ST. LOUIS - Greg Colbrunn arrived in the visitors clubhouse at Busch Stadium Friday afternoon just in time to watch his new teammates gather for a team meeting, their first this season.
Players met without manager Bobby Cox and his coaches for a few minutes, then Cox and his staff entered the clubhouse and the entire team met for another 25 minutes.
There was no yelling, no shouting, no finger-pointing, players said later. There were no Knute Rockne-type speeches. During the meeting, Tom Glavine, Jeff Blauser, Kenny Lofton, Mark Wohlers and Ryan Klesko got up and spoke of getting back to playing Braves baseball, getting the little things done that win games and focusing on winning a world championship, rather than concentrating on individual accomplishments.
Colbrunn must have thought he had arrived in the wrong clubhouse. Acquired from the Twins Thursday for a player to be named later, he went from a team 18 games under .500 to a club 28 games over .500 and he must have been wondering what all the fussing was about.
"I'm very happy going from a team that's struggling to a team with the best record in the National League," he said. "It's going to be exciting. Every game means something. (The postseason) is something I haven't experienced yet and I'm looking forward to it."
Colbrunn almost became a Brave last winter, but seeing Fred McGriff at first base, he chose to sign a one-year, $750,000 contract as a free agent with the Twins, figuring he'd get more playing time. It didn't quite work out that way. He found himself stuck in a platoon at first base and received only 217 at-bats, after amassing over 500 at-bats in each of the last two seasons with the Marlins.
"(The Twins) looked like the best opportunity to go in and get some at-bats," Colbrunn said. "But I didn't get as many at-bats as I hoped."
Cox was delighted to see Colbrunn arrive. When the first baseman was with the Expos organization in the late 1980s, Cox, then the Braves general manager, tried to trade for him. Then, last winter the Braves made Colbrunn an offer and couldn't lure him to Atlanta. Now, they finally have him and Cox plans to use him as a pinch hitter and to spell McGriff, in addition to duties as the third catcher.
"I love Colbrunn," Cox said. "We've been trying to get him for awhile. He's a very good hitter off the bench. He's a tough out."
Colbrunn is a valuable addition to the bench, but he doesn't solve an immediate problem for the Braves. With Keith Lockhart on the disabled list and when Ryan Klesko and Michael Tucker are in the lineup together, Cox doesn't have a left-handed pinch hitter. He downplayed the importance, pointing out that Colbrunn hits right-handers (.271) and left-handers (.291) almost equally well.
"We've got Tucker or Klesko on the bench when I give one of them a rest," Cox said.
A producer with FOX approached catcher Eddie Perez in the clubhouse Friday and asked permission to affix small cameras to each side of his mask for this afternoon's game with the Cardinals. Perez made excuses and declined, knowing that Greg Maddux did not want anyone gaining a unique perspective on his work. Said Maddux, "It can be distracting and it might give the hitters something else to look at. Why take a chance that they might learn something? It's great for the game, the fans want it, but I'm a little concerned with Eddie's throwing and the look. It looks different. You hate to say no, but you've got to do what's best for your team. The bottom line is it can't help us win a game and it might hurt us down the road."
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