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News » Baseball 2009-04-29

Baseball 2009-04-29

Baseball 2009-04-29
Slumping Braves leadoff man Kelly Johnson knows what he's doing wrong --- jumping at pitches, letting his swing get too long --- but recognizing it and fixing it are two different things.

"I just need to tighten [my swing] up and stay positive," he said.

The streak-hitting second baseman was 4-for-39 (.103) with no extra-base hits in 11 games before Tuesday. "I was a lot more compact, my swing a lot shorter [in early April]."

He was out of the lineup Tuesday night against St. Louis, replaced by utility man Omar Infante.

The stagnant Braves hope Johnson can snap out of his funk soon. He's capable of torrid stretches that can stoke an offense --- particularly in the leadoff role.

"A lot of times, leadoff hitters can get the rest of the team going," said Braves hitting coach Terry Pendleton, who does not subscribe to the theory that a leadoff man isn't overly important.

"I joke with [Johnson] that you're only as good as your leadoff hitter," he said. "But it's true. People say, 'The leadoff hitter only leads off the game once.' Well, a lot of times that at-bat sets the tone. It's important for the guy up top to get things going."

During the Braves' 4-9 slide before Tuesday, they scored two runs or fewer eight times, including a 3-2 loss Monday to St. Louis.

"I think we'll get better as we go along, hopefully sooner than later," Pendleton said. "But we need Kelly Johnson to get going."

Johnson was the Braves' hottest hitter to start the season, going 10-for-30 with three home runs, seven RBIs and a .412 on-base percentage in his first eight games. The Braves were 5-3 in those games.

He was 0-for-11 in his next three games (all losses) to begin a slump that's gone unabated, with Johnson getting no more than one hit in a game for two weeks, dropping his average to .203 and OBP to .295.

He said Tuesday that batting leadoff has had nothing to do with his slump.

"My goal is to get to the point where I'm not [streaky]," he said.

Schafer ailing

Some fans have suggested that rookie center fielder Jordan Schafer, hitting .258 with a .378 OBP before Tuesday, should be moved to the leadoff spot. Schafer doesn't think he has earned consideration.

"I have to earn my stripes," said Schafer, who has hit seventh or eighth every game. "I have to prove I can be consistent. You can't strike out three times one game and get three hits the next game."

Schafer has been slowed by a sore left wrist since the home opener but has continued to play every game. He already has a pair of three-hit games and a pair of three-strikeout games in his first month. He was the team leader in strikeouts (22) and walks (12) before Tuesday.

Glavine update

Tom Glavine did light throwing in the outfield Tuesday for the third consecutive day without discomfort in his surgically repaired pitching shoulder. The 43-year-old left-hander plans long-tossing sessions from about 100 feet Thursday and Saturday, and if that goes well he'll test the shoulder with a side session on the bullpen mound Monday.

"Then we'll go from there," said Glavine, who is on the disabled list and hasn't pitched this season.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: April 29, 2009

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