Jurrjens eager to pinpoint struggles, work back

Jurrjens eager to pinpoint struggles, work back

ATLANTA -- Jair Jurrjens skipped Triple-A Toledo en route to Detroit during what he thought would be his only Minor League journey. But the Ohio city is where he will be pitching Sunday as he tries to make it back to the Braves.

A National League All-Star last year, Jurrjens was optioned to Gwinnett late Monday night after falling to 0-2 with a 9.37 ERA in four starts this season. The Braves needed a spot in the rotation for Tim Hudson, but the move still caught many, including Jurrjens, off-guard.

After a long and sobering flight back from Los Angeles the next day, though, the 26-year-old right-hander reported to his new team in suburban Atlanta on Wednesday, well ahead of the 72-hour reporting deadline.

Jurrjens, who missed the final two months of last season because of a knee injury, knows that he has a lot of work ahead.

"I can't be mad at anybody other than me," said the native of Curacao, labeling the demotion a "reality check."

Is Jurrjens' knee still a problem? Did he hurt his arm trying to compensate?

"I wish I had something to blame it on," said Jurrjens, who has lost velocity and movement on his pitches.

"We know for sure he's not hurt," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said.

But before Gwinnett left for a road trip beginning Friday in Toledo, Jurrjens admitted that he needs to built up his leg strength and rebuild his confidence.

"You go through a rough patch, and it's hard to figure out what's going on," he said. "I need to get that mindset back that I'm going to get you out. Then I think I'll be fine."

"He knew he's not right," said Gonzalez, who informed Jurrjens of the demotion after he lasted just three-plus innings against the Dodgers. "You could see his body language, his frustration."

Jurrjens, who has won 14 games once and 13 twice for the Braves, is scheduled to follow his start on Sunday in Toledo with one at Columbus next Friday in the finale of Gwinnett's eight-game trip. The G-Braves, who lead the South Division of the International League, have a 10-game homestand May 5-14.