Atlanta Braves Blog

The Atlanta Braves blog by David O'Brien, baseball writer for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Braves reactions to Santana signing, Medlen injury


On how he spent past few days: “I guess mentally preparing myself. Something that I’ve felt before. I think I had all the answers to anybody’s questions in my head when I was walking off the mound. I never do that. When I did it before in 2010, the same thing kind of happened. Nothing’s … (long pause, choked up) Nothing’s official, but I think I know and just go from there.”

“There’s been a bunch of really nice comments from people on Twitter. It’s been awesome. I think this second time around, being a dad and having a wife there, it’s going to help me out a little bit more than the first time. And getting involved in Rally (Foundation for childhood cancer research) puts things in perspective; this isn’t that big of a deal compared to what other people are going through. So it’s something I need to take care of and move on from.”

On staying in game for two more pitches after injury: “It was hope, frustration, anger. I don’t think I did anything more to the ligament on those two extra pitches I threw after I felt it. It probably wasn’t smart, but having already done it before…. I think it was the curveball to Granderson. I felt that knife in the elbow feeling. And it was more just kind of denial, and I walked all the way to second base just kind of thinking, like, you know, ‘You have to be freakin’ kidding me.’

“I threw a first-pitch fastball and I guess it was more an 8-9-10 on the pain scale feeling. In 2010 when I did it, it was an 8. So I already felt like the damage had been done and I was just kind of denying it to myself. I just wanted to get through it, to talk myself out of that feeling. So it was more of a denial/frustration/anger thing. I was already losing it on the way to the dugout. I couldn’t breathe. Just all that stuff … going through it one time, I told myself if I ever had to do it again I would quit. Stupid comments like that. I’m not going to quit, obviously. But the first time I did it in 2010, I was telling myself there was no way I could will myself to do all this crap again.

“It ended up working the first time, for a limited time obviously. I think there’s more of a shelf life expected for new ligaments nowadays. I’ve already talked to our video guy and I’m going to get with Roger (McDowell) and whoever else, and I’m going to try and focus on not just trying to take care of it again, but trying to prevent it from happening again, whether I’m doing something mechanically or there’s a weakness somewhere and my elbow is compensating for it. It’s just something that I need to do physically and mentally. I just need to take care of it.

“I know all the surgeons are down in New Orleans for some academy or whatever they call it. But within the week I’m hoping to get just a few more answers. Like I said, I think I know, and I think I know what I felt. It’s difficult, but it’s not going to hurt to go get multiple questions answered by multiple different sources. The second time around is just going to be a lot different when it comes to handling that and just asking more questions and being a little bit more involved instead of just being the scared kid who doesn’t know what to do.”

“I’ve seen our team doctors. Dr. (Marvin) Royster was there for the stress test, where they take an X-ray of it normal, then they stress it – which hurts, by the way – and then they take an X-ray to measure how far your bone opens up, and mine was opening up quite a bit, I think to about 6 millimeters, and 2 is kind of pushing it. So I think that shows obviously a weakness in the ligament. But Dr. Andrews has done this a few times now, and I think he’s going to be able to kind of pinpoint the exact terminology and exactly what’s going on.”

“My teammates have been extremely supportive. There were no signs of it (coming), which makes it a lot more difficult. I’ve watched the replays, because I have nothing else to do. Simmons kind of stood up (after the pitch), like ‘Oh, shit.’ Like I’ve said, they’ve been extremely supportive. And that’s what guys need. I’ve tried to be there for Beachy and Jonny and whoever else has gone through this, and that’s what people are doing for me right now, and it’s pretty awesome to be around. It definitely makes you feel better. But the reality has set in the past couple of days, and it’s more like, all right, let’s go, let’s get this taken care of. It’s not like a woe is me, or why me? I don’t even think like that. I wouldn’t be at this level if I ever thought that way.

“I feel like I carry the flag for the underdogs and the people who believe in themselves when no one else does. I’ve had a good support system coming up, and those are the people that I play for. I just want to do it for them.”

**FRANK WREN (seated next to Medlen when pitcher met with reporters)

“From his perspective, he probably knew when he walked off the mound, based on how he felt. That he felt the worst. And over the last couple of days he’s had additional tests. Yesterday he had a stress X-ray, and that stress X-ray, it’s not definitive, but it did probably confirm what he was fearing. That there’s a high likelihood that he’s going to have to have a second Tommy John. And so that put him in a position where he wanted to come to you guys and be open and honest with where we are. It’s nothing official. It’s not definite yet. But I think over the next few days when he sees the doctor, that’s what we’re anticipating.”

**FRANK WREN at informal news conference to announce Santana signing

“I think in light of what’s happened over the past few days with our pitching staff, we thought it was incumbent on us to do everything we could to strengthen our starting pitching. Throughout the winter, we didn’t feel like we were going to be in this (starting pitcher) market, but we felt like Ervin was the No. 1 guy in the market. We always felt that he was the guy that, if we were going to go out there (and sign a frontline pitcher), he was the guy that we would love to have.

“And it just worked out that he had not reached an agreement yet, and so once we had the injuries, we reached out to his agent a couple of days ago and then started talking yesterday, and were able to reach agreement last night. We’re thrilled to have him, and we feel like he really gives us a big shot in the arm as far as the rotation’s concerned.”

“Literally the afternoon that Kris Medlen got hurt, I reached out to Jay Alou by text. And then we started talking (Tuesday) and trying to see if there was a match. When I reached out originally it was because I knew from media reports that he was down the road with some other clubs who had a big head start on us (in negotiations). So we tried to see if there was still a chance for us to get in the mix.”

“I think once we started talking, we realized that Ervin was very interested in us as well, that he thought this was a good opportunity for him, and it was a perfect for us for. We’re fortunate that it all fit at the right time. Another day later, we might not have been able to make it happen.”\

“We don’t have any finality on Brandon, or Kris. We don’t know what’s going to happen with either guy, and we’re still hoping for the best. But just knowing where we were depth-wise, we felt it was really important.

“This is an incredible, I think, decision by the organization, because this is going to push us well above what we thought our budget would be this year. But Mr. McGuirk and John jumped in to say this is important for our team, and made a big commitment. And that shouldn’t go un noted.”

Did you guys feel that there much work putting it together to let couple of injuries ruin team's chances?

“I think that’s exactly it. We feel like we have a real good team, and we feel like it’s really important for us as an organization to do everything we can possibly do to continue having a competitive ballclub. I think this move keeps us in that position.”

Santana ready first week? “I don’t think so. We’re not going to push it that fast. We want to take it slow – not extraordinarily slow, but we want to take the right amount of caution to get him ready the right way. We want him for the long haul. So I think we’ll react based on how his bullpens go – he’s going to do a bullpen and a live BP, at least. If that all goes well, then we would put him in just like the first (start) of spring training, in a two-inning game setting. That could happen as soon as a week, but if it needs to be a little longer to make sure he’s healthy and fine, then we’ll do that as well. But we’re going to play that one by ear based on how he feels and how everything goes.”

Tough losing the draft pick, and did getting one for McCann help?

“No doubt. For a development organization like us, draft picks are really valuable. So that was a big part of this. But I think we have to keep it focused on the big picture, and the big picture is to win at the major league level. That’s what we’re commited to. I picked up the phone this morning after we got the deal done to call (scouting director) Tony DeMacio and let him know it cost a draft pick, and like all of our guys in the organization he said, ‘You know what? We’ve got to do what’s best for our team.’ That’s the way we look at it. Would we love to have that pick? Absolutely. But we’ve got to do what’s best for our team, and to get a pitcher of the quality of Ervin Santana, you do that.”

Team still have any payroll flexibility to add piece if needed during season?

“When we’re in the hunt, we’ve always found a way.”



“I’m very excited to be in this organization. Young talent. It’s going to be a fun season for us.”

On coming to new league: “That was one of the things. To every pitcher, being in a different league…. And I like to hit.”

“I don’t know the National League, but I will adjust and do my job like I always do and go out every five days and do my work. It’s going to be fun.”

“Been working out every single day, throwing bullpens, and I’m basically almost ready to go. I just need to throw against hitters and in games.”

On having good year in Kansas City last season after bad year with Angels in 2012: “Good transition for me, because I was new in Kansas City. I just put everything together and pitched great. In 2012 I don’t know, I wasn’t feeling that comfortable with the Angels. I just had fun in Kansas City.”


**JORDAN WALDEN on signing his former Angels teammate Santana

“He’s a great pitcher. He’s got good stuff. I was very happy to see that.”

“Awesome guy. I knew he was going to fit in right away over here. He’s going to go out, pitch a lot of innings. He’s a good pitcher.”

“He’s just a nice guy. He’s going to make friends with everybody. No problems with him. He’s great, he’s going to love it here.”

“He just needed a new start. He got out of Anaheim last year and he liked it where he was (in Kansas City), and he’s going to love it here. I think he’ll be like he was last year, if not better.”

Good fastball, slider, and “great changeup. I played catch with him today and it was coming out good.”

**GERALD LAIRD faced Santana in AL

“Nice pickup. It’s unfortunate the guys we lost to have to do something like this, but it just goes to show you that they know we have a good offense and a good team, and you just don’t want to let a year go by when you have a chance to win.

“I thought he was one of the better guys on the market (this winter) to begin with, and to get him on a one-year deal is huge. It just shows you how much confidence Frank has in this team to win games. Unfortunately two guys go down. But to sign a guy like that…our rotation could settle in a be pretty good.”

“We have some guys who have to step up early, but I like our chances. We’ve got a good ballclub, and to get a guy like this to solidify that top of the rotation – he’s got a track record of being good. I’m excited. We have a first-class organization. They go out there and get a guy like that, and you’re smiling.”

**Braves CEO TERRY McGUIRK on going over budget by about $10 million to sign Santana

“We’re not in a rebuilding mode. We’re in a winning mode. And we’re standing in this clubhouse right now with a bunch of winners around us. We think that the time is now. We’ve always been willing to add to the payroll and add to the sustance of this club. We have been in a rebuilding mode going with you, going back four or five years. But that youth has all arrived. If you were in our spot, you would do the same thing. It’s the right time.

“Money is not the issue so much as, is it the right time to do it? We want to send a message to the guys in this clubhouse and our fans and our sponsors, to our organization, that we expect to win, we want to win. That was why.”

**JONNY VENTERS on Medlen likely headed for second TJ surgery, as Venters had a year ago

“Man, I just told him everyone’s here for you. Just stay positive, make the best decision for you and your family.”

“I think he’ll be fine. Obviously you don’t want to see something like that. But I just told him he’ll be OK, make a decision and go at it as hard as you can.”

**DAN UGGLA on Medlen injury and Santana signing

“It’s awful. To have that happen once sucks bad enough, then to have it happen as soon as it did … it just sucks. There’s no other way to say it. But with that loss, it’s a spot that needed to be filled. In here as a clubhouse, you’ve got your guys and you’re counting on leaning on these guys. Med is our ace; that’s our horse. When he goes down, that’s a big, big loss, man. The morale of the team is like, ‘Oh, my gosh, what’s going to happen now?’ To see the front office step up like they did and get Santana is a huge pick-me-up. We all love Medlen so much, and believe me, with the signing of Santana we haven’t forgotten anything that’s going on with Medlen. We’re all hurting for him. But that’s a spot where Santana is going to do a great job for us.”

**Mets third baseman DAVID WRIGHT on Santana signing

“They’re a very successful, winning franchise. And it seems like they make smart decisions. Today is no different. Unfortunately I saw Medlen go down. And to act right away and be able to get a talent like that makes them similarly strong. It’s a nice move. Like I said, they’re a very, very good organization. Moves like this just back that up. It’s a good acquisition.”


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About the Author

David O'Brien has covered the Atlanta Braves for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution since 2002.