Rookie Minor continues to disprove critics
Lefty recalls teacher who didn't believe he could play pro ball
ATLANTA -- When critics questioned the Braves' decision to take Mike Minor with the seventh overall selection in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, they were unaware of the fact that they were simply giving the left-handed pitcher yet another opportunity to prove his doubters wrong.
While making it to the Majors a little more than a year after completing his successful career at Vanderbilt University, Minor kept a memory of what had happened to him during his freshman year at Forrest School in Chapel Hill, Tenn. Recognizing the young kid's athletic ability, a high school teacher attempted to persuade him to play football.
"He told me that I should play as many sports as possible while I still had the chance," said Minor, who was committed to playing baseball and basketball. When I told him that I planned to continue playing baseball beyond high school, he just laughed at me."
When Minor makes his second career start for the Braves in Tuesday night's series opener against the Nationals, he'll once again have a chance to laugh at those who doubted his ability and motivated him during his rapid rise to the Majors. This will be the 22-year-old southpaw's first home start.
During his debut in Houston last week, Minor worked six innings and allowed four runs (three earned). Three of the runs were scored during the fourth inning, which he concluded with two consecutive strikeouts.
"I wasn't as nervous as I thought I might be," Minor said. "The hardest part was before the game. It felt like it took forever for the game to start. I probably shouldn't have gotten to the park so early."
Prado likely to be activated Tuesday
ATLANTA -- Martin Prado went 1-for-4 while playing both second base and third base during a Minor League rehab game with Triple-A Gwinnett on Monday night.
Prado, who singled in the first inning and then grounded out three times, will likely be activated for Tuesday night's series opener against the Nationals. The All-Star second baseman has been sidelined since fracturing his finger while completing a head-first slide on July 30.
Prado initially had some concerns about being able to accurately make the long throws from the third-base position. But as this weekend progressed, he seemed more comfortable about the possibility that manager Bobby Cox may ask him to move to third.
Omar Infante, who has played second base in Prado's absence, and Brooks Conrad are the other top candidates to play third base in the absence of Chipper Jones, who suffered a season-ending knee injury last week.
Freeman unlikely to get call this month
ATLANTA -- Now that Troy Glaus has shown some signs of life and Chipper Jones has been lost for the season with a left knee injury, there is seemingly less reason to believe the Braves will promote highly touted first-base prospect Freddie Freeman before September.
During the early days of this month, there was growing reason to wonder if Atlanta might release Glaus and gamble with the choice to put the 20-year-old Freeman at first base for the remainder of the season.
But since going homerless over a 39-game stretch, Glaus has homered twice in a span of five games. While he might not be able to regain the form that helped him hit .316 with 12 homers during a 47-game stretch that began on May 1, the 33-year-old veteran has at least provided indication that he provide some of the presence the lineup lost when Jones was injured last week.
While hitting .316 with 16 homers and an .887 OPS with Triple-A Gwinnett this year, Freeman has strengthened the belief that he will begin the 2011 season as Atlanta's starting first baseman.
But with Glaus starting to rebound, the Braves have much less reason to think about taking the risk of simultaneously depending on Freeman and 21-year-old Jason Heyward in the midst of a pennant race.
Niekro promotes brother's foundation
ATLANTA -- Hall of Fame pitcher Phil Niekro was at Turner Field on Monday night to honor the memory of his brother and promote the Joe Niekro Foundation, which is committed to aiding in the research and treatment of aneurysm patients and families.
Joe Niekro spent two of his 22 Major League seasons with the Braves. The accomplished right-hander, who threw a knuckleball like his brother, died suddenly from a brain aneurysm on Oct. 27, 2006.
Fans wanting to know more about this fight against brain aneurysms can visit joeniekrofoundation.com. Those willing to make a $10 donation directly from their cell phone can text the word KNUCKLEBALL to 20222.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.