Originally created 09/16/97

Braves notes



ATLANTA - There's a power drain at Turner Field and it has nothing to do with a lighting problem.

Coming from a stadium that was affectionately known as "The Launching Pad" to a new and bigger stadium, the Braves have seen their power drop off sharply.

Through 73 home games last year, the Braves hit 96 home runs. In the same number of games this year their total is 69, a difference of 27 homers.

The contrast is easy to explain. Balls that used to go out at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, are falling into outfielder's gloves or hitting a wall at Turner Field.

"It's a big ballpark," Ryan Klesko said. "Me and Fred (McGriff) and Chipper (Jones) are all gap hitters and the gaps are bigger. You've got to crush it to get it out."

The difference between the Braves' power at home and on the road is in direct proportion to their success in the two locations. They have hit 92 homers in 75 road games and posted a National League-best 48-27 record, while their lack of power at home has produced a 43-30 record at Turner Field.

"Everybody doesn't understand that these guys have to get adapted to this park too," hitting coach Clarence Jones said. "I think once they play in the park for a couple of years they'll forget about the alleys out there."

In the meantime, hitters admit the 390-foot gap in right-center field and the 380-foot gap in left-center field has affected them. Jones agrees. By trying to put a little extra in their swings or by attempting to pull the ball, McGriff & Co. have added to their woes.

"It's more mental than anything," Jones said. "When we go on the road it's no problem. You try to do a little extra (at home) and that doesn't do anything but get you in trouble. They know as well as anybody that a ball they hit here that doesn't go would have gone out in the stadium across the street."

BEST IN PINCH: Since arriving in a trade with the Twins Aug. 21, Greg Colbrunn has been the club's best pinch hitter, with seven hits in nine at-bats.

"I talked to (Colorado's) John Vanderwal, who's a good friend of mine, and he said he just goes up there and hacks," Colbrunn said. "I try to have a good at-bat and hit the ball hard."

Colbrunn can become a free agent following the season and he indicated a willingness to stay in Atlanta Monday. But he turned down an opportunity to sign with the Braves last winter because he didn't feel he'd receive enough playing time at first base with Fred McGriff here.

"This is a great place to play and anybody would be crazy not to want to play here," Colbrunn said. "I'll look at the situation, where to go to get the most at-bats and the state the team is in. Three hundred at-bats here might be better than 500 at-bats somewhere else."