06/25/10 8:28 PM ET
Shortstop Escobar on the block?
By Mark Bowman and Chris Hempson / MLB.com
There's no doubt that Escobar's flamboyant approach to the game has continued to infuriate some members of the Braves organization. But it still appears the talented 26-year-old shortstop will remain in Atlanta unless another club offers an extremely attractive package.
In other words, the Braves aren't entering July with a feeling that they have to trade Escobar. In fact, many members of upper management still regard him as one of the game's top shortstops, despite the fact that his offensive production has declined this year.
While Escobar has maddened some of the Braves with the flashy way he turns double plays or dramatically reacts to an umpire's call, he still has proven capable of preventing runs on a nightly basis with his tremendous defensive skills.
Escobar entered Friday night's series opener against the Tigers hitting .250 with no homers and a .651 OPS, which ranked as the ninth-worst mark among all qualified National League players. Entering this season, Escobar's career numbers included a .301 batting average and .801 OPS.
Braves hitting coach Terry Pendleton said he isn't overly concerned about the fact that Escobar's extra-base hits have consisted of 10 doubles this year. Pendleton believes the Cuban shortstop is still attempting to gain a feel for the mechanical adjustments he had to make after hitting just .175 through the first 32 games he played this season.
Jurrjens to throw BP session Sunday
ATLANTA -- Jair Jurrjens will throw a bullpen session on Sunday, and if all goes according to plan, the 24-year-old will rejoin the Braves rotation in time to start Wednesday night's game against the Nationals.
Braves manager Bobby Cox declined to reveal who will be removed from his starting rotation when Jurrjens returns. Kenshin Kawakami appears to be the likely choice. But the club could also opt to send Kris Medlen back to the bullpen.
Medlen, who started Friday night against Detroit, would have been scheduled to start Wednesday's game against the Nationals. But the club may simply be aiming to give him a chance to rest.
Jurrjens, who has been sidelined since April 29 with a strained left hamstring, made his final scheduled Minor League rehab start for Triple-A Gwinnett on Thursday night. He held Buffalo hitless through the first three innings and then allowed a pair of runs in both the fourth and fifth innings.
Still Jurrjens came away from the outing encouraged about the fact that his hamstring felt stronger than it had in his previous two rehab starts."[Thursday's rehab start] was an improvement from the first two for sure," Jurrjens said. "I feel ready to help this team out, and I'm just going to wait for the decision and hope I can be up here soon."
Jurrjens was limited to 81 pitches, but overall, was extremely pleased with how his rehab starts have gone -- especially his most recent.
McLouth headache-free for 48 hours
ATLANTA -- When Nate McLouth awoke Wednesday, it marked the first time since colliding with Jason Heyward on June 8 that he wasn't bothered by a painful headache. Now, the Braves center fielder is hoping to continue realizing the improvement that will help him move beyond his concussion-like symptoms.
Having been headache-free for 48 hours, McLouth arrived at Turner Field prepared to meet with doctors on Friday night. While it might be a while before he is cleared to play, the 28-year-old outfielder was still hoping to get some kind of timetable for a potential return.
While McLouth battled a headache for nearly two weeks after the collision caused him to slam his head onto Arizona's outfield grass, he said that his vision has essentially remained normal while he has dealt with this head injury.
Alumni return for special weekend
ATLANTA -- Tigers manager Jim Leyland would have to be forgiven if he did a double-take in horror during Friday night's pregame festivities at Turner Field.
With the Braves hosting their Inaugural Alumni Weekend, more than 20 former Braves stars were in attendance, and for Leyland, perhaps one individual whose memory might haunt Leyland to this day: Sid Bream.
Leyland was the manager of the Pirates during that unforgettable 1992 National League Championship Series, when Bream lumbered home from second base on a Francisco Cabrera single, giving the Braves a second straight trip to the World Series.
During a pregame Q&A session in the Fan Plaza of Turner Field, notable documentary director Ken Burns made note of that very play when speaking with Bream, outfielder Otis Nixon and catcher Javy Lopez. Bream was quick to offer a response.
"If you go and watch that play again, you'll see that after I rounded third, I looked back at [Pirates left fielder] Barry [Bonds]. I slowed down a gear to make it closer at the plate," Bream jokingly said, to the amusement of many of the fans in attendance.
"I might have taken him in a wheelchair," Nixon added while laughing.
The jokes and memories will continue throughout the weekend, as the Braves host this four-day event which benefits the Atlanta Braves Foundation. For many of the former players, it's only fitting that this occasion begins during Bobby Cox's final season as the team's manager.
"It's a special time, not only to be back for Bobby and celebrate what he's accomplished, but it's also a lot of fun to see a lot of players that I've played with and tell stories about what happened back then, too," Bream said.
They might have new tales about what happens on Saturday, too, as the Braves will host a Celebrity Softball Game, focusing on the alums in attendance, ranging from Dale Murphy to Steve Avery to Marquis Grissom.
"I might have to point a little bit [calling home run shots]," Bream said. "I feel as though there's probably going to be a couple that go over the fence. I don't know whether that's the backstop fence or whether it's the one out there [in deep center field.]"
Four former players got a start on the competitions with a closest-to-the-pin golf contest prior to the Braves-Tigers game. The participants were Jay Howell, Lopez, Bream and Avery, with Howell coming out victorious. Afterward, Braves president John Schuerholz individually introduced the alums and delivered a simple message to sum up the weekend.
"We welcome you home. Welcome home," Schuerholz said.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. Chris Hempson is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.