Notes: Paronto back in the bigs
Right-hander last played in Majors in 2003 with Cleveland
MIAMI -- The Braves on Tuesday promoted a little-known 30-year-old reliever from Richmond, a move that normally wouldn't cause much of a stir. But Chad Paronto, the reliever in question, appears to be a markedly improved pitcher over the one who spent more than two years looking for a baseball job.
First, Paronto is an imposing 6-foot-5 and 260 pounds.
"I thought he played for the Miami Dolphins when he came in," said manager Bobby Cox before the Braves commenced a three-game series against the Marlins.
Second, Paronto, who said he is capable of throwing a 96-mph fastball, has decided to live in the 90- to 94-mph range in order to improve his control. And the results are, well, striking. In 17 2/3 innings for Triple-A Richmond, the hulking right-hander has a 1.02 ERA and 15 strikeouts to go with his four saves.
Paronto will replace Horatio Ramirez, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left hamstring.
"Probably, in the last three years, it finally sunk into my head that I didn't have to throw the ball as hard as I could to get outs," said Paronto. "If you get behind 3-1, it doesn't really matter how hard you throw. I want to keep the ball down and work ahead of hitters."
Paronto last played in the Majors in 2003, with Cleveland, but the Indians parted ways with him at midseason after he posted a 10.16 ERA in 6 2/3 innings. Since then he's been "scratching," as he says, to find his way back to the big time.
"I hear he's been super down there [at Richmond]," said Cox. "Looks like he's got it together real good."
Even so, Paronto's time with the Braves may be limited. Ramirez, recovered from the hamstring strain that has kept him out since April 5, pitched the first of three scheduled rehab starts on Monday. He went three innings for Richmond against Columbus, giving up a run on six hits.
Ramirez, who threw 48 pitches in that outing, plans to pitch four innings on Saturday in Rome, Ga., and will then have one more unspecified start before he is likely to return to the Braves.
"The first two innings were pretty weird," said Ramirez in the Braves' clubhouse of his return to the mound. "I felt like I hadn't been out there in a year. But my arm strength was there. I didn't get tired at all."
Ramirez instinctively sprinted near the third-base line to field a swinging bunt early in the game, and said that his hamstring felt fine.
"I didn't even think about my leg at all," he said.
As Ramirez talked, closer Chris Reitsma walked by and playfully massaged his teammate's left hamstring for maybe 15 seconds. Ramirez just smiled.
As for Paronto, he never found out how far his intimidating physique could have taken him in football. He attended a New Hampshire high school of about 200 students, and no football team.
"I think I could have played tight end," he said, "because I have some soft hands."
Paronto will happily settle for having a chance to take that intimidating look to the mound for the Braves.
Jones back in lineup: Andruw Jones was back in center field for the Braves on Tuesday night after injuring his lower back on Friday night and leaving Saturday's game early. He sat out on Sunday, and the Braves had a day off on Monday.
"It was good to take a little time off," said Jones. "I could have played on Sunday, but one more day was good. I just landed awkwardly at home plate, and it hurt for a while. I fell in a hole -- that's what it felt like."
Cox said that it was good for Jones to have had more than 72 hours off before he had to play again.
Renteria on a roll: Shortstop Edgar Renteria, who has a Major League-best 24-game hitting streak, had been 0-for-11 against the Marlins' Tuesday starter, Brian Moehler, before hitting a double off the right-hander in the first inning. Renteria said that he doesn't remember much about facing Moehler.
"I just know if you're struggling, anybody can get you out," said Renteria. "And baseball can be a funny game. You might hit the ball hard four times and make all outs, and then get a bloop for a hit."
But, he added, "This is the best I've felt hitting in a long time."
In brief: Cox moved Brian McCann to fifth in the batting order on Tuesday, dropping slumping first baseman Adam LaRoche to seventh. "I've been thinking about doing it for three weeks," said Cox. "Maybe it'll help both of them." ... Cox said that he would talk with John Smoltz, who pitched on Sunday on short rest, before deciding whether to pitch him on Friday or Saturday. Jorge Sosa would go on the day that Smoltz doesn't choose.
Coming up: Josh Johnson (2-2, 3.78 ERA), a 6-foot-7 right-hander, will make his second start of the season when the Marlins face Kyle Davies (2-2, 4.91 ERA) and the Braves on Wednesday at Dolphin Stadium at 7:05 p.m. ET.
Charlie Nobles is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.