published Friday, March 25th, 2011

Jurrjens pulled with cramp, says he’s OK

DUNEDIN, Fla.—Atlanta pitcher Jair Jurrjens said the feeling along his right ribcage Thursday was nothing more than a cramp caused by dehydration. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, taking no chances, pulled his starter after one inning against Toronto.

Jurrjens said he felt he was “losing a lot of fluid. It’s really hot and I was sweating a lot and I had long sleeves, which didn’t help.”

Eight pitches into the Braves’ 5-3 victory over Toronto he felt the discomfort. He threw four more, striking out Jose Bautista to end the first inning.

Jurrjens tried to stretch the cramp away while the Braves batted, but Gonzalez, after conferring with his trainer, took him out as a precaution.

“It’s too late in the spring to mess with it. He said he felt something and that was it. Get him out of there,” he said.

“Right now we’re just taking it as a slight something,” Gonzalez said. “Still too early to tell. Sometimes those things manifest themselves a little bit later, maybe nothing happens. ... We’ll see what the doctor comes up with. If there’s nothing, maybe he could throw a side on [Saturday], his normal day.”

Jurrjens said he was feeling as good as he has all spring before the cramping.

“I think I’m ready to go,” he said.

But Gonzalez said he might have to alter his plans for the starting rotation, adding that with Brandon Beachy, Mike Minor and Rodrigo Lopez, there’s no shortage of arms.

Blue Jays starter Brett Cecil was in total command going into the sixth inning. He had allowed just two hits and struck out five and had a two-run lead, one of them coming on Bautista’s fourth-inning homer off Scott Proctor.

A single, an error and RBI singles by Brandon Hicks and Jason Heyward tied the score. Dan Uggla chased Cecil, hitting a high fastball for a three-run homer to left.

Beachy fifth starter

In Kissimmee, general manager Frank Wren announced that Beachy had won the job as the Braves’ fifth starter over fellow rookie Minor and veteran Lopez.

Minor was optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett along with two other roster contenders, outfielder Jordan Schafer and infielder Diory Hernandez.

The 24-year-old Beachy will join a rotation that already included Derek Lowe, Tim Hudson, Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrjens. All are right-handers.

Beachy has a 1.80 ERA in three spring-training games with 10 strikeouts and three walks in 10 innings. He really impressed the Braves with his poise when called up during a playoff race late last year. He went 0-2 in three starts, but allowed only five earned runs in 15 innings.

In the minors, Beachy was combined 5-1 with a 1.73 ERA splitting time between Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett.

“We made the decision that Beachy was ahead of Mike at this time in the fifth-starting-pitcher competition,” Wren said.

The left-handed Minor went into spring training considered the favorite to win the job. The seventh overall pick in the 2009 draft pitched well, posting a 0.90 ERA with seven strikeouts and four walks in 10 innings.

Last season, Minor pitched in nine games for the Braves, going 3-2 with a 5.98 ERA. He got off to a strong start but struggled with his command and focus.

Lopez was insurance in case the youngsters faltered. Neither did.

With Hernandez heading to the minors, nonroster invitee Ed Lucas likely has earned a spot on the team as a backup shortstop. Schafer came into camp hoping to reclaim the starting job he had at the beginning of the 2009 season but never made a serious run at beating out Nate McLouth in center field.

The Braves also optioned right-handed pitchers Juan Abreu and Jairo Asencio to Gwinnett. In addition, the team announced that left-hander Lee Hyde was claimed off waivers by the Washington Nationals and left-hander Jose Ortegano was claimed off waivers by the New York Yankees, leaving 33 players in the major league camp.

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