Notes: Andruw seeing the ball better
Stance aside, Jones works on tracking different pitches
ATLANTA -- Although it was seemingly clear that Andruw Jones made some adjustments during Tuesday night's two-hit performance against the Mets, the Braves' Gold Glove outfielder wasn't ready to admit this when he returned to Turner Field on Wednesday afternoon.
"I just saw the ball good and made good solid contact," said Jones, whose career-high five-strikeout performance at Fenway Park on Sunday had dropped his batting average to .212.
During Monday's off-day, Jones says he didn't focus on altering the wide stance that had seemingly caused him to take a multitude of off-balance swings during the first seven weeks of the season. Instead, he simply looked at a variety of different pitches served up by the pitching machine that he has in his suburban Atlanta home.
"I'm just working on seeing the ball," Jones said. "That's the main thing. When you can't see the ball, you can't hit the ball when you're off balance or when you have good balance. If you don't see the ball, you don't hit it."
Even while recording five two-hit performances in the final nine games of April, Jones' back knee often collapsed at the end of his swings. But while delivering his second-inning RBI single on Tuesday night, he showed great balance and the type of disciplined swing that could allow him to quickly get his batting average back to a respectable level.
"He didn't change his stance," Braves hitting coach Terry Pendleton said. "His body was quieter."
By quieting his swing and reducing the frequency with which he attempts to yank balls over the left-field fence, Jones should be able to keep his head quieter and achieve his goal of visually tracking pitches more effectively.
"It's not mechanics or anything," Jones said. "It's just staying on the ball and having good balance."
Gonzo's third MRI: Braves left-handed reliever Mike Gonzalez left Turner Field early Wednesday evening to prepare for dinner with his parents, who had driven from Texas to celebrate his 29th birthday.
But first, the birthday boy had to stop at a local hospital to have a third MRI exam taken of his left elbow.
A contrast MRI taken of Gonzalez's left elbow last Thursday showed no signs of structural damage. But Braves physicians have since determined that the image that they were presented didn't provide sufficient information.
"They just want to make sure," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "What they wanted to see, they couldn't."
Because Gonzalez didn't experience any discomfort while playing catch on Tuesday, the Braves are hopeful that this latest MRI will provide the same positive results as the ones taken on April 19 and last week. Their intention is to still put Gonzalez back into the bullpen when he's eligible to come off the disabled list on Saturday.
Carlyle tabbed for Saturday: Before Wednesday night's game, Cox said that Buddy Carlyle will be promoted from Triple-A Richmond in time to make Saturday's start against the Phillies. Carlyle will be assuming the rotation spot that was vacated this week when Anthony Lerew went to the disabled list and Mark Redman was released.
Carlyle, who made each of his seven career Major League starts for the Padres in 1999,impressed Cox while posting a 1.69 ERA in Spring Training. In nine starts with Richmond, the 29 year-old right-hander has gone 5-2 with a 2.59 ERA. Opponents are hitting .225 against him.
"He's pitched really well," Cox said. "He pitched really well in the spring."
Resting the boys: Wednesday marked the first of four times in a five-game span that the Braves will face a left-handed starting pitcher. But the fact that Kelly Johnson, Brian McCann and Scott Thorman weren't in the lineup against Mets southpaw Oliver Perez wasn't an indication of things to come.
"I've got all the confidence in Mac and Johnson and Thorman [against lefties]," Cox said. "It doesn't really stop them at all."
Johnson has actually hit .328 against left-handers and .250 against right-handers this season. But he's hitting just .228 in May, and for the second time in three games, he found the right-handed hitting Martin Prado serving as the starting second baseman.
Chris Woodward made his first start of the season at first base in place of Thorman, and McCann got a rest while Jarrod Saltalamacchia assumed Wednesday night's catching duties.
Coming up: The Braves will conclude their three-game series against the Mets on Thursday night at 7:37 p.m. ET. While aiming for his 200th career victory, John Smoltz (6-2, 2.85 ERA) will be facing his good friend, Tom Glavine (5-1, 3.43), for the third time this season. Dating back to 2005, the Braves have won each of the three previous games that have pitted these two accomplished hurlers against each other.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.