Originally created 06/05/99

Braves notebook: Klesko comfortable in DH role



BOSTON -- Ryan Klesko doesn't have much experience as a DH, but he's made good use of the little time he's spent in that role.

Remember, it was Klesko who set a World Series record in 1995 with home runs in three consecutive games, all coming at Cleveland's Jacobs Field, as the designated hitter.

So, when manager Bobby Cox penciled him into the lineup as the DH in Friday night's interleague opener with the Red Sox, Klesko shrugged.

"Done it before, no big deal," he said. "It's like a semi-day off. You hit and that's it."

As the DH in '95, Klesko was 5-for-10 with four RBI, but he had never served in that role during the regular season until Friday.

"You stretch a lot and try and keep yourself going," he said. "You try and not get too comfortable on the bench."

Cox wanted Klesko in the lineup, no matter if he played first base, left field or batted as the DH. He's swung the club's hottest bat against the Red Sox during the last two years, hitting .571 with two homers and seven RBI.

Cox left a hole in the lineup, waiting to see if shortstop Walt Weiss could play after missing the last seven games with a sore quadriceps. Weiss, who ran at about 75 percent Wednesday and said he still felt some soreness, indicated he would play.

"Psychologically, it will probably be something I have to think about every time I run," he said. "I'll be a little nervous taking off at full-speed until I get confident it's going to be fine."

WELCOME BACK:

It was a homecoming, of sorts, for Kevin McGlinchy, Tom Glavine and Mike Remlinger, who grew up in towns around Boston and had plenty of family and friends on hand at Fenway.

McGlinchy, who spent Thursday night at his parents home in Malden and ate lunch at his favorite sub shop -- "a steak bomb with a little salami and hot peppers" -- left 18 tickets, but expected about 200 Malden supporters to be scattered throughout the stadium.

"I've seen a lot of people and it's been pretty welcoming and pretty overwhelming," he said. "It feels good to represent your hometown. Some guys didn't get a chance to see me pitch in high school, much less here."

McGlinchy figures he saw between 30-50 Red Sox games as a youngster, had a picture taken with Roger Clemens when he was in the ninth grade, kept a Wade Boggs poster tacked to his bedroom wall and had a tryout with the Red Sox while he was still in high school. But on draft day in 1995, instead of the Red Sox, it was the Braves who selected him in the fifth round.

"It's always fun to play for your hometown team," McGlinchy said, "but it would be a lot tougher to play here."

Glavine, who grew up just down the road in Billerica, blamed a large family -- "aunts and uncles and cousins and their kids" -- for having to come up with 80 tickets for Friday's game. The demand lessens somewhat for the weekend games, he needed no more than 50 or 60 tickets, leaving him indebted to teammates for making available their allotment of six tickets each.

"It's nice, but it can be a pain in the neck," Glavine admitted. "I was on the phone with my sister, back and forth, for the last few days trying to figure out who's coming. You know somebody will be mad, but aside from all that, it will be fun."

Remlinger, who grew up about an hour away in Plymouth and attended Dartmouth College, remembered playing at Fenway during a college all-star game in 1986. But, having been in the big leagues for the last four years, he didn't get the same kick out of playing at Fenway as he did the first time.

"It's not the same thrill you think it is as a kid," he said. "It's good to have that because that's what fans are all about."

Bill Zack covers the Braves for The Augusta Chronicle. He is based in Atlanta and can be reached at bzack30143@aol.com