Originally created 08/31/97

Braves notebook: Glavine realizes his dream to pitch at Fenway tonight



BOSTON -- Tom Glavine, who grew up 25 miles west of Boston in Billerica, will be fulfilling a childhood dream of pitching at Fenway Park when he goes to the mound Sunday night (8 p.m., ESPN) in the series finale. The left-hander, who has one win and five no-decisions since July 16, just hopes the offense continues to post big numbers.

Glavine, who has received an average of five runs per start, watched the bullpen blow a 6-2 lead last Tuesday night against the Astros, giving him his 10th no-decision. In those 10 starts, he has a 2.87 ERA.

"For me to come here during the summer has been special," Glavine said. "Hopefully it will be like a postseason game and once I get out there the anxiety will fade. It's going to be an interesting night. It's going to be interesting to see the reaction of fans toward the hometown boy."

Traditionally, left-handers haven't had much success at Fenway because of the Green Monster in left field provides a tempting target for right-handed hitters. Glavine said he doesn't plan to change his style or his strategy.

"In all the years I've seen games here, I've seen left-handers have success, so it can be done," he said. "Just because the Green Monster is looming in left field, I'm not going to change the way I pitch."

ROSTER MOVES: The Braves made a roster move Saturday, activating rookie pitcher Kevin Millwood and optioning rookie reliever Kerry Ligtenberg to Class A Durham (N.C.). In reality, it was a paper shuffle. Ligtenberg will remain with the Braves this weekend and return when rosters expand Monday.

Following Saturday's 15-2 win in which Millwood worked seven strong innings, he was optioned to Durham and catcher Tim Spehr was called up from Class AAA Richmond (Va.). To make room on the 40-man roster for Spehr, left-hander Terrell Wade was transferred from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day list.

Durham's season ended Saturday, and so did the Braves' long-time affiliation with the city. The team is moving to Myrtle Beach, S.C., next season and will remain a Braves' affiliate in the Carolina League, while Durham will become a Class AAA affiliate of the expansion Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

In a joint project between the city and county, Myrtle Beach is building a $12 million stadium for the Braves adjacent to Broadway At The Beach, a development about 11/2 miles from the beach. However, the stadium won't be completed in time for the team to open there next season and it will share a stadium with the Braves' Class A Danville (Va.) affiliate in the Appalachian League for at least half the season.

SURPRISE RECORD: John Smoltz was unaware his 200th strikeout Friday night gave him a franchise record four seasons of 200 or more strikeouts, one more than Jim Whitney (1883-86) and Phil Niekro (1977-79).

"It's nothing in the long-term as far as the great pitchers are concerned," How many times did Nolan Ryan do it? But for the Atlanta Braves, it's nice. I'm honored."

Of more importance to Smoltz is the $50 he donates to Atlanta's Table, a charity food bank, and St. Gerard's Charity, a Catholic school he attended in Lansing, Mich., for every strikeout.

"(One of the directors) was joking with me earlier in the season and he accused me of trying to save money and I said, `Don't worry, I'll kick it in,"' Smoltz said. "The way this season started, I thought it was going to be tough to top last year."

Smoltz attended St. Gerard's grade school and learned to play baseball there. He has helped the school raise money for several years to buy uniforms for the baseball team and rebuild the baseball fields.

"It's my dream that those kids will have the same opportunities that I did to play at a great facility that I started at," Smoltz said.

Besides attracting other sponsors who match his contributions, Smoltz has also gotten the school's students involved. Many students, he said, contribute a dime or quarter for each of his strikeouts.