Two days after being traded from the Cubs to the Braves, pitcher Paul Maholm says Atlanta was “landing spot No. 1."
ATLANTA — Left-hander Paul Maholm settled in Wednesday with the Braves, a team he says was “landing spot No. 1 for me” if he had to be traded from the Cubs.
The Braves acquired Maholm and outfielder Reed Johnson from Chicago for right-handers Arodys Vizcaino and Jaye Chapman on Monday night. Maholm joined the Braves Wednesday. Johnson is starting in right field in Wednesday night’s game against Miami.
The Braves placed right-hander Jair Jurrjens on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right groin to clear a spot for Maholm, who will make his Braves debut when he starts on Saturday against Houston.
Maholm, from Greenwood, Miss., said he grew up cheering for the Braves. He said Tom Glavine, also a lefty, was his favorite pitcher.
Maholm, 30, was 9-6 with a 3.74 ERA in his only season in Chicago. He was 4-0 with a 1.23 ERA in July. Overall, Maholm is 62-79 in eight seasons, including seven with Pittsburgh.
Maholm probably wouldn’t have been traded to the Braves if not for a decision by his former Cubs teammate Ryan Dempster to turn down a trade to Atlanta. The Cubs sent Dempster to Texas.
“He earned the right to pick where he wanted to play,” Maholm said Wednesday. “You understand at the time it wasn’t the right fit for him. Hopefully, he does well in Texas and we do well and make him regret his decision.”
Maholm said there is “a little more pep to your step when you jump right into a pennant race” with Atlanta, which began Wednesday 2½ games behind first-place Washington in the NL East.
“They’re playing great,” said Maholm of the Braves. “I’m just trying to hope to jell in the clubhouse and do my job every fifth day.”
In five career starts at Turner Field, Maholm is 1-1 with a 1.69 ERA.
“I don’t know if it’s because I grew up watching the Braves and wanting to play here,” Maholm said when asked about his success in Atlanta. “I’ve obviously felt comfortable in the stadium and I’ve pitched well. I want to make sure that continues.”
Maholm said he expects to be nervous before his first start with the Braves.
“There’s going to be butterflies just because you want to come in and make a good first impression,” Maholm said. “I’ve made enough starts in my career, once you get on the mound you find a comfort zone.”
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said Jurrjens, who was removed from the rotation last month, hurt his groin in a relief appearance on Tuesday night.
“I don’t think it’s anything major, but we need to make a move now,” Gonzalez said. “I think maybe in three or four days he’ll throw a bullpen and then go on a rehab assignment.”
Gonzalez said the arrival of Johnson provided the opening to give centerfielder Michael Bourn a rare break from the starting lineup. Bourn had started 102 of 103 games. Jason Heyward is making his second start in centerfield with Johnson taking Heyward’s normal spot in right field.
Catcher Brian McCann also is getting a rest. David Ross is starting.