Originally created 09/06/98

Braves notes: Galarraga returning



NEW YORK -- For three days Andres Galarraga has dressed in his uniform, taken batting practice with his teammates, then retreated to the clubhouse when the game started.

From there he watched on television as the Braves lost all three games. This afternoon, for the first time since he began serving his three-game suspension last Wednesday, Galarraga will be in the lineup.

"It's been kind of uncomfortable," he said. "I can't even go in the dugout. The only positive is doing some weights and getting some rest."

The Braves have certainly missed Galarraga. They are 2-6 in games he has missed this season and in the last three games they scored only seven runs. He may not have made a difference against Houston's Randy Johnson last Wednesday, but he might have been able to contribute against the Mets Friday night and Saturday afternoon.

Backup first baseman Greg Colbrunn was 2-for-10 in his absence and has just two hits in his last 20 at-bats. He briefly snapped out of his slump with the help of the official scorer Saturday, who credited him with a bases-loaded double on a fly that left fielder Tony Phillips misplayed in the sixth.

"To be (in the clubhouse) watching, especially when we're not scoring many runs makes me feel I should be there in that situation," Galarraga said. "(Friday) night could have been a little bit different."

Galarraga has hit in 30 of his last 33 games at a .342 clip with nine homers and 26 RBI, so it will be Cox's pleasure to write his name in the lineup again today.

"Galarraga is really important," Cox said. "It's just too bad Colbrunn is a little cold right now."

KLESKO REPORT: The scouting report on Ryan Klesko is he can't hit left-handers. The numbers bear that out, a .223 career average the most glaring proof. However, with Danny Bautista on the disabled list since Aug. 27, Klesko has been starting against left-handers and been surprisingly successful.

Beginning with Kent Mercker on Aug. 28, Klesko has faced four lefties and is 4-for-10 with a pair of walks, boosting his season average to .234 against them.

"It's been a good week, I'm happy," he said. "But I'm not jumping up and down and saying I should be playing against left-handers all the time."

Klesko has seen so many lefties lately, he says he actually feels more comfortable against them than against right-handers. He's also made an adjustment in his stance and shortened his stride, which has enabled him to make more hard contact at the plate.

"There are a lot of guys in the National League that I can hit hard that are left-handed," he said. "It's like anything else, you've got to keep practicing."

GILES IMPRESSIVE: Marcus Giles is still a few years away from playing for the Braves, but he certainly forced his way into the organization's plans with an outstanding season at Class A Macon. The second baseman, the club's 53rd round selection in the 1996 June draft, was named the South Atlantic League's MVP after setting team records with 37 homers and 108 RBI. He was also third in the league with a .329 average and 166 hits, second with 38 doubles and a .433 on-base percentage and led the league with 111 runs.

"He came out of nowhere," Cox said. "He can hit. From what I understand, (Macon coach) Glenn Hubbard has done just a super job with him at second. If anybody can smooth him out, it's Glenn."

Giles' defense has improved, but it still needs more work. He was charged with 25 errors in 127 games and even taking into account rough fields in the minor leagues, that's still a unusually high total.

Giles won't go to the Instructional League this fall for more work. He's suffering from a bone bruise on his left hand and he'll go home to recover and prepare for spring training.

LOMBARD PINCH HITS: George Lombard's name appeared in Friday's box score, but there's still a zero next to his at-bat total. The young outfielder, recalled from Class AA Greenville Tuesday, entered the game as a pinch hitter for Eddie Perez in the eighth inning and was out on a fielder's choice.

"I guess I'm in the record books now," he said. "I've been teasing Eddie, telling him he's got to get on and do his part of the deal."

Lombard, a native of Atlanta and a 1994 graduate of the city's Lovett School, was happy to get into his first game away from home. His sister Rosemary, an NYU communications major, was on hand Friday and his brother Matt, a student at George Washington law school, is expected at Monday's game.

"I was excited," Lombard said. "But I think it's more relaxing on the road."