Jur­rjens: Look­ing to have im­pact with Braves

The Covington News - - Sports -

John Smoltz, Tim Hud­son and Tom Glavine.

Jur­rjens showed his po­ten­tial when he started seven games for Detroit late last sea­son, go­ing 3-1 with a 4.70 ERA. In the pres­sure of a pen­nant race, he al­lowed only one hit in his sec­ond ma­jor league start, lead­ing the Tigers to a 2-1 vic­tory over the even­tual AL Eastcham­pion Cleve­land In­di­ans.

The Braves were so im­pressed they dealt short­stop Edgar Ren­te­ria, a five-time Al­lS­tar who bat­ted .332 last sea­son, for the young right-han­der and an­other prospect.

“I think they’re crazy,” Jur­rjens joked. “It would be an honor to be one of the five starters here.”

At­lanta won’t look so crazy if Jur­rjens, a slen­der pitcher who throws with sur­pris­ing power, much like a young Pe­dro Martinez, steps into the void that will soon be avail­able in an ag­ing ro­ta­tion: Glavine turns 42 be­fore open­ing day, while Smoltz will be 41 in May.

Jur­rjens may not be around at the start of the sea­son, but the Braves clearly be­lieve it’s just a mat­ter of time.

In an in­ter­est­ing twist, Jur­rjens landed with the Braves shortly af­ter the team cut ties with the most fa­mous player from Cu­ra­cao, 10-time Gold Glover An­druw Jones, who had spent his en­tire ca­reer with At­lanta be­fore sign­ing with the Los An­ge­les Dodgers over the win­ter.

Jur­rjens, who speaks four lan­guages, gives a nod to his Caribbean roots by wear­ing a shell neck­lace on the mound.

Base­ball has long been a pop­u­lar sport in Cu­ra­cao, along with soc­cer, and Jones mak­ing it to the big leagues while still in teens (not to men­tion hit­ting two homers in his first World Se­ries game) only in­creased the num­ber of young­sters back home pick­ing up a bat and ball.

Carl Jur­rjens was a big base­ball fan long be­fore Jones came along, tak­ing note of Aaron’s ca­reer while the Braves were still in Mil­wau­kee.

When the Braves be­gan broad­cast­ing nearly all their games over Ted Turner’s su­per­sta­tion, Jur­rjens was able to watch down in Cu­ra­cao. He en­dured some ter­ri­ble teams through the 1980s, but ev­ery­thing changed in ‘91 when At­lanta went from worst-tofirst and made it all the way to Game 7 of the World Se­ries.

A year later, the Braves were on the verge of los­ing to Pitts­burgh in the NL cham­pi­onship se­ries when Cabr­era, a lit­tle-known pinch-hit­ter, came through with one of the most dra­matic hits in base­ball his­tory.

Jair Jur­rjens grew up on the is­land play­ing mostly third base. He had a good glove and was a fast run­ner, his fa­ther re­mem­bered, but his ca­reer went in a dif­fer­ent di­rec­tion when he got a chance to pitch at age 16 with a ma­jor league scout in at­ten­dance.

His fa­ther has never at­tended a Braves game in per­son, but that will soon change. Jair is work­ing on ar­range­ments to fly in his fa­ther for spring train­ing, and he’ll surely be in At­lanta when his kid pitches for the first time at Turner Field.

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