Notes: Farnsworth happy to be home

Notes: Farnsworth happy to be home

ATLANTA -- Understandably tired, Kyle Farnsworth walked into the Braves clubhouse Monday morning and got his first opportunity to wear the uniform of the hometown team that he had followed throughout his childhood.

"It's a great place to be traded," Farnsworth said. "I watched them when I was growing up, so it's kind of like a dream come true."

Farnsworth hasn't had much time to dream over the past 48 hours. The 29-year-old right-handed reliever awoke around 8 a.m. PT in Oakland on Sunday for an afternoon game. A short time later, he learned that he'd been traded to the Braves for right-handed pitchers Roman Colon and Zach Miner.

After the game, he flew home with his Tigers teammates and then caught a 7 a.m. ET flight from Detroit to Atlanta. While the experience wasn't an enviable one, it was easier because he was coming to a familiar spot. The veteran reliever was raised in suburban Atlanta and has a residence there.

"It was a good surprise, and I'm happy about it," said Farnsworth, who has limited opponents to a .192 batting average and registered 55 strikeouts in 42 2/3 innings this year.

Farnsworth will be used primarily as a setup man for Braves closer Chris Reitsma, who on Monday was named the National League Rolaids Man of the Month for July. During the month, Reitsma went 2-0 with a 1.17 ERA and converted each of his eight save opportunities.

Although Farnsworth had enjoyed the opportunity to be Detroit's closer since the All-Star break, he isn't upset that he'll be setting up for Reitsma.

"It doesn't matter to me," Farnsworth said. "As long as I'm pitching and playing here, that's fine with me."

Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski opted to trade Farnsworth because the two sides couldn't come to terms on a three-year deal that would have kept the hurler and his 100 mph fastball in Detroit. He is still owed a little more than $600,000 of his $1.9 million salary for this year and will be a free agent at the end of this season.

Throughout his seven-year big-league career, Farnsworth has gained plenty of attention with his velocity. But during his first bullpen session as a Brave on Monday morning, his new pitching coach, Leo Mazzone, also saw an effective slider and changeup.

"He's got good stuff, and he's going to be a good addition for us for hopefully a long time," Mazzone said.

Coming into this season, his first with Detroit, Farnsworth had a 4.78 career ERA. In his 46 appearances this season, he's allowed a total of 11 runs. Seven of those runs came in the span of two games.

Farnsworth contends he's still basically the same pitcher. But the numbers seem to indicate he's finally become the pitcher most thought he'd be his first six big-league seasons with the Cubs.

"I'm just having fun. I've had fun before," Farnsworth said. "But this is just one of those years, I guess."

Hampton improving: Mike Hampton threw a bullpen session on Sunday afternoon and came away feeling a little better about his strained lower back. He believes he could make a Minor League rehab appearance this week.

"It's getting there," Hampton said. "It's not quite there yet."

Hampton suffered the injury after getting out of the whirlpool and going to his locker two weeks ago. This ailment came just a few days after he'd been activated from the disabled list after a left forearm strain.

If all goes well, Hampton believes he'll need two rehab appearances before being able to rejoin the Braves starting rotation. Since leaving a May 14 start because of his arm, he's totaled just six innings for Atlanta.

Catchy nickname: With rookie outfielder Jeff Francoeur's cult following building by the day, Braves third-base coach Fredi Gonzalez wants to make sure everybody remembers who gave the lad his nickname, "Frenchy."

During the Instructional League in 2002, Gonzalez looked at Francoeur's name and came up with the nickname used by most of the current Braves.

Since "Frenchy" had batted .413 with six homers and 16 RBIs in his first 15 Major League games, Gonzalez sees numerous marketing deals in the future of the 21-year-old beloved outfielder, who was raised in suburban Atlanta.

"I told him I'm taking like 3 percent of the profits if he starts a clothing line or something," Gonzalez said. "It's getting that way. Pretty soon, you're going to see some road named after him."

Loose group: Before Monday afternoon's game, Chipper Jones and Adam LaRoche were in the Braves clubhouse lassoing a miniature steel calf, which stood about 6 inches tall and weighed approximately 2 pounds.

LaRoche, who owns the toy, was trying to teach the veteran third baseman how to properly throw the rope. But Jones chose instead to do it his way, which was the over-the-shoulder version most often seen by those who are riding horses.

As for John Smoltz, he spent about three minutes in the press box. Dressed in full uniform, the veteran hurler proclaimed he'd arrived to serve as a media critic.

"I can say I've seen and done it all now," a smiling Smoltz said as he exited.

Such are the sights you might see from a group of guys who had won six games in a row and established a five-game division lead.

Braves bits: Braves reliever Jay Powell, who broke his arm on Friday night, was scheduled to undergo surgery in Atlanta on Monday. ... Brian Jordan's left knee has been feeling better and he could begin a Minor League rehab assignment within the week.

Coming up: Jorge Sosa (6-1, 2.63 ERA) will face Ramon Ortiz (6-6, 5.84 ERA) in the opener of a three-games series against the Reds at Great American Ballpark on Tuesday night.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.