April 10, 2012 at 11:05 am by David Lee under Atlanta Braves
Still Searching for No. 1
* The Braves fell to the Astros 8-3 on Monday, dropping their fourth straight to open the season. They’ll continue to search for their first win as they play the second game of the series against the Astros at 8:05 on Fox Sports South. Tommy Hanson faces Kyle Weiland.
Braves lineup: Michael Bourn (CF), Martin Prado (LF), Freddie Freeman (1B), Brian McCann (C), Dan Uggla (2B), Chipper Jones (3B), Jason Heyward (RF), Tyler Pastornicky (SS), Tommy Hanson (P).
Astros lineup: Jordan Schafer (CF), Jose Altuve (2B), J.D. Martinez (LF), Carlos Lee (1B), Brian Bogusevic (RF), Chris Johnson (3B), Chris Snyder (C), Marwin Gonzalez (SS), Kyle Weiland (P).
Chipper hit sixth six times last season, so this isn’t new territory for him. It likely has more to do with wanting Freeman higher in the order and splitting up three straight left-handed batters than not pushing Chipper too hard with a higher spot in the order, which some may believe.
Heyward returns to the lineup after sitting last night in favor of Matt Diaz. Heyward came off the bench late and struck out.
Weiland was part of the package Houston acquired this winter along with Jed Lowrie for Mark Melancon, who was sent to Boston. Weiland hasn’t had much success in 24.2 big league innings, but he’s 25 this year and the Astros figure his stuff will play in the NL Central.
Hanson’s 79 opponent plate appearances at Minute Maid Park is the fifth-most of any park in his career. It’s a small sample size, but he has allowed just one extra base hit over that total.
* Chipper Jones is expected to return and be in the lineup tonight, only 15 days after undergoing surgery on his knee. A rehab assignment was considered, but Chipper made the decision it was best to return now, ahead of the scheduled date of April 13.
Update (3:00p): Chipper has indeed been activated from the disabled list and Jose Constanza was optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett. Chipper is expected to start at third in tonight’s game at Houston.
* David O’Brien’s latest blog post speaks on the Braves’ early struggles, Juan Francisco’s defense and the 1988 team that we would all like to forget.
Around the NL East
* The issues surrounding Ozzie Guillen over his comments on Fidel Castro have resulted in a five-game suspension for the manager.
* Giancarlo Stanton was a late scratch with a sore left knee yesterday, continuing his problems with the knee that stayed with him for much of spring training.
* Drew Storen was sent to Dr. James Andrews for further evaluation on his throwing elbow, a bad sign for the closer. Storen continues to have issues with a tender elbow after experiencing soreness during spring training.