at least that he plans to. After he was hit on the hand by a pitch Sunday, Rodriguez said there was "no question" he would be in the lineup Monday.

2. When the Angels traded for Dan Haren on Sunday, manager Mike Scioscia told reporters that there's a chance Haren's first Angel start will come right away, in Red Sox at Angels, Monday night (10:05 EDT) at Angel Stadium . If Haren starts instead on Tuesday, he would face ex-Angel John Lackey in Lackey's first Anaheim start as a visitor. Either way, Haren's second Angels start could be just as interesting, because there's a chance that it would be next Sunday night, against Rangers acquisition Cliff Lee.

3. Strasburg's first nine starts have been against nine different opponents. That streak ends with Strasburg's next start, in Braves at Nationals, Tuesday night (7:05 EDT) at Nationals Park . But this will be Strasburg's first meeting with fellow hyped rookie Jason Heyward, because Heyward went on the disabled list on June 28, the same night Strasburg lost 5-0 to the Braves in Atlanta. Remember, that was the game when Ian Desmond couldn't turn a double play that might have allowed Strasburg to hold the Braves scoreless through seven innings.

Posted on: June 30, 2010 5:54 pm
Edited on: June 30, 2010 6:42 pm
 

Heyward could be a BP All-Star

ATLANTA -- Because of the bruised left thumb that landed him on the disabled list, Jason Heyward won't play in the All-Star Game.

You might still get to see him swing a bat in Anaheim.

The Braves hope to activate Heyward immediately after the All-Star break, and Heyward said today that while he still doesn't think it would be right to play in the game, he may take batting practice with the National League team. Heyward is second among NL outfielders in the latest voting, and he's almost certain to be elected to the team.

Heyward injured the thumb on a slide into third base on May 14. He played with the injury for more than a month, but last weekend the Braves decided that it would only improve with some extended time off. Heyward now has a cast on his left hand, but the cast should be removed next week and the tentative plan is for Heyward to take batting practice with the Braves when the team is in New York July 9-11.

And that should set him up to take BP in Anaheim, as well.

Braves manager Bobby Cox suggested that the All-Star Game might "be a good tuneup for him," but Heyward said that if he's not able to play for the Braves before the game (and he won't), he shouldn't play in the All-Star Game, either.

Category: MLB
Posted on: June 28, 2010 11:00 pm
Edited on: June 28, 2010 11:05 pm
 

Braves put Heyward on DL

ATLANTA -- The Braves have put rookie right fielder Jason Heyward on the disabled list, in hopes that two more weeks off will help heal the deep bone bruise in his left thumb.

The Braves said Heyward's thumb will be put in a cast on Tuesday, but that he is expected to return to the lineup on July 15, the first day after the All-Star break. Heyward has been among the leaders in the National League All-Star voting, but the trip to the DL is expected to keep him from playing in the July 13 game.

Heyward hurt the thumb last month when he jammed it on a base while sliding. His numbers suffered while he played with the injury, and after holding him out of the lineup over the weekend, the Braves had him take an MRI exam on Monday.

Category: MLB
Posted on: June 27, 2010 9:21 pm
 

3 to watch: The Non-dome-field advantage edition

So maybe it wasn't the blowers.

And maybe it wasn't the bouncy turf, or the goofy roof. Maybe it wasn't the Metrodome at all.

Check the record: Last year, at the Metrodome, the Twins started off 23-13 at home. This year, at Target Field, the Twins have started off 23-13 at home.

"I think they're just a great home team," Tigers catcher Gerald Laird suggested.

"You look at all good teams," longtime Twin Michael Cuddyer said. "They all win at home."

He's right, of course. But for years, when the Twins won so much at the Metrodome, we always wanted to give the building half the credit. Or half the blame, as opposing players did when they accused the Twins of manipulating the air blowers to create a jet stream when the Twins were hitting.

"You can't do that outdoors," Cuddyer said with a smile.

There is something they can do outdoors. They can put nearly 40,000 Minnesotans in the stands, creating what general manager Bill Smith describes as "a high-energy experience."

It'll be high-energy again this week, when the Twins return from a typical 3-6 road trip for an important series against the Tigers. The Twins hold a half-game lead over the Tigers (and a 1 1/2-game lead over the White Sox) in the American League Central.

The Tigers, who went winless in their first Target Field visit last month, know what to expect.

"Everyone wanted to say before that it was because of the Dome, or whatever," Tigers third baseman Brandon Inge said. "You know, they just have a good ballclub. What kind of [unusual] advantage can they get now? It's a normal ballpark, a great ballpark."

Or, as Laird said, "I don't think there's any excuses anymore."

And there would be no excuse for leaving Tigers-Twins off this week's edition of 3 to watch:

1. Jason Heyward is getting his sore left thumb examined Monday afternoon, so there's a good chance that the first-ever Heyward-Stephen Strasburg matchup will wait for another day. But Strasburg's start, in Nationals at Braves, Monday night (7:10 EDT) at Turner Field , is notable anyway, and not just because we promised to highlight every Strasburg start. For one thing, it's still his first-ever start against a first-place team. For another, his opponent is Tim Hudson, who has been one of the best pitchers in the National League this year.

2. Since the start of last year, the Tigers are 2-11 in the state of Minnesota (indoors and outdoors), but five of the losses were by one run, and in five of the losses the Tigers led in the seventh inning or later. So if any Strasburg start is can't-miss, so is Tigers-Twins, at the Metrodome or Target Field. That the teams are separated by just half a game in the standings only makes Tigers at Twins, Monday night (8:10 EDT) at Target Field , that much more interesting.

3. Remember, the Rays were supposed to have had the easy interleague schedule (no games vs. 2009 playoff teams). They went 7-11, had a no-hitter thrown against them and fought among themselves. The Red Sox were supposed to have the tough interleague schedule (four series vs. 2009 playoff teams). They went 13-5, good enough to move into second place (ahead of the Rays) in the AL East. So now the Rays arrive in Boston, for a two-game series that begins with Rays at Red Sox, Tuesday night (7:10 EDT) at Fenway Park . The Red Sox already have Dustin Pedroia, Josh Beckett and Jacoby Ellsbury on the disabled list, and by gametime Tuesday Victor Martinez could be there, too. Is that good for the Rays? Sorry, we're done making predictions.
Posted on: June 25, 2010 10:26 am
 

3 to watch: The Wrong place, wrong time edition

If we're going to have one final weekend of interleague play, we may as well have Dodgers-Yankees.

Too bad they put it in the wrong place.

Too bad that right before, or right after, Manny in Boston we didn't get Joe in New York.

Joe Torre against the Yankees is a nice little side story. Joe Torre against the Yankees in Yankee Stadium would have been a must-watch.

"It certainly would have been something that would have been exciting," Torre said last weekend. "There's no question."

A Torre appearance in Yankee Stadium wouldn't have presented Yankee fans with the same conflicted feelings that Manny Ramirez in Fenway Park presented the people of Boston. But it sure would have been interesting to see how Yankee management reacted, given the 2007 breakup and the Yankees' reluctance ever since then to acknowledge that Torre was such of big part of their recent history.

Torre against the Yankees at Dodger Stadium doesn't have the same feel. With the exception of Alex Rodriguez, the Yankee players have professed their love for their former manager (and vice-versa). There will be hugs all around.

And as for Torre at Yankee Stadium, there's always the World Series. Torre likes to remind people that the Dodgers were two wins away from giving him that return last October.

"That would have been pretty wild," he said.

It could still happen, but given the likelihood that Torre leaves the Dodgers after this season, it would probably need to happen this October.

In any case, Dodgers-Yankees is one of a few potential World Series previews on this final-weekend interleague schedule. You've also got Twins-Mets, Rockies-Angels and Tigers-Braves, as you can see on this weekend's edition of 3 to watch:

1. The Tigers don't say that Brennan Boesch is going to have a better career than Jason Heyward. But they do like to point out that right now, Boesch has better numbers than Heyward. In any case, in a year where the rookie class has been heavily tilted towards the National League, the Tigers are the exception, with an outstanding rookie class of their own. They'll show off another one -- 22-year-old left-hander Andy Oliver -- in Tigers at Braves, Friday night (7:35 EDT) at Turner Field . One rival scout who saw Oliver recently at Double-A Erie said "his stuff is electric," and predicted that at the very least the Tigers would use him as a nasty left-on-left reliever in September. Now, with Rick Porcello getting a tune-up at Triple-A Toledo, Oliver gets his chance early.

2. Torre made his feelings about the Dodger rotation known late in spring training, when he named Vicente Padilla as his opening day starter. No one -- then or now -- would call Padilla the Dodgers ace, but in Yankees at Dodgers, Friday night (10:10 EDT) at Dodger Stadium , he opposes Yankee ace CC Sabathia. It's hard to imagine the Dodgers spending money to add a true ace this summer, but it's hard to imagine them getting to that Torre-in-New York World Series without one.

3. We don't get Torre in New York, and we also don't get Johan in Minnesota, because Johan Santana's first-ever meeting with his former team comes in Twins at Mets, Saturday afternoon (1:10 EDT) at Citi Field . Oh well. At least we get Carl in New York. That's Carl Pavano, who starts for the Twins Saturday, and presents us with this question: When he gets booed, will it be because of the Mets fans who always boo any current or former Yankee (even Phil Coke of the Tigers on Thursday night), or will it be Yankee fans, who with good reason never warmed up to the guy who basically stole money from them for four years? One other starter who will be on the minds of fans of both of these teams: Cliff Lee. If the Twins and Mets are going to meet in October, you've got to figure that means one of them has traded for the left-hander whose presence in Philadelphia prevented Dodgers-Yankees last October.
Posted on: June 6, 2010 8:31 pm
 

3 to watch: The Perfect prospects edition

The two biggest early-season trends in baseball, we said last week, were perfect games and imperfect umpires.

We missed a trend: Perfect prospects.

Jason Heyward. Stephen Strasburg. Mike Stanton.

And don't forget Bryce Harper.

Monday, the Nationals are expected to use the first pick of the draft on Harper, touted as the best power-hitting prospect scouts have seen in ages. Tuesday, the Nationals will show off Strasburg, touted as the best pitching prospect anyone has ever seen. That same night, the Marlins will show off Stanton, who is only leading all of professional baseball in home runs.

Take it a day farther, and you have Stanton and the Marlins facing Roy Halladay on Wednesday, just 11 days after Halladay's perfect game in Florida.

So there you have it, the perfect convergence, with one of the perfect game pitchers facing one of the perfect prospects.

Let's hope that doesn't mean we're headed for more imperfect umpiring.

On to this week's 3 to watch:

1. The Nationals attracted their biggest crowd since opening day last Friday, which if you remember was the rumored day for Strasburg's debut. A much bigger crowd is expected for Pirates at Nationals, Tuesday night (7:05 EDT) at Nationals Park , since this really is going to be Strasburg's debut. What, you thought everyone just wants to see the Pirates? The Washington Post suggested it's the "most buzzed-about happening" in Washington since the Obama inauguration. That might be a little much, but you get the idea -- this is a big deal.

2. So if Armando Galarraga throws a no-hitter, in Tigers at White Sox, Tuesday night (8:10 EDT) at U.S. Cellular Field , does he count as having tied Johnny Vander Meer? Or actually one-upped him, since neither of Vander Meer's back-to-back no-hitters was a perfect game, let alone a 28-out perfect game? One more thing to think about, in the admittedly very unlikely event that Galarraga is perfect again: Before last Wednesday, Tigers manager Jim Leyland had been planning to skip Galarraga's turn this time through the rotation.

3. Thanks to Stanton, who hit 21 home runs in 52 games at Double-A Jacksonville, the Marlins lineup that Halladay will face, in Marlins at Phillies, Wednesday night (7:05 EDT) at Citizens Bank Park , will not be the same one he faced on May 29 in Miami. But at least it's still the same team. Of the last 11 pitchers to pitch a perfect game (not including Galarraga), Halladay will be just the second to face the same team later in the same year. The only other pitcher to do it in the division play era (i.e. since 1969) was David Wells in 1998. Three months after his May 17 perfect game against the Twins, he saw them again -- and shut them out again, this time on four hits.
Posted on: May 16, 2010 8:27 pm
 

3 to watch: The Ignoring the rivalry edition

The Yankees are playing the Red Sox, and you couldn't care less.

The Yankees are playing the Red Sox, and you can't believe that other network is showing them again.

The Yankees are playing the Red Sox, and just as a favor to you, we're not including them in this week's 3 to watch (although, if you must know, the second-place Yankees host the fourth-place Red Sox Monday and Tuesday, before hosting the first-place Rays Wednesday and Thursday):

1. One last Yankee-Red Sox reference: The Yankees lost their first eight meetings with the Red Sox last year, and in the end it meant nothing. So perhaps it means nothing that the Giants have lost their first six meetings with the Padres this year, scoring just eight runs in those six games. They haven't scored in two games against Tuesday night starter Mat Latos, and they've also lost twice to Clayton Richard, who starts in Giants at Padres, Monday night (10:05 EDT) at Petco Park .

2. For all their early-season troubles, the Angels are 2 1/2 games out of first place in the American League West. They just swept three games from one of the teams ahead of them (the A's), and now they get a chance at the other one, in Angels at Rangers, Tuesday night (8:05 EDT) at Rangers Ballpark . Vladimir Guerrero always looked forward to these Angels-Rangers series when he played for the Angels. Now he gets a chance from the other side.

3. Jason Heyward was everyone's preseason pick for National League Rookie of the Year. Mike Leake was nobody's. Heyward has eight home runs and 28 RBIs, so he's got a real chance. Leake is 4-0 with a 3.09 ERA for the first-place Reds, so you've got to say he has a chance, too. All of which should make Reds at Braves, Thursday afternoon (1:05 EDT) at Turner Field interesting.

At least as interesting as Yankees-Red Sox.

 
 
 
 
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