Originally created 07/11/98

Braves notes: Cox won't rest on lead



MIAMI -- It's not that Bobby Cox feels uncomfortable with a 13 1/2 game lead, the Braves' largest since finishing the 1995 season with a 21-game bulge over the Mets and Phillies.

It's just that he doesn't want to feel too comfortable.

That's the message he passed along to the Braves during a brief meeting before Thursday night's game. He emphasized treating each game of the second half like the club was in the middle of a pennant race.

"You have to go out and play every day like you have a one-game lead and I told them that in the meeting," Cox said. "We haven't won anything yet. There's no reason not to give the same intensity every night, no reason. You go all-out or you don't play."

If history hasn't taught Cox anything -- remember the 1964 Phillies? -- his experience with the Blue Jays in 1985 certainly did. He remembers leading the division by 10 games early in the season and finishing first by only two games.

"I told them, `You think you have a big lead? It means nothing,"' Cox said. "That's the way I'm going to manage it and I expect you to play that way."'

KLESKO STILL HURTING: Ryan Klesko increased his effort during batting practice to 80 percent Friday and hopes to return to the lineup tonight. However, Cox is skeptical the left fielder is ready and says it might be Sunday or Tuesday before he makes it back.

Klesko, who had his appendix removed June 29, swung a bat lightly Thursday, then started driving pitches Friday. He also jogged.

"Yesterday I couldn't hit the ball past the outfielders," he said. "Today a couple of swings hurt, but that's just scar tissue. I need to see some pitches. I'd like to pinch hit tonight."

PRIDE TO BE ACTIVATED: Curtis Pride, on the disabled list since cutting his left index finger June 27, probably will be activated Tuesday and first baseman Randall Simon will return to Class AAA Richmond.

Cox wants him to play in a minor-league game before he returns, so Monday he probably will go to Richmond, then join the team in New York.

"Maybe Triple-A one game," Cox said. "It probably wouldn't hurt."

Doctors removed six stitches from Pride's finger Saturday, then took out the last four Thursday. He says his finger is a little sore, but it doesn't hamper him swinging a bat and he's anxious to start playing again.

"I'm ready to go," he said.

ODOM PASSES AWAY: Longtime Pirates' scout Boyd Odom, who lived in the Atlanta area and scouted Braves' home games, suffered an apparent heart attack Friday and died.

His death shocked his many friends on the club and TBS broadcaster Joe Simpson, who said he usually had him on his radio show at least once a season.

"He'd stick his head in the booth and say, `I'm not intruding on you, am I?"' Simpson remembered.

Jim Guadagno, who handles the radar gun behind home plate for the Braves, sat alongside Odom during every game at Turner Field. He recalled Odom talking about running in last week's Peachtree road race and speaking fondly of his grandchildren.

"He was one of the good guys in the game," Guadagno said. "he was a real gentleman."

GRAFFANINO STILL SLUMPING: With Florida left-hander Jesus Sanchez on the mound Friday night, second baseman Tony Graffanino was in the lineup and trying to snap out of a horrible slump. He was 2-for-his-last-26 and had just four hits in his last 47 at-bats.

Graffanino started with only five hits in his first 31 at-bats (.161) this season, then hit .314 in his next 51 at-bats before his current slide has dropped his average to .203.



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