ATLANTA -- Figuring the timing was better now than in the heat of a September pennant race, catcher Eddie Perez dropped his appeal and began serving his four-game suspension Saturday.
Perez, suspended for his role in a brawl with the Phillies on July 30, will be eligible to play again Wednesday night against the Astros.
"It's better to do it now then later," he said. "I don't think it's going to get (shorter) than four games. Let's do it and get it over with."
Perez's suspension had a domino effect inside the clubhouse. First baseman Randall Simon, hitting .314, was sent to Class AAA Richmond and catcher Pascual Matos was recalled for the third time this season to backup catcher Greg Myers.
According to baseball's rules, Simon must stay down for 10 days and he will join the team in Colorado on Aug. 16. When Perez's suspension ends Matos will return to Richmond and the Braves will recall a hitter from Richmond for six days until Simon returns.
"I won't take it like it's something they want to do," Simon said. "I understand. They need me, but things happen sometimes."
Manager Bobby Cox is uncertain who will be recalled from Richmond as an extra hitter, but names being discussed are third baseman Howard Battle (.292, 20 HR, 65 RBI), first baseman/outfielder Brad Tyler (.290, 21 HR, 69 RBI), first baseman/catcher Toby Rumfield (.269, 12 HR, 47 RBI) and infielder Marty Malloy (.307, 7 HR, 30 RBI).
Second baseman Keith Lockhart lasted only two hitters into Saturday's game before he headed for the hospital. He was run over at first base by F.P. Santangelo in the first inning and received a cut in his lower lip that required a couple of stitches. X-rays of his jaw were negative and he went home.
Bret Boone took over for Lockhart and was 2-for-5 with one RBI.
TRYING TOO HARD:
In 50 games since June 9, Boone is hitting .207, tumbling his average to .245 and leaving him feeling frustrated and angry. Is the second baseman pressing because he wants to sign a new deal with the Braves and stay in Atlanta?
"It probably has something to do with it," he admitted.
Boone is aggravated because he follows every good game with a bad game, every solid at-bat with a poor one. The 14-game hitting streak he rode in May is a distant memory.
"There's no consistency and it's driving me nuts," he said. "I find myself sitting and thinking about how I'm underachieving and I'm not happy with it."
Boone has certainly seen more than his share of highs and lows during his six years in the big leagues. He's hit .223 and .320. He's hit 24 homers and he's hit seven. He's driven in 95 runs and he's had 46 RBI. If there's any consistency to Boone it's his inconsistency.
"I know what the answer is, I've done this before," he said. "The answer is either sit and feel sorry for yourself or have a positive attitude until it clicks. Personally, I hate what's going on and there's only one guy who can control it and that's me."
Chipper Jones isn't the club's fastest runner, but he's among the smartest. He has stolen 12 bases in 15 attempts, eight shy of matching his career-high set in 1997, by picking his spots to run.
"I'm not a burner where I can go out and try stealing 40 or 50 times," he said. "I don't think I'd be successful 80-90 percent of the time if I don't pick my spots."
Odalis Perez returned to the clubhouse Saturday two days after undergoing "Tommy John" surgery in which doctors removed a tendon from his left wrist and transplanted it in his left elbow.
"They say they fixed it very well and everything is going to be good," he said. "I don't think it's going to be necessary to be out for a complete year."
Andruw Jones is one of only four players who have started every game this season. The others: Johnny Damon (Royals), Carlos Delgado (Blue Jays) and Sammy Sosa (Cubs). ... In the past 26 years only two Braves right fielders have driven in more runs (David Justice, 120 in '93 and Dale Murphy, 105 in '87) than Brian Jordan's total of 90 RBI. He needs 31 RBI in the final 50 games to set a record for Atlanta right fielders.
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