Sixteen hours after questioning Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez’s decision to replace him with two runners on and none out in the seventh inning of Friday’s 3-1 loss to St. Louis, pitcher Kris Medlen apologized to Gonzalez and said he was wrong to have aired his complaints to reporters.
“I just wanted to tell him that all I was trying to say was that I wanted to be out there, I’m a competitor and whatever else,” Medlen said Saturday. “But it just came out the wrong way. I vented to the wrong people. But I think he expects that out of his starters — I’m here because I want to be out there (on the mound), you know? I want to be in there, and I’m a competitor.
“I felt like I was the guy who could have got the job done, but Downsy came in and did a great job, too. And I know what that’s like, being a reliever and having to come in in that situation.”
Reliever Scott Downs was summoned with the Braves trailing 2-1, after Medlen gave up a double and a single to start the seventh inning Friday. Downs threw a wild pitch, struck out David Freese with runners at second and third, then walked Daniel Descalso before pitcher Adam Wainwright’s bases-loaded sacrifice fly pushed the lead to 3-1.
Responding to the first question in his postgame interview, a general question about him pitching well on a night when Wainwright pitched great, Medlen initially mentioned how he cruised until making a bad pitch on a two-strike change-up that Matt Holliday hit for a solo homer and 2-1 lead in the sixth.
Then Medlen, who had not been asked about being taken out of the game, brought up the subject.
“I got taken out with 78 pitches,” he said. “I was just about to start battling. I wasn’t given the opportunity. I guess I’m voicing the fact that I didn’t appreciate that, but I don’t know what kind of mentality we’re trying to create for our starters. I feel like I should be able to work out of some jams.”
It didn’t take long for Medlen — always candid and usually his own harshest critic — to regret the comments.
“I did my five-minute venting to myself that I usually do, about how I feel and whatever else,” he said, “but I didn’t give myself the five-minute cooling-off period alone — I did it to you guys.”
Gonzalez kept his next-day comments on the matter to a minimum.
“He’s fine. It’s fine,” the manager said. “I don’t even want to talk about it (publicly).”
Medlen (10-12) was charged with six hits, three runs and one walk in six-plus innings and lost his second consecutive start after winning four in a row.
R. Johnson progressing slowly: The injury-plagued Braves could sure use veteran outfielder Reed Johnson right about now, but it’s taking longer than they expected for his Achilles’ tendinitis to subside. On the disabled list since July 29, Johnson has continued throwing and hitting, but began light jogging only three days ago.
“It feels OK,” he said. “I still feel it back there, but the good thing is I’m coming to the field the next day, and it doesn’t feel worse.”
Johnson said he didn’t know how long it might be before he’s ready to play because he’d not previously dealt with an Achilles’ injury severe enough to keep him out of more than a game or two. He hopes to be back at least for the postseason.
“Traditionally, Achilles stuff takes a while, just because it’s a tendon and it takes a while to heal,” he said. “But there’s really no risk, for me. There’s no reason I shouldn’t be able to, I think, at least try to be back at some point this year.
“Obviously you want to get some at-bats going into (the postseason). So ideally, I’d like to get some playing time and do some things before postseason.”
Molina reclaims batting lead: Back from the DL and scorching, Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina was 13-for-26 with seven doubles and two homers in his past six games before Saturday to move ahead of the Braves’ Chris Johnson in the National League batting race.
Molina went 3-for-4 with two doubles and two runs Friday, raising his league-best average to .337. Johnson (.332) had three homers and 17 RBIs in his past 18 games before Saturday, but was 18-for-70 (.257) in that span to drop his average 15 points.
“It’s amazing how good (Molina) has made himself, how he’s evolved,” Gonzalez said. “In his first two years in the major leagues, as a hitter he was an out. Almost an automatic out. Now he’s put up some offensive numbers the past three years, and his body, he’s changed his body. He was a roly-poly guy.
“He’s done a really, really good job as a major league player, getting better and better. He’s got a chance to win the batting title, and I could outrun him right now, when he’s beat up as a catcher. That’s hard to do.”
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