Spring experience a benefit to Pastornicky
Braves' rookie shortstop collects triple for first big league hit
NEW YORK -- Tyler Pastornicky struggled to deal with the pressure he felt during the early weeks of Spring Training. But the night before making his Major League debut as the Braves' starting shortstop in front of a raucous Opening Day crowd, Pastornicky soundly slept in his Manhattan hotel room.
"I was just overly tired," Pastornicky said. "It's been kind of a long couple of days."
This has been quite a week for Pastornicky, who learned on Monday that he had won his battle against Andrelton Simmons to begin the year as Atlanta's starting shortstop. The 22-year-old infielder enjoyed seeing New York City for the first time on Wednesday.
But this week's greatest thrill occurred as he experienced his first big league game on Thursday afternoon at Citi Field. The debut proved memorable even though his contributions did not prevent the Braves from sustaining a 1-0 Opening Day loss to the Mets.
"I felt great," Pastornicky said. "I think I got all of my nerves out in Spring Training with that terrible start. I felt great. It was a tough game. But it was good to get the first one out of the way."
Pastornicky notched his first Major League hit with a seventh-inning triple off Ramon Ramirez. But his most encouraging plate appearance might have transpired in the fifth inning, when he fell behind with an 0-2 count and then drew a walk off Johan Santana. This led Santana to throw an additional 16 pitches and end his outing after escaping a bases-loaded jam in the fifth.
"That's one thing I had to learn in Spring Training -- hitting eighth with the pitcher behind you in a spot like that, you're probably not going to get many good pitches to hit," Pastornicky said. "So I had to definitely use patience there."
As Pastornicky ranged to his left to grab a second-inning grounder and helped turn a fourth-inning double play, his parents were watching from their stadium seats. The Blue Jays paid for Cliff Pastornicky and his wife, Jane, to travel to New York to see their son's debut. The elder Pastornicky is a professional scout for the Blue Jays.
"I can't believe they would do something like that," Pastornicky said. "It's awesome. That's classy."
Chipper hopes to return from DL when eligible
NEW YORK -- Encouraged by the progress he has made since undergoing left knee surgery on March 26, Chipper Jones believes there is a chance he will be ready to be activated from the disabled list when he becomes eligible on Tuesday. If not, he remains confident that he will be activated by the time the Braves play their April 13 home opener against the Brewers.
"If I am ready, I want to come off, plain and simple," Jones said. "Even if I don't feel like I can play nine innings of defense, I can still come off the bench and pinch-hit late if need be. We just have to wait and see. As I sit here right now, I'm not ready. But four days from now, I could be."
Jones will have an opportunity to test the knee when he takes live batting practice against Randall Delgado and Chad Durbin on Friday afternoon at Citi Field. The veteran third baseman, who will turn 40 on April 24, is hoping to compile enough at-bats during this simulated game setting to convince the Braves that he does not need play at least one Minor League game before being activated.
But the Braves believe he will likely need to make a rehab appearance. Jones had compiled just 25 at-bats in Spring Training before learning that he needed to undergo surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee.
Jones returned 16 days after undergoing the same surgical procedure on his right knee last July. But at that point, he had already experienced a full Spring Training and 329 regular-season plate appearances. "I'd like to stay away from going on a rehab," Jones said. "I'd like to stay with the club. But tomorrow is a good chance for me to get 10, 12 or 15 at-bats. I don't know how many at-bats I might get. But I certainly want to see some pitching and try to come out of the box on a few of them to see where we are."
Medlen shows his value out of the bullpen
NEW YORK -- Kris Medlen provided a glimpse of his value as a reliever while completing two scoreless innings in Thursday afternoon's 1-0 Opening Day loss to the Mets at Citi Field. The versatile Braves reliever escaped the sixth-inning jam he inherited unscathed and then worked a scoreless seventh inning.
"I'm just trying to help the team win with whatever I can do," Medlen said. "I ate up a couple of innings today, and it didn't work out for us score-wise. But everything felt good."
While the Braves understand Medlen could prove valuable as a starting pitcher, the belief remains that his presence as a reliever will allow him to provide a greater value to this team. He has the ability to occasionally be used in setup roles to spell Jonny Venters and Eric O'Flaherty.
Medlen will also often be used like he was on Thursday, when he entered after David Wright chased Tommy Hanson with an RBI single in the sixth inning. With two runners on and no outs, the fearless right-hander prevented any further damage by retiring the first three batters he faced. The 26-year-old right-hander exited after a scoreless seventh inning.
"It's definitely a comforting feeling having him come in behind you because of just what he did," Hanson said. "He does that every time it feels like. Obviously, I didn't want to come out of the game, but when I saw him coming in, it was OK."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.