In a July 12 story about the Atlanta Braves James Neal Jersey , The Associated Press reported erroneously that Anibal Sanchez is among the team’s starting pitchers currently on the disabled list. Sanchez missed 37 games with a right hamstring strain earlier in the season and is currently active and was starting in Friday night’s game against Arizona.
A corrected version of the story is below:
Baby Braves looking to shake out of midseason swoon
Young Braves still tied for NL East lead despite `obviously struggling in a lot of different areas’
By CHARLES ODUM
AP Sports Writer
ATLANTA (AP) – As well as things have gone for the Atlanta Braves in the season’s first half, lately there are troubling signs that something is not right.
Or maybe a lot of things are not right.
The Braves have lost six of eight games and this week briefly fell out of the NL East lead for the first time since May 30. They moved back into a first-place tie with Philadelphia with Wednesday night’s win over Toronto. Atlanta was off Thursday before Friday night’s opener of a home series against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Braves are looking to regain their momentum entering next week’s All-Star break.
”We’ve just have to get back to getting the whole thing going,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said Wednesday. ”We’re obviously struggling in a lot of different areas.”
Snitker was far from panicked. He believes the downturn can be easily explained as a part of the normal flow of a season and said, ”I just think teams are going to do that.”
Even so, Snitker said he has examined all options, including tweaks to his lineup. General manager Alex Anthopoulos also has to look closely at the team’s recent downward trends as he considers possible trade options.
The Braves have interest in Baltimore’s Manny Machado but are seen as a long shot to acquire the All-Star shortstop. Anthopoulos has said the team is unlikely to give up top prospects for a short-term rental, and Machado is approaching free agency.
Anthopoulos may be more willing to trade a pitching prospect now that starters Sean Newcomb, Mike Foltynewicz and Mike Soroka have enjoyed success in Atlanta this season.
Trading a prospect for immediate help wouldn’t have been considered a likely move for Anthopoulos at the beginning of the year. The rebuilding Braves were expected to contend in a year or two. But now that the Braves have spent much of the season in first place, the timetable for aggressive moves may have changed.
Injuries have left the rotation full of questions. Soroka (right shoulder inflammation) and Brandon McCarthy (right knee tendinitis) are on the 10-day DL.
Left-hander Luiz Gohara, who had been in the bullpen, was optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett after Wednesday night’s game. He is expected to use his time in Gwinnett to prepare for a possible spot in Atlanta’s rotation after the break.
The team earned the nickname ”Baby Braves” thanks to key players including 21-year-old All-Star Ozzie Albies and 20-year-old left fielder Ronald Acuna Jr. When Soroka Adidas Mitchell Marner Jersey , another 20-year-old, was in the rotation, the Braves had the three youngest players in the majors. Gohara, 21, could add even more youth.
Two more important players are only 24 – Newcomb and shortstop Dansby Swanson. Foltynewicz is a first-time All-Star at 26.
With so much youth, growing pains were inevitable. Newcomb and Foltynewicz have each allowed five earned runs in two straight starts.
Hard-throwing left-handed reliever A.J. Minter has four saves but gave up four runs, three earned, while recording only one out in Tuesday night’s 6-2 loss to Toronto.
Meanwhile, leadoff hitter Ender Inciarte is hitting only .246, and Snitker pulled him from Sunday’s loss in Milwaukee for a lack of hustle. Inciarte was back in the lineup for the two-game series with Toronto.
Snitker wouldn’t blame the team’s recent offensive struggles on ”one or two guys.”
”We haven’t been hitting on all cylinders,” Snitker said.
Nick Markakis John Ross Jersey , selected to his first All-Star team at 34, Freddie Freeman and Albies have helped keep the team in first place.
Albies became only the sixth player in franchise history to hit homers from both sides of the plate in the same game on Wednesday night. He already has 20 homers, the most for a Braves player before the All-Star break since Andruw Jones hit 20 in 2006.
Albies has hits in 19 of his last 20 games, pushing his average to .288.
Freeman described Albies as ”unbelievable to watch.” Foltynewicz said, ”I’m excited he’s on my team.”
Snitker hopes Albies can be a model for teammates who are struggling after strong starts.
”He’s adjusted,” Snitker said. ”He’s doing what good players do.”
New Hornets coach James Borrego plans make Charlotte relevant again in the NBA’s Eastern Conference by developing the existing players on the roster.
He may not have any other choice.
Hornets general manager Mitch Kupchak said Friday ”there is no master plan to blow up this team right now” when asked about the chances of dramatically overhauling the roster after back-to-back 36-win seasons. He said Borrego was hired with the understanding that ”he was going to coach the guys that are on this team right now.”
Borrego, who was hired Thursday night as the first Hispanic-American head coach in the NBA history, appeared to be up to the challenge when he was introduced at a news conference on Friday.
”My mentality is this is our group and we are moving forward with it,” said Borrego, who becomes the 11th head coach in franchise history . ”I’m excited about that current group as it stands right now. I think our biggest room for growth is the internal development piece.”
That’s a good thing since Kupchak said the Hornets don’t have a lot of salary cap flexibility at this time, something which could what the team can do this offseason in terms of free agency and trades. The GM noted that ”right now the likelihood is we are going to go forward with this team.”
Borrego said it is up to him to develop younger players Malik Monk and Dwayne Bacon Youth Da'Shawn Hand Jersey , who saw limited playing last season as rookies under former coach Steve Clifford. He also pointed toward getting more out of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, a former No. 2 overall pick who is still just 24, and Frank Kaminsky, also a first-round draft pick.
”There is a group of young guys that after this summer should take a major leap,” Borrego said. ”If they take a major leap our roster changes significantly.”
While he was quick to acknowledge turning the Hornets into a winner will be a challenge and that he doesn’t bring ”a pocket full of fairy dust” with him from San Antonio, Borrego does feel the Hornets have quality pieces in place, including two-time All-Star Kemba Walker, Nicolas Batum and Dwight Howard.
Borrego said he is a ”big fan” of Walker and his goal is to open up the floor for him on offense to make more plays.
”It’s my job to put him in position to succeed,” Borrego said. ”For me that means giving him space and a floor that is open to create, so he should be excited about that. I’m in his corner. I back him. I’m with him.”
He likes Batum too, calling him an unselfish player that is hard to find. He also praised Howard for a terrific first season in Charlotte.
The 40-year-old Borrego Shaq Thompson Jersey , who is from Albuquerque, New Mexico, knows what it’s like to win.
He spent 15 seasons as an assistant coach in the NBA, including 10 with the Spurs working under Gregg Popovich where he won two NBA championship rings and went to four Western Conference finals.
He has been a part of staffs that have led teams to the playoffs 11 different times during that span with stints in San Antonio, New Orleans and Orlando.
Borrego said he plans to play an up-tempo style on offense, while placing an added emphasis on defending the 3-point line on defense.
”There are pieces in place here to play that style,” Borrego said.