Originally created 06/19/97

Braves notes

TORONTO - There were jokes about the shortest infield in baseball, quips about a spring training "B" game and quizzical glances at the strangest lineup manager Bobby Cox has ever posted in the clubhouse.

Cox had three lineups ready Wednesday afternoon and waited to see if Fred McGriff could play. When he found the first baseman still can't throw because of a sore left shoulder, Cox went with Plan C.

He started Keith Lockhart at third base, Rafael Belliard at shortstop, Mark Lemke at second and Mike Mordecai at first base, the first time Mordecai had started there in his career.

If that wasn't bizarre enough, Chipper Jones made his first-ever start in right field, while Ryan Klesko returned to left field and Andruw Jones replaced the injured Kenny Lofton in center.

Adding to the list of firsts, Jeff Blauser was in the lineup as a designated hitter.

All the changes were brought about by injuries to Lofton and Michael Tucker Tuesday night. The pair were evaluated Wednesday and the club will make a decision Friday whether either one will go on the disabled list. Just in case, outfielder Danny Bautista was recalled from Class AAA Richmond and joined the team Wednesday.

"There's only so many options and you weigh them all," Cox said. "The problem is to DL or not to DL. I want to try and get through it for a few days."

Lofton and Tucker received treatment Wednesday and trainers are hopeful that each will recover in a couple of days. Tucker, who suffered a strained muscle in his mid-back while making a throw in the seventh inning Tuesday, felt he'd be ready by Friday. X-rays of Lofton's left groin Wednesday were negative and trainers are describing him as day-to-day.

"I'd say I'd be ready to play in Philadelphia, but then again, it's all up to Bobby and what he wants," Tucker said. "I'm sure I can run, but I think the only problem is going down to catch a ground ball."

Meanwhile, catcher Javier Lopez had fluid drained from his left knee Wednesday and was still limping. He missed a second straight game and hopes he'll be ready by Friday.

"Right now it still hurts a little bit, but the place where they put the needle in is where I feel the pain," Lopez said.

After testing his sore left shoulder Wednesday, McGriff felt he needed another two days before he could play. That forced Mordecai into his first start at first base and pushed Chipper Jones into the outfield.

Mordecai always carries a first baseman's mitt with him for just such an emergency, but Jones didn't have an outfielder's glove and borrowed Bautista's for the game.

A half-hour before the game started Jones took a refresher course in outfield play, going out to right field and taking fly balls with coach Jim Beauchamp.

"It's easier going to the outfield then coming from out there to the infield," Jones said. "Catch the ball and hit the cutoff man."

HIGH HOPES:Left-hander Terrell Wade hasn't thrown a ball since going on the disabled list with a partial tear of his left flexor muscle June 7. He hopes to begin throwing again this weekend and be ready to pitch in another 10 days to two weeks.

"They just want to make sure it's healed good so I don't have to worry about it," Wade said. "Once it's pain-free, I can be ready anytime they want me back."

WIN NO. 900:Tuesday's win was Cox's 900th victory as manager of the Braves. He has 1,255 wins and remains in second place on the active list, trailing Tony LaRussa, who has a 1,439-1,294 record.


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