03/05/12 6:15 PM EST
Jurrjens happy with results of first spring game
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
"You guys know, I [stink] in Spring Training anyway," Jurrjens said. "I get hit all of the time. I try a lot of stuff in Spring Training. The main thing is, I'm trying to get the feel back of pushing off and not feeling anything. I succeeded by pushing off with no pain. I wish I hadn't given up two runs, but this Spring Training, I'm just trying to work on my pitching and ... get comfortable with my mechanics again."
With Tim Hudson recovering from back surgery and Tommy Hanson behind schedule because of a concussion, Jurrjens appears to be the most likely option to serve as Atlanta's Opening Day starter. But as he allowed the Astros two runs in his 47-pitch, two-inning debut, it was apparent he, too, is still a work in progress as he attempts to avoid the right-knee discomfort that has sidelined him down the stretch during the past two seasons.
"I felt good," Jurrjens said. "It seemed like the fastball is coming back, slowly. I had no pain. I'm just trying new stuff on the mound. The main thing is no pain."
Jurrjens was a National League Cy Young Award candidate when he entered last year's All-Star break with an NL-leading 1.87 ERA. The 26-year-old hurler proved to be completely different when his right knee began bothering him after the break. He was diagnosed with a bone bruise, and by the end of August, he was removed from the starting rotation.
Now supported by a knee brace and orthotics in both of his shoes, Jurrjens is not burdened by the discomfort that bothered him whenever he attempted to push off the mound. His fastball touched 90 mph during Monday's outing -- and primarily rested between 87-88 mph.
"For me, that's awesome," Jurrjens said. "Last year, I don't think I threw 90 during the first couple games of Spring Training, or even in the season a lot. If I threw 90 today, it means I'm getting strong with the stuff we're doing between starts. I just need to keep working and get stronger."
Jurrjens worked a perfect first inning against the Astros and then allowed a pair of doubles, as he labored through a two-run second inning. This was his first time in a competitive atmosphere since pitching five innings in an instructional league game a day after last year's regular season concluded.
"That was good for him to come out, get the two innings of work and just get the rust off a little bit," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez happy to see bats wake up
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- After opening the Grapefruit League season with a couple of embarrassing losses, the Braves saw some of their big bats erupt in Monday's 10-5 win over the Astros at Osceola County Stadium.
Jason Heyward opened the scoring with a two-run, first-inning single off Jordan Lyles, and Dan Uggla produced the team's first home run with a third-inning solo homer off Xavier Cedeno. Serving as the designated hitter, Brian McCann also enjoyed a two-hit game.
"Overall, it was an exciting game," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "There was really a lot of exciting stuff to see."
Building off Sunday's two-hit performance -- making the most of his first start in a big league setting -- third baseman Joe Terdoslavich collected two doubles. Exciting, sure-handed shortstop Andrelton Simmons also displayed his offensive skills when he drilled an eighth-inning triple to left field.
Monday's 13-hit attack was a welcome sight for Gonzalez, who had seen his team limited to one hit in Saturday's opener and held to three runs in Sunday's 18-3 loss to the Tigers.
Murphy working with Braves' broadcast team
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Dale Murphy has returned to Spring Training this year to reminisce with old friends and interact with current Braves players, some of whom are too young to remember when he won back-to-back National League Most Valuable Player Awards in 1982 and '83.
Murphy will also spend portions of the next two weeks providing color commentary for at least five of the Braves' Spring Training games broadcast on radio. The experience could prove beneficial, as there is a chance he will also provide some color commentary for some regular-season television broadcasts.
"I'm gaining a greater appreciation for how the media does things," Murphy said with a laugh.
Murphy had plenty to talk about as he was behind the microphone for Monday's 10-5 win over the Astros. His first color commentary work was on Saturday, when the Braves did not record a hit until the eighth inning in a loss to the Tigers.
Freddie Freeman is expected to play against the Nationals on Tuesday, exactly one week after his right kneecap briefly popped out of place.
Right-handed reliever Cory Gearrin, who worked a perfect eighth inning on Monday, has been focusing on changing speeds with his fastball. The hope is that the sidearmer will develop a pitch that makes him more effective against left-handed batters.
Closer Craig Kimbrel, Jonny Venters and Eric O'Flaherty are all scheduled to make their spring debuts on Tuesday against the Nationals.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.