We all know it's a long season and it's early. But it is a measure of Chipper Jones' concern about the Braves' offense that he talked his way into the lineup against the Padres on Monday.
He needn't have bothered. He was 0-for-3 before coming out of the game. The Braves were down 14-0 at the time and went on to lose 17-2.
There really was no reason for Jones to rush things. The Braves have an off day Tuesday, and surely his strained right oblique muscle would have benefited from two more days of rest, particularly in view of the fact that Jones got a cortisone shot for the strain after the April 8 game.
The problem was compounded when he first began to swing tentatively in San Francisco. His back seized up. With the wretched weather conditions in San Francisco over the weekend, Jones wasn't able to test his oblique either by swinging at hard, live pitching, or by taking groundballs at game speed.
So why did Jones pester hitting coach Terry Pendleton to intercede on his behalf and make manager Bobby Cox change the posted starting lineup?
Jones likes to joke that he can't stand sitting on the bench next to Cox. But the reality is that despite the early euphoria surrounding this team -- primarily because of rookie Jason Heyward -- Jones has questions in his own mind about the offense. That's especially so because first baseman Troy Glaus, who was supposed to be providing the power in this lineup, has started poorly.
The good news is that Jones was no worse after the game than before.
PADRES 17, BRAVES 2:
RHP Jair Jurrjens couldn't command his fastball and couldn't control his changeup. The game was over after the 10-run fourth inning.
--3B Chipper Jones talked his way into the lineup after lobbying manager Bobby Cox hard, via hitting coach Terry Pendleton. Jones had to show Cox in batting practice that not only his strained right oblique was good to go but also that he was flexible enough after feeling back spasms -- when he started swinging -- to field his position. Jones knows he should take more time with both injuries -- and the Braves have an off day Tuesday. But it's eating at him that the Braves aren't hitting much.
--RHP Jair Jurrjens lasted only 3 1/3 innings, unable to command his fastball and unable to control his changeup. He thinks he's not staying back long enough and is rushing his delivery. "Everything I threw up there was a hit-me ball," he said.
--2B Martin Prado ended the first week of the season leading the National League with a .542 batting average. He's had at least one hit in every game of this young season.
--RHP Kenshin Kawakami was having none of it when told how glowingly manager Bobby Cox is speaking of his performance Sunday against the Giants. Kawakami needed only 65 pitches to complete six innings but was taken out for a pinch hitter because the Braves needed offense. Kawakami thinks he should have pitched even better so no more offense would have been needed.
--1B Troy Glaus was 0-for-4 with the bases loaded before getting an RBI by being hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the seventh inning of the Saturday game against the Giants. But he did drive in one of the Braves' two runs Monday in a 17-2 blowout loss.
BY THE NUMBERS:
7 -- Career-high walks issued by RHP Derek Lowe against the Giants on April 10. He got the win.
QUOTE TO NOTE:
"Don't think, just throw. That's pretty much the mentality." -- LHP Billy Wagner on what it takes to be a closer.
--3B Chipper Jones (strained right oblique) got a cortisone shot April 9. He did not play April 9-11. He returned to the lineup April 12.
--CF Jordan Schafer (left wrist surgery in September 2009) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 26. He is expected to go to Class AAA Gwinnett when he is game-ready.
--INF Diory Hernandez (left shoulder surgery in February 2010) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 26. He is expected to be out until at least midseason.
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