Originally created 07/05/97

Braves notes

MONTREAL- Where has Fred McGriff's power gone?

The first baseman, who hasn't homered since June 22, has only 10 homers in 307 at-bats after hitting 20 in 341 at-bats during the first half last year. More ominously, 66 of his 86 hits have been singles and he's on pace to finish with only 19 home runs and less than 100 RBI.

"From an RBI standpoint, I'm almost right where I want to be," McGriff said. "I can still get 100 RBI. The only thing that's down is my power numbers."

Those numbers are way, way down. After arriving from the Padres in a July 1993 trade, McGriff averaged a home run every 13.4 at-bats the remainder of the season, then hit one homer every 12.5 at-bats in 1994.

Since then his power numbers have steadily declined. He averaged a home run every 19.5 at-bats in 1995, one every 22 at-bats in 1996 and is averaging one every 30.7 at-bats this season.

"I made some mistakes along the way," said McGriff, who is always tinkering with his stance. "I'm experimenting with things and trying different stuff and it got me in trouble a little bit. I'm trying to get better and sometimes it backfires."

McGriff, who hit at least 30 home runs in seven straight seasons from 1988-94, has not reached 30 since '94. His power to the gaps has also disappeared this season. He collected a career-high 37 doubles last season, two shy of the Atlanta record, but has only nine this year.

"I've got to get back to hitting the ball to left field," said McGriff, who had a pair of singles and two walks in Thursday's 15-2 win over the Expos. "But it's easier said than done. We've played 82, 83 games, there's still time."

It seems like time is running out on McGriff's career in Atlanta. He will probably be left exposed in the expansion draft this winter and if he's taken by Phoenix or Tampa Bay, the Braves have Randall Simon ready at Class AAA Richmond. The left-handed-hitting Simon is batting .315 with 10 homers, 30 doubles and 65 RBI in 82 games.

McGriff, an All-Star for the last three years and four of the last five years, won't be in Cleveland next week. He'll be home with his family in Tampa, resting his sore left shoulder.

"I've got to rest my body," McGriff said. "I've got a very bad body."

MORE THROWING: Terrell Wade threw off a mound Friday afternoon for the first time since going on the disabled list June 7 with a partial tear of his left flexor muscle. He threw for about 10 minutes at 60 percent velocity and indicated afterward that he felt no pain in his elbow.

The plan is for him to throw again Sunday, play catch at the stadium during the All-Star break and begin a rehabilitation assignment with a minor league club in a week or so.

"I'm going to have to go somewhere and get some innings in," Wade said. "It felt strange (being on a mound again), but I've got to work with it and it will fall back into place again."

Wade didn't throw any breaking pitches during Friday's workout. But he was pleased with how his elbow felt and is anxious to begin pitching again.

"Some guys regroup faster than others," he said. "It's all up to how my arm responds."

SHORTS: Since moving to Atlanta in 1966, the Braves had played a Fourth of July game on the road only seven times before Friday's game. It was only their second game on the Fourth since 1978.

  • Ryan Klesko had three hits in Thursday's game, raising his average to .261, the highest it's been since May 25.
  • The quartet of Tom Glavine, Denny Neagle, Greg Maddux and John Smoltz have been dominant in the last four games. They have allowed only one earned run in their last 302/3 innings for a microscopic 0.29 ERA.

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