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Gonzalez pushes all the buttons except panic

The Sports Xchange
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Manager Fredi Gonzalez had to pull out the big guns to put the Marlins away on Wednesday.

Not only did he have third baseman Chipper Jones starting a day game after a night game, but he also brought out his closing trio of left-hander Eric O'Flaherty, left-hander Jonny Venters and right-hander Craig Kimbrel.

This came one day after the team meeting Gonzalez said wasn't necessary.

What he really meant was that there was no reason to panic. But he didn't want the team drifting without direction, worrying, pressing.

And he didn't want them missing the moment, taking it for granted. Not that anyone was doing any of these things, except for the pressing, which almost all of them were, but sometimes the obvious needs to be said out loud.

The latest indication of the team's concern about the postseason, including how they'll nail it down and then get through it, is that right-hander Kris Medlen is planning to throw live batting practice on Saturday.

Medlen started out as a reliever, then, when pressed into duty as a starter last season after injuries to starters, he excelled. And then his elbow blew out. He underwent Tommy John surgery last Aug. 10.

The Braves already know they won't have right-hander Jair Jurrjens for the playoffs, even they aren't saying it for the record, but they know. So does he.

And they probably will not have right-hander Tommy Hanson, either, although there's an outside shot at that. Provided he makes at least one start in a regular season game.

Rookie right-hander Brandon Beachy and left-hander Mike Minor have stepped into the breach, but they and veteran right-hander Derek Lowe aren't pitching deep into games.

That's putting a lot of innings on the bullpen. That Medlen is even in the picture at this point shows just how deep the Braves' concern is.

Copyright (C) 2011 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.

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