ATLANTA -- Mired in a .138 slide and without an RBI since May 21, Chipper Jones called his hitting guru and asked him to fly in and look at his swing.
So, Larry Jones Sr. watched his son swing during batting practice Friday, then worked with him in the indoor cage. Nothing is seriously wrong with Chipper's swing, he said. Nothing a better approach at the plate won't cure.
"I think the biggest thing is going out and competing," Larry Sr. said. "I told him on the phone just go out and compete like you always have, you against the pitcher, nothing else."
Chipper, who has seen his average fall from .313 to .285 in 10 days, called his Dad Wednesday at his home in Pierson, Fla., and asked him to come to Atlanta. The elder Jones arrived, but with no magical cure for Chipper.
"It's a moral support thing," Larry Sr. said. "If some of the balls he hit hard the last two weeks had fallen in I wouldn't be here."
It's more than moral support, Chipper said. "My Dad knows me better than anyone else," he said. "He's seen me swing longer than everyone else. He knows my fundamentals of hitting. I'm a little bit frustrated right now.I know eventually things will turn around, but before this year I've never gone 10-11 at-bats without a hit. I feel good at the plate, but I'm not getting any results which maybe means something is wrong mechanically."
Larry Sr. tapes all of Chipper's at-bats during the season, then presents the tape to him at Christmas. The tapes arrived a little early this year. Chipper has been studying himself without coming up with any answers.
"When's the last time I was hitting .280?" he said. "I'm know I'm a .300-.310 hitter. To be hitting .280 with not nearly the power or RBI is frustrating." ...
After missing Thursday's game with a sore right forearm, shortstop Jeff Blauser returned to the lineup Friday. Blauser, hit by a pitch in Tuesday's game, reported the injury was much improved, though he wore a protective guard on the underside of his arm.
"It's good enough to go out and play," Blauser said. "I feel ready. I hit and I threw. It feels fine." ...
The Braves recently wrote a check to major league baseball for $2.2 million, their revenue-share payment for 1997. The Braves and 12 other teams wrote checks, while 13 small-market teams, including the Expos, received varying amounts.
The Expos, who trail the Braves by 7 1/2 games in the National League East, received $2.2 million.
"We try and look at it as what's good for the industry," Braves general manager John Schuerholz said. ...
Just when they need them the most, Braves bats are cooling off late in games. Through the first six innings, the lineup is batting .291 with 32 home runs and 171 RBI. But from the seventh inning on, the bats are producing a .268 average with 14 homers and 71 RBI ...
Denny Neagle goes to the mound tonight with a decided advantage in his career against the Giants. The left-hander is 8-1 with a 3.00 ERA in 14 career appearances against San Francisco.
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