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Boyer placed on waivers


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Pittsburgh — Blaine Boyer was designated for assignment by the Braves on Saturday, a move that could end his nine-year stint with his hometown team.

Boyer, who was out of minor-league options, can be claimed on waivers by any major-league team. If he goes unclaimed, the Braves could outright him to Class AAA Gwinnett.

“Sometimes moving on to a different club is good for a guy,” manager Bobby Cox said. “Gets him some fresh air somewhere else.”

The Braves had to make a roster move Saturday to open a spot for left-hander Jo-Jo Reyes, who was recalled from Gwinnett to start Saturday afternoon’s game against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

After struggling during the last two months of the 2008 season, Boyer was off to a rough start in 2009, posting a 40.50 ERA and .429 opponents’ average in three relief appearances.

The hard-throwing right-hander was charged with four runs while recording one out Wednesday against Florida. For the season, he had allowed three hits, six earned runs and three walks in 1-1/3 innings, and he also hit a batter.

“You can start putting pounds and pounds of pressure on yourself,” Cox said.

The manager told him of the move early Saturday at PNC Park, and Boyer, 27, packed and left the ballpark before reporters entered the clubhouse.

In 25 appearances since July 26, 2008, Boyer had a 14.73 ERA and .358 opponents’ average. He pitched 18-1/3 innings during that period and was charged with 29 hits (seven homers), 30 earned runs and 10 walks while recording 21 strikeouts.

Before his second-half fade, Boyer was one of the Braves’ bullpen stalwarts in the 2008 season, ranking at or near the top among major-league leaders in relief appearances while posting a 3.76 ERA and .229 opponents’ average in 54 games through July 25.

The former Walton High three-sport standout was a third-round draft pick by the Braves in 2000, and spent five seasons in the minors before making 43 appearances for Atlanta in 2005. He missed most of the 2006 season after shoulder surgery and part of the 2007 season after an oblique-muscle strain.

“He’s a great kid, and he’s got enough experience now to get it going,” Cox said. “Roger [McDowell, pitching coach] taught him a slide-step, to keep runners from just circling the bases on him. And Roger taught him a nice, tight slider, what he used to strike out [Florida’s] Cody Ross the other day.

“So he’s learning things, and he just needs to keep developing.”

What he needs to do most is throw strikes consistently. In an April 8 game at Philadelphia, Boyer faced two batters with the bases loaded and walked both of them, throwing eight balls in nine pitches before he was replaced.

“That’s No. 1, no matter who you are,” Cox said. “You’ve got to throw strikes.”

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