DENVER -- A mile up and three hours before game time, Braves pitching coach Leo Mazzone was seated in the visitors dugout Monday afternoon wondering what his staff's ERA will be following four days at Coors Field.
"I could die early because of this joint," he said. "Basically you hold your breath on every pitch."
Not surprisingly, the Rockies lead the National League with 653 runs, an average of 5.49 runs per game. That average zooms up to 7.04 per game at Coors, where the Rockies are only a .500 team (28-28), thanks to a pitching staff that's posted a 7.22 ERA at home.
Mazzone admits his attitude changes when he comes to Coors. A well-pitched game might mean giving up seven or eight runs, so he doesn't become upset by multi-run innings, which are more the rule than the exception here.
"Any free-agent pitcher who chooses to come here should have his head examined," Mazzone said. "If you can pull it off here as a pitching coach, that should be an automatic early entry into the Hall of Fame."
SIMON TO RETURN:
First baseman Randall Simon will rejoin the team today after spending 10 days at Class AAA Richmond. He was sent down to make room for catcher Pascual Matos, recalled when Eddie Perez started his four-game suspension.
Simon has swung a hot bat for Richmond, going 3-for-3 in the first game of a doubleheader Sunday against Norfolk, missing the cycle by a triple.
Third baseman Howard Battle, recalled from Richmond last Wednesday, will return to Richmond to make room for Simon.
Brian Jordan made an adjustment in his stance between his first and second at-bats Sunday night in an attempt to lessen the pain in his right hand. He pulled his hands back and raised them slightly to try and stay on top of the ball. The result? Home runs in his next two at-bats and a significant reduction in the pain.
"I still felt pain, but not as much as my first at-bat," he said. "Bringing my hands back allows them to come through quicker without pain."
The change in his stance brought some quick results, but it hasn't altered his desire to determine what's wrong with his hand. He plans to have a CAT scan when he returns to Atlanta and he's braced for bad news.
With two more doubles in Sunday's victory over the Dodgers, the Braves extended their streak to 41 straight games with at least one double, dating back to July 1. ... Atlanta's defense committed 57 errors in its first 70 games, but has been charged with only 25 errors in its last 49 games.
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