Tim Hudson began his comeback from Tommy John surgery by throwing 2 scoreless innings for the Myrtle Beach Pelicans on Sunday. Hudson threw a total of 27 pitches (18 strikes) while recording 2 strikeouts against the Winston-Salem Warthogs. If all goes well, August 20th is the target date to return. Hudson hasn’t thrown a major league pitch since last July against the Marlins.
Hudson’s contract expires this year, but there is a $12 million club option for the 2010 season, which will almost definitely be exercised by the Braves. I can’t see any way that Hudson won’t be in the Braves starting rotation next year—but if so, who will be moved out? It won’t be Hanson or Jurrjens…that is certain. Derek Lowe signed a 4-year $60 million this year so it doesn’t look like he’s going anywhere. That leaves Kenshin Kawakami and Javier Vasquez.
Kawakami signed a three-year, $23 million deal this offseason. I don’t think the Braves are going to give up on him since he’s been lowering his ERA since a terrible outing in April against Cincinnati. I also don’t think they are going to pay someone $8 million to pitch middle relief. Let’s face it; these aren’t the Ted Turner days anymore. Vazquez has been arguably the Braves’ best starter this season, so dealing him would sting a little. That said— Vasquez is due to make $11.5 million next year, so unloading that salary would make the most sense for the Braves…that is if everyone stays healthy. The Braves have tried the Jo Jo Reyes project a few times and it still hasn’t worked as envisioned.
Kelly Johnson has been playing with AAA Gwinnett for the past 2 weeks, rehabbing his wrist. He put up good numbers hitting .308 3 HR 16 RBI. Johnson had a MONSTER game on Monday against the Norfolk Tides going 2-4 with 2HR and 7RBI. He drove in all the runs for Gwinnett in a 7-6 victory. Johnson was the Braves’ best second-half hitter last season; a season without too many bright sports.
On Thursday, the Braves activated KJ and optioned IF Brooks Conrad back to AAA Gwinnett. Johnson will serve primarily as a back-up to Martin Prado a 2B and could potentially play some OF—a position Johnson is familiar with, having played there for the Braves in the past.
Omar Infante is probably about 2 weeks away from starting a minor league rehab assignment after breaking his left hand in May against the Colorado Rockies. Infante was one of the only consistent hitters for the Braves before his injury hitting .349 1 HR 11 RBI. He’ll give the Braves even more depth off the bench, playing 2B, SS, 3B and OF, but more importantly, he can give Chipper Jones some rest during the dog days.
Buddy Carlyle began his minor league rehab assignment Monday with Gwinnett. He pitched one scoreless inning recording 2 of the 3 outs via strikeout. Carlyle has missed the past 2 months after being diagnosed with Type-1 Diabetes.
Carlyle initially went on the DL with a strained back, but after losing 20 lbs over a few weeks, he visited a Doctor and received his diagnosis. He has managed his condition by receiving daily insulin injections and has regained his strength. It appears as if Carlyle will be able to make a full return to the Braves once he regains his arm strength.
Jeff Bennett just had the pins in his left hand removed on Monday. Bennett had been a workhorse for the Braves prior to punching a door during a June game against the New York Yankees. Bennett broke his hand after giving up a home run to Nick Swisher, then pushed the bone back into place and went out the next inning to pitch. Hopefully this time off will give him arm (and psyche) some time to recover from the first three months of the season, as Bennett was seemingly in EVERY game for the Braves. After a couple weeks of healing time, Bennett should begin a rehab assignment for the Braves, most likely in AAA Gwinnett.
Jorge Campillo— well…there isn’t much to say about good ‘ol Jorge. Maybe it was the WBC. It seems every arm injury this season has been blamed on the pre-season tournament. Most likely it was Campillo’s increased innings pitched last season that led to arm troubles. Whatever it was, it doesn’t look like we are going to see Campillo throw another pitch this season.
The Braves have had their share of injuries this season, but is has been NOTHING like last year when the training room resembled a triage. They have been fairly lucky so far and will need to keep that luck to contend for a playoff spot.
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Until Next time…Go Braves (and stay healthy)!!!