6/14/2014 1:45 A.M. ET
Laird deems himself ready for action vs. Halos
By Jon Cooper / Special to MLB.com
ATLANTA -- You don't stick around as a Major League catcher for 12 years if you can't take the heat and the occasional hit and bounce back.
Braves catcher Gerald Laird took a couple of shots in the seventh inning on Thursday afternoon at Coors Field, but, said he's sufficiently ready to go in whatever capacity required in Friday's series opener with the Angels at Turner Field.
"I told [manager Fredi Gonzalez], I'm good to go. We'll see what happens," Laird said.
The 34-year-old catcher had to leave Thursday afternoon's 10-3 loss to the Rockies game after getting hit by the backswing of Colorado left fielder Corey Dickerson. The impact knocked off Laird's mask, and knocked him cold momentarily as the bat caught him in the jaw. He immediately left the game.
Laird called the incident an occupational hazard. He'd been nicked earlier in the at-bat by a foul tip.
"It's just one of those plays where I had to call a down-and-in slider to a lefty and I have to get down in there, and he took a swing and fouled it off, and kind of came back and hit me," Laird said. "I had a target on my head that one inning, but it's one of those things that when you become a catcher, it's the little things you sign up for. I'm glad I don't have to go on the DL and I'm good to go.
"There was just a little soreness in my joint but that's about it. I was a little bit dazed at first, but that was because of the two blows I took like three pitches before. About an hour after the game, I started feeling better, got on the plane and came back and I feel fine."
Gonzalez said team doctors will have the final say on Laird's availability on Friday, as they were to put him through another battery of tests. But the skipper shares Laird's feeling of relief that there would be no need for a stint on the seven-day concussion disabled list.
"I feel like we've dodged a bullet as far as concussion or anything like that," Gonzalez said. "He did well when I asked him on the field where he was. He said he knew where he was."
Adding insult to injury, Laird's season-high six-game hitting streak, during which he batted .391 (9-for-23), also came to an end on Thursday, as he went 0-for-2, with a walk.
J-Hey day to day with right hand contusion
ATLANTA -- Braves right fielder Jason Heyward made an early exit due to a right hand contusion sustained during Friday night's 4-3 win over the Angels.
Heyward was hit on the right hand with an 0-1 pitch from Angels starter C.J. Wilson in the first inning. Heyward stayed in the game and came around to score on Evan Gattis' three-run homer, then played defense in the top of the second before being lifted for pinch-hitter Jordan Schafer in the bottom of half of the inning.
Heyward knew he'd been hit squarely, but he still thought he would be able to stay in the game. Schafer also took Heyward's place in right field.
"When it happened, I didn't feel it a whole lot. It got worse quickly as time went," Heyward said. "I got ice on it right away and I kind of knew I had to be smart about it, and take better care of it. I went out and played 'D' then came out again.
"But when I went back to the outfield, it gradually felt worse so I knew I needed to get some more attention to it, and see if it was broken. It honestly felt worse than I thought it was going to, but X-rays are negative. So ice, rest, and we'll see how it feels."
Heyward, a 2012 National League Gold Glove Award winner, came into the game hitting .254, but he was batting .299 over his last 31 games, having reached base in 28 of those games.
After missing 58 games with several injuries in 2013, the negative X-rays were a big relief.
"Don't want to miss any games," Heyward said. "Broken bones obviously take longer than a lot of things. So it's good news and hopefully, I'll be back out there soon."
Wood fires shutout ball for Triple-A Gwinnett
ATLANTA - The first step for Alex Wood in the process of getting his arm stretched out is complete.
Wood threw 58 pitches -- 34 for strikes -- and allowed only two hits, while striking out five and walking two in 3 2/3 shutout innings on Friday night for the Triple-A Gwinnett Braves in their game against the Louisville Bats at Coolray Field.
Wood received a no-decision in Gwinnett's 5-1 win.
Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez had hoped for more innings, but he admitted he was fine simply waiting to see what happened.
"I haven't even talked to [pitching coach] Roger [McDowell] about what the parameters are," Gonzalez said prior to Friday night's game with the Angels. "I think he's 55-60 pitches. Hopefully that gets him into the fifth or sixth inning. Then go from there. Build from there."
The start is a promising first step for a pitcher who's showed plenty of promise on the Major League level.
The lefty began the season in Atlanta's rotation, but he was moved back to the bullpen in early May, when Mike Minor and Gavin Floyd, who was working his way back from 2013 Tommy John surgery, were activated two days apart (May 2 and 4).
Wood was 2-5 as a starter with a 3.00 ERA, holding opposing hitters to a .260 average. He allowed one earned run in four of his first five April starts and two in the other, and he pitched at least seven innings in four of those five appearances.
Since being moved to the bullpen, Wood made only 11 appearances, logging 15 1/3 innings with a 4.70 ERA.
The former University of Georgia star was optioned to Gwinnett on Tuesday to make room on the roster when reliever Jordan Walden was activated from the disabled list.
Gonzalez won't rush the 23-year-old Wood, the club's second-round pick in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft. Gonzalez estimated that he'd like to see Wood increase his pitch count by 10 to 15 per start, but he would not put a timetable on a return to Atlanta.
Coincidentally, Wood's mound opponent for the Bats was Jair Jurrjens, who pitched with the Braves from 2008 through 2012. Jurrjens went six innings on Friday and took the loss, allowing five runs (three earned) and nine hits.
Chipper on hand to accept TV Emmy award
ATLANTA -- Add Emmy winner to Chipper Jones' resume.
Jones, one of the most decorated players in Braves history, was at Turner Field on Friday to accept an Emmy Award he won for the FOX Sports South DRIVEN series.
"DRIVEN: The Chipper Jones Story" was recognized by National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS) Southeast Chapter for Television News and Program Specialty Excellence. Ironically, Jones won the award for DRIVEN over nominee Hendrick Motorsports.
As when he played, Jones, who always called himself one-ninth of the equation, gave credit to his co-stars.
"I thank FOX for everything they did," Jones said. "It was put together really well and anytime you get my friends and my family together, you're going to get some insight. Who better to talk about me than the people that know me best? Mom and dad, B.B. [agent Abbott], they were all great."
Jones said he wasn't expecting the award -- although he admitted hearing rumblings on Twitter -- but he added that he has the perfect place in his trophy case for the statue.
"I guess an Emmy is going to have to sit where my prospective Gold Glove was going to," Jones said.
Jones said that fans shouldn't be expecting any other forays into the entertainment field. So don't expect a Grammy or anything.
"If you ever heard me sing, I'm awful," he said. "Leave that to Luke [Bryan] and Jason [Aldean]."
Jon Cooper is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.