Jurrjens confident after adjustments
Right-hander seeking to regain velocity, control
ATLANTA -- Jair Jurrjens completed a lengthy bullpen session on Thursday afternoon at PETCO Park, and the right-hander walked away even more convinced that his right shoulder is healthy and that some mechanical adjustments will provide him the velocity and control that he lacked against the Padres on Monday.
"I was leaning a lot, and my direction was really off," Jurrjens said. "I just need to try to slow it down and stay more on the rubber. Then I can be on top of the ball, and that should help my location."
Jurrjens allowed a career-high eight earned runs to the Padres, and his fastball rested between 87 and 89 mph, approximately two or three mph slower than usual. There was some reason to wonder if he was battling some of the discomfort that was present when he reported to Spring Training with an inflamed right shoulder.
But Jurrjens, who had allowed two earned runs or fewer in 27 of his previous 35 starts, said that he didn't experience any discomfort the day after the outing or on Thursday, when he and pitching coach Roger McDowell worked on mechanics during a bullpen session that lasted nearly 30 minutes.
Because of his shoulder issues, Jurrjens was nearly two weeks behind with his regular Spring Training preparations, but the 24-year-old isn't using that as an excuse.
"If I wasn't ready, I should have told them I wasn't ready during Spring Training," he said. "I have no soreness and no problems. I have all my strength, and I'm doing all my programs. Now I just need to take it to the game."
Venters back in Braves' bullpen
ATLANTA -- Looking to find the positives after his team had just been no-hit by Ubaldo Jimenez during Saturday night's 4-0 loss to the Rockies, Braves manager Bobby Cox took time to praise the successful Major League debut that Jonny Venters had just experienced.
After Kenshin Kawakami lasted just five innings, Venters limited the Rockies to one hit in three scoreless innings. Just 24 hours earlier, the 25-year-old left-hander had learned that he would receive his first call to the Majors.
"The first inning, the nerves were pretty strong, but getting that first out really helped out a lot," said the noticeably still-excited Venters, who opened the sixth by getting Ian Stewart to fly out to left field.
Venters, who battled for an Opening Day roster spot through the last week of Spring Training, set down nine of the 11 batters that he faced. He surrendered a two-out seventh-inning single to Todd Helton and issued a two-out eighth-inning walk to Stewart.
"The guy who really impressed me tonight in his debut was Jonny Venters," Cox said. "[His] 95 [mph] fastball with sink like he's got is something special. He was perfect tonight."
Venters, who impressed the Braves with his sinker during Spring Training, allowed one run in the 6 2/3 innings he completed for Triple-A Gwinnett this year. The 25-year-old left-hander essentially fills the bullpen spot originally given to Jo-Jo Reyes, who hyperextended his right knee while allowing nine earned runs and 10 hits in 3 1/3 innings of Monday's loss to the Padres.
Had Venters not started for Gwinnett on Monday night, the Braves would have likely had him fill the roster spot when Reyes was placed on the disabled list on Thursday. But they instead asked Mike Dunn to provide insurance in the bullpen for two days until Venters was ready to pitch again.
This marks the first time that Venters has been promoted to the Majors. After signing with the Braves in 2004, he battled elbow ailments in each of his first five professional seasons. During his only completely healthy season, last year, he pitched for both Double-A Mississippi and Gwinnett. Right-handers tagged Venters for a .291 batting average, but left-handers were limited to a .235 mark.
From 'My Little Pony' to 'Hannah Montana'
ATLANTA -- When Kris Medlen learned that Jonny Venters had been promoted from Triple-A Gwinnett on Saturday, he knew it was time to go to Target to buy the newest member of Atlanta's bullpen a welcoming gift.
Since joining the big league squad last June, Medlen had been assigned the duty of putting drinks, candy and a variety of other items in a pink "My Little Pony" backpack that he was forced to carry to the bullpen on a nightly basis.
With the "My Little Pony" backpack retired, Venters will carry these items in a blue "Hannah Montana" backpack that Medlen purchased on his way to Turner Field for Saturday night's game against the Rockies.
"I was deliberating between a baby-blue Tinkerbell one, and then I saw that one and said, 'Yeah, definitely that one' because [Hannah Montana] is cool," Medlen said.
Medlen had some fun with this assignment, issuing request sheets that allowed the more-tenured relievers to request what they wanted placed in the bag.
So what was the most original request?
"[Former Braves closer] Mike Gonzalez used to like to use smelling salts while he was warming up, so I threw some in there for him," Medlen said.
Prado has history in his sights
ATLANTA -- Martin Prado still isn't feeling comfortable at the plate, but the second baseman is having some fun with the fact that he has spent the past couple of days matching some of the same Atlanta records that Deion Sanders compiled during his hot start to the 1992 season.
Prado entered Saturday night's game against the Rockies needing just one hit to match the Atlanta record of 20 through the first 11 games played in a season. Ralph Garr set the mark in 1971, and Sanders matched it in 1992.
During Wednesday night's game in San Diego, Prado became the first player in Atlanta history to record 15 hits through the first eight games of a season. With a two-hit performance in Thursday's series finale with the Padres, he matched Dale Murphy (1985) and Sanders ('92) for the Atlanta record for hits (17) through the first nine games.
Then, with another multihit game in Friday's series opener against the Rockies, Prado joined Sanders as the only players in Atlanta history to compile 19 hits through their first 10 games of the season.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.