6/12/2014 9:00 P.M. ET
Carpenter confident in face of extended rough patch
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
DENVER -- As Braves right-handed reliever David Carpenter has struggled over the past few weeks, it has been difficult for him to continue saying he has simply been a victim of "dumb luck." But there are some statistics that indicate he hasn't pitched much different than he did when he posted a 1.78 ERA in 56 appearances last year.
"I'm still continuing to trust that the stuff is still good enough to get people out," Carpenter said. "If you go through a stretch like this, it really starts to wear on you mentally. But I'm just trying to maintain that confidence. It's nice to hear [Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell] say, 'I've still got all the confidence in the world in you.'"
While allowing 20 hits and nine earned runs in 9 1/3 innings dating back to May 14, Carpenter has seen his ERA go from 1.69 to 4.26 and his opponents' batting average rise from .246 to .324. Though he has issued just three walks during this span, his strikeout ratio (one per every 5.6 plate appearances) has not been as good as the 3.28 ratio he produced in the 18 appearances that preceded this frustrating stretch.
Carpenter's inability to miss bats as frequently has led to his belief that he has been victimized by some tough luck, a theory supported by the Fielding Independent Pitching stat, which measures what a pitcher's ERA should be over a given period assuming that the balls in play and timing were league average.
The 2.69 FIP Carpenter has produced in 30 appearances this year is actually better than the 2.83 mark he had during last year's breakout season.
"I'm just trying to get back to having fastball command and the execution of my offspeed pitches," he said. "I need to remember I'm not trying to throw the ball by everybody or a slider as hard as I can. I just need to execute and spot it where they're going to have trouble squaring it up or possibly get a swing and a miss."
Laird passes concussion tests after backswing
DENVER -- Braves trainer Jeff Porter returned to the Braves' dugout after he determined Gerald Laird had not been hurt when he was hit by Corey Dickerson's foul tip in the seventh inning of Thursday afternoon's 10-3 loss at Coors Field.
Two pitches later, Porter rushed back on the field to tend to Laird, who fell face down in the dirt after Dickerson's backswing knocked his mask off and struck the right side of his face. After remaining on the ground for nearly two minutes, the Braves catcher made his way toward the clubhouse under his own power.
"It didn't knock me out," Laird said. "When I went down, I kind of opened my eyes, and the first time I opened them, I was kind of seeing stars and real fogginess. I told Porter, 'Let me stay down for a little bit.' Then I started blinking and feeling a little better."
Laird passed all preliminary concussion tests and was cleared to travel back to Atlanta with the team on Thursday night.
"I feel all right, just a little dazed after that second one I took," Laird said. "The first one got me all right. Then, the barrel kind of knocked my mask off and got me right in the side of the jaw. I just got a little dazed when I went down and I was seeing stars. So I wanted to make sure I gathered myself."
After Laird exited, David Carpenter hit Dickerson on the right hip with the next pitch. Carpenter was immediately ejected for what plate umpire Jordan Baker perceived as a retaliatory strike. Rockies manager Walt Weiss was also ejected after coming onto the field and expressing his anger over Carpenter's pitch.
Laird said he knew Dickerson did not have any intent with his backswing.
"I'm sure none of that stuff is intentional," Laird said. "It's one of those things where you foul a pitch off and it just caught me in the right spot. I have no hard feelings toward him."
Braves on verge of signing first-rounder Davidson
DENVER -- Braves first-round Draft selection Braxton Davidson will graduate from high school this weekend and then make the three-hour drive to Turner Field to sign his first professional contract.
Davidson is scheduled to be on the field to meet Braves players and coaches before Sunday night's game against the Angels. The power-hitting outfielder, who will turn 18 years old on Wednesday, is expected to sign for something in the neighborhood of the $1.705 million figure slotted for the 32nd overall selection in the First-Year Player Draft.
The Braves have already reached agreements with each of the three players -- right-handed pitchers Garrett Fulenchek, Max Povse and Chad Sobotka -- they selected immediately after Davidson. Fulenchek agreed to a $1 million signing bonus, slightly above his slotted $860,000 slotted figure, and Povse signed for $425,000, below his slotted $514,200 figure.
Sobotka's $400,000 signing bonus was also above the $381,300 figure he was slotted. Still, the Braves view this as a potential bargain. The big right-hander out of South Carolina-Upstate would have likely been a first- or second-round selection had he not missed this season with a small bone fracture in his back.
The Braves are nearing an agreement with fifth-round selection Chris Diaz, a left-hander from the University of Miami. They also remain in negotiations with seventh-round selection Luke Dykstra, who is the son of former Major Leaguer Lenny Dykstra. A source with knowledge of Dykstra's thoughts said the 18-year-old second baseman will sign at his $163,900 slotted figure.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.