Jair Jurrjens is upset? Braves fans are, too

According to a story by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Jeff Schultz, Atlanta Braves pitcher Jair Jurrjens is starting to feel cast aside by the organization. The National League’s Pitcher of the Month in May 2011 was sent down to AAA Gwinnett last month and hasn’t been incredibly successful during his minor-league stint.

Now, with a struggling staff in Atlanta (likely due, in part, to Jurrjens’ unexpected, prolonged absence), the Braves have sent relief pitcher Kris Medlen down to Gwinnett as well, but for a different reason. They’re “stretching out” Medlen, so he can transition back into being a starting pitcher and rejoining the Atlanta starting rotation.

Jurrjens sees this happening, and he’s hurt by it. He told the AJC:

You hear stuff. When the Medlen stuff happened, people around here, my teammates, were like, ‘Wow, they didn’t even think to call you back up?’ People were asking me, ‘Did they say anything to you?’ It just shows me what I mean to them. It doesn’t feel good, but that’s OK. It’s business.

It is business. But it’s the Braves that are getting the short end of this deal.

Jurrjens was one of my favorite baseball players over the last few years. He had a couple of dominant seasons where every time he took the mound, there was no doubt he was going to give the Braves a quality start.

Then, a knee injury took a lot out of his delivery. The Braves sent him down to the minors to regain strength and confidence in his motion after it was clear his pitches were missing some velocity.

This is where I’m torn. Jurrjens has never been a problem, so there’s no reason to think the Braves are keeping him in the minors for any reason other than performance. He’s a highly-paid pitcher, so he would be best-suited pitching in the big leagues.

On the other hand, what is Jurrjens supposed to say? When a pitcher was previously a star, but is now spending an extended amount of time in AAA, it’s going to garner media attention. And Jurrjens is likely being asked questions like, “Why do you think you’re still down here?” and, “Do you feel like the Braves have forgotten you?”

It’s hard for even the most optimistic pitcher to stay upbeat when he sees what’s going on around him. Still, Braves fans are not going to be happy to see a struggling star complain about his woes.

Especially because they’re still paying his salary.

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