Originally created 08/01/98

Braves notes: Pride stunned by assignment



ATLANTA -- Curtis Pride wore a stunned expression Friday afternoon after being told by manager Bobby Cox that he was being sent to Class AAA Richmond to make room for first baseman Greg Colbrunn on the roster.

"I'm shocked," Pride said. "I didn't know I had an option left. I don't have any idea what's going to happen. Right now I'm just going to go down and keep playing hard."

The Braves chose to send out Pride, rather than outfielder Danny Bautista, because Bautista is out of options and would likely have become a free agent if the club had designated him for assignment. Cox said he was uncertain whether Pride will be recalled by Aug. 31, making him eligible for the postseason.

"I told him I don't know," Cox said. "We always carry 10 pitchers (in the postseason) and it creates a spot for him, but I don't know if it will be him. For sure he'll be up Sept. 1."

Colbrunn was told he'd been traded to the Braves for the second time in 11 months as the Rockies were preparing to board a flight to Chicago Thursday night. His addition greatly strengthens the bench and gives the club a backup first baseman and emergency catcher.

The Braves could have saved themselves a pair of minor league pitchers if they had signed Colbrunn last winter, but instead he signed a $600,000 minor league contract with the Rockies. That means in less than a year the Braves have traded a pair of pitchers (David Cortes and Mike Porzio) and a minor league outfielder (Marc Lewis) for Colbrunn and are responsible for $200,000 of his salary this year.

"It's strange how things work out," Colbrunn said. "Atlanta is one of the best places to play because you're pretty much going to the postseason and as a player the postseason is what it's all about."

Colbrunn wasn't inclined to re-sign with the Braves last winter, even if they had matched Colorado's offer, which they didn't, because he wanted more playing time. As it turned out, Todd Helton emerged as the first baseman in Denver and Colbrunn filled a backup role.

"I thought maybe there I would have a chance for more at-bats," Colbrunn said. "But I was like an insurance policy for them. It would be nice to find more playing time (somewhere). You don't ever want to say you're a role player because then you get used to it."

While Colbrunn would prefer to be a regular, he's built a reputation over the last two years as a solid backup and an excellent pinch hitter. He was 3-for-4 off the bench for the Braves in the postseason last year and his nine pinch hits for the Rockies this season make him Atlanta's club leader and his six pinch-hit RBI trail Gerald Williams' team-leading total by one.

WOHLERS, COX MEET: Mark Wohlers met with Cox Friday afternoon and while he doesn't want to return to Richmond, he may agree to go on the disabled list. That would allow him to work out his problems, while allowing the club to call up a reliever to replace him in the bullpen.

There is virtually no other recourse for the Braves. They could release him, but general manager John Schuerholz says there's no chance of that happening. Players with five or more years of service time can't be sent down without their permission according to baseball's Basic Agreement, leaving the team with no option except the disabled list.

"We can't gnash our teeth (about the Basic Agreement)," Schuerholz said. "That's just the reality of what it is. We hope he gets better and we hope this isn't an issue in a month."

If Wohlers is still on the roster on Aug. 31, the club would be faced with a big decision. Unless Wohlers makes a miraculous recovery and regains command of his pitches, there's no chance he'll be included on the postseason roster. That means he'd have to be moved off the 25-man roster by the end of the month and the only way to do that is place him on the disabled list.

SCHUERHOLZ DEALS: Schuerholz spent most of Friday on the phone working on two deals, but as the midnight trading deadline approached he acknowledged there was little chance he'd make a trade.

"At this moment I wouldn't anticipate a deal being made," he said. "The way things unfolded I thought for awhile we might do something, a couple of things actually, but as is the nature of this process, it turned."

Schuerholz attempted to complete a deal for a left-handed reliever, but other clubs insisted on receiving one of three minor league prospects in return -- Class AA Greenville pitchers Bruce Chen or Odaliz Perez or outfielder George Lombard -- and he refused to part with them.

"I've never called anybody untouchable, but they're three young guys we regard very highly and so does everyone else in baseball," Schuerholz said.

WEISS RETURNS: Shortstop Walt Weiss returned to the lineup Friday after missing 13 of the last 14 games to rest his sore left quadriceps. He tested his leg by running at about 75 percent and says he felt no pain. Now the question is how long it will take him to regain his timing at the plate.

"It's the best it's felt in two months," he said. "Now it's just a timing thing and I don't think it will take all that long."