Jurrjens closer to making rehab start
Braves righty throws another pain-free 'pen session
ATLANTA -- After experiencing another pain-free bullpen session on Monday afternoon, Braves righty Jair Jurrjens grew excited about the possibility that he could be less than two weeks away from making a Minor League rehab start.
Jurrjens, who has been sidelined since April 29 with a strained left hamstring, will travel with Atlanta to the West Coast later this week to continue his rehab program. If the 24-year-old right-hander proves capable of completing a few more side sessions and a live batting practice session in pain-free fashion, he could make his first rehab start late next week.
"I feel normal," Jurrjens said after Monday's 40-pitch side session. "I just need to get back to getting my conditioning back up and trying to get my location back on my pitches. I've thrown two bullpens in a row with no pain, and I just need to keep building it up right now."
Jurrjens will continue throwing bullpen sessions on an every-other-day basis and also begin to test the strength of his leg with fielding exercises that will require him to push himself while covering first base. Once he completes these hurdles, he will be cleared to make the first of what will be at least two rehab starts.
Even if it is determined that Jurrjens needs to make three rehab starts, it appears he would still be in position to rejoin the rotation before the end of June.
"It would be like making a major trade," manager Bobby Cox said in reference to Jurrjens, who went 14-10 while posting the National League's third-best ERA (2.60) last year.
This has been a tough year for Jurrjens, who went 0-3 with a 6.38 ERA in five starts before suffering the hamstring strain. He reported to Spring Training with inflammation around his right shoulder and then jammed his right hand during an exhibition season at-bat. The latter ailment caused him to have trouble getting a feel for his grip during his first few regular-season starts.
Glaus closes out red-hot month of May
ATLANTA -- As Braves starter Tommy Hanson stood at his locker after Monday afternoon's 9-3 win against the Phillies, a reporter asked, "Do you think Troy Glaus wants May to end?"
Hanson could laugh. Opposing pitchers weren't able to do the same while watching Glaus hit .330 with six homers and a .942 OPS this month. In Monday's win, Glaus capped his productive month with a three-run homer in the seventh inning that gave the Braves a six-run cushion as they cruised into first place in the National League East standings.
Entering the day, Glaus had compiled more RBIs in May than any other NL player. This was quite a contrast to the struggles he endured in April, when he hit .194, collected nine RBIs and heard boos from the home fans, who were seeking instant production from their newly acquired first baseman.
"He's had an unbelievable month," third baseman Chipper Jones said. "You talk about 28 RBIs in a month. I've never had a month like that. I don't know if I've even had 20 in a month."
McLouth altering batting stance
ATLANTA -- Braves manager Bobby Cox displayed particular interest while Nate McLouth took batting practice before Monday afternoon's game against the Phillies.
When the struggling center fielder was done taking his swings, he looked toward the bench, got Cox's attention and simply nodded his head in confident fashion.
While comparing video footage earlier this week, Atlanta hitting coach Terry Pendleton noticed that McLouth's batting stance has grown much wider than it was during his successful days with the Pirates. As a result, he has been fighting to gain leverage from his back leg and in the process reducing his ability to catch up to fastballs.
"We're really just trying to bring him back, get him in a more upright position and get both his stance and stride shorter to get in that position he was in a couple of years ago," Pendleton said.
McLouth struggled through Spring Training and provided only a glimmer of promise while notching three multihit games during a five-game stretch earlier this month. But entering Monday, the 28-year-old outfielder had recorded just three hits in his previous 30 at-bats.
Kawakami's bat flip impresses Hudson
ATLANTA -- Tim Hudson recorded more hits (seven) in May than Kenshin Kawakami has notched (six) in his entire career. But Kawakami certainly drew the attention of each of the other members of the Braves' starting rotation on Sunday afternoon after he directed his first career double off the left-center-field wall and then flipped his bat in the manner of an accomplished hitter.
"That was awesome," Hudson said. "I've got to work on that. In fact, he should have made some money on that flip. We should have had a bet on the best pimp job of the year."
Following the lead of Greg Maddux, John Smoltz and Tom Glavine, this year's rotation is also staging a competition amongst themselves to determine who contributes the most from the offensive end. While Derek Lowe has delivered a team-high five sacrifice bunts, Hudson is leading the way with a .280 batting average.
Hudson will carry a four-game hitting streak into Tuesday night's start against the Phillies. In his past seven starts, he has batted .368 (7-for-19) with two doubles and a pair of infield singles.
"Everybody is going to run into a hit every now and then," Hudson said. "Let's be honest, of all the hits I have, there are maybe just two of them that are legit. There's a couple of swinging bunts in there and one where I got beat and found a hole. It's not like I'm Wade Boggs or anything."
Braves honor veterans on Memorial Day
ATLANTA -- Captain Chet Malarz stood in a private suite next to the Braves' dugout on Memorial Day and remembered. It had been 68 years since he'd enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps, but the memories hadn't faded.
On cue, the World War II veteran reminisced about volunteering for the military after Pearl Harbor. He told of building airplanes at a job before the war and how he thought, "I'm going to fly those airplanes someday." And he spoke of his initial acceptance into flight training. But even through all these special memories, even after he had served dutifully for his country while flying through England during combat, Malarz still paused to give thanks to those who continue to serve today.
"I've been really privileged to be invited in with this group," Malarz said. "It's good to know that other people are thinking about the military. I'm so proud and thankful."
Malarz, along with more than 250 soldiers on the field -- and many more in the stands -- were honored before the start of Monday afternoon's Braves-Phillies contest at Turner Field. The pregame festivities included a one-by-one introduction of five soldiers who received Purple Hearts during five different wars -- with Malarz receiving one during World War II, the playing of Taps, a 21-gun salute and a moment of silence.
While the festivities occurred, active duty soliders from Fort Benning, Moody Air Force Base, Warner Robins Air Force Base and Fort Gordon stood along the basepaths. The Braves and Phillies sported white hats with patriotic logos to commemorate the day, while Major General Michael Ferriter, the Commanding General at Fort Bunning, threw out the ceremonial first pitch to Braves first-base coach Glenn Hubbard.
"We've done [the military celebrations] before, but this is a continuation of our view and our honorary of the people who have given their lives," Braves president John Schuerholz said. "We do this all the time, and we're proud to be a part of this today.
"It's nice for our industry and our team, to pause and stand down, and show a moment of respect and pay tribute to what these people do, so that we can keep playing baseball games [and] fans can keep enjoying Memorial Day holidays. We just hope everybody focuses on what this holiday is and what the real message ought to be, which is thanks to everybody who has sacrificed."
Malarz was one such individual. After applying for Cadet Training while still in school in 1942, Malarz decided if he wasn't accepted to flight training, he'd become a Marine. Fortunately for Malarz, he wasn't denied and continued the military lineage throughout his family, as he had sons in both the Navy and Army.
Along with Malarz, Staff Sargeant Robert Vasquez, Army Specialist Darryl Wright and Sargeants James Yancey and John Sears were all individually honored before the game's first pitch.
"It's good to have these things to remind people that the world goes on because of the military," Malarz said. "You have to have it. There's no doubt about it, and I'm proud of this."
Schuerholz would agree, as he summed up the collective feelings of everyone in attendance with a message for the soldiers.
"Just simply thanks and we remember," he said. "We remember: The two most important words. We remember your service. We remember your sacrifice. We remember how our freedoms and our way of life were fought for by you. We remember."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. Chris Hempson is an associate reporter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.