Originally created 09/15/99

Braves notebook: Chipper made tough play look easy



SAN DIEGO -- It wasn't exactly Brooks Robinson in the 1970 World Series, but the play third baseman Chipper Jones made on Phil Nevin's fifth-inning grounder Monday night was one of his best.

He backhanded the ball, fell down and from his backside he threw it on one bounce to first baseman Ryan Klesko, easily beating Nevin coming down the line. It reminded Padres fans of some of the plays Ken Caminiti made here over the years and drew high praise from manager Bobby Cox.

"That's one of the better plays of the season," he said. "That's as good an infield play as I've seen. You make a nice play like that and it picks everybody up."

Jones ranks the play he made on Andres Galarraga in Game 1 of the 1995 Division Series against the Rockies, when he made a diving stop of his smash down the line, as his best, but Monday night's isn't far behind.

"It wasn't done as gracefully as you would like it to be," he said. "I probably shouldn't have even thrown it. I took a chance. You have some leverage sitting on your butt and leaning back. You can get something on your throw."

By the way, after robbing Galarraga of a double in the eighth inning of Game 1, he connected for his second homer of the game in the ninth to lift the Braves to a 5-4 victory. ...

Keith Lockhart checked the lineup on entering the clubhouse Tuesday afternoon and was pleasantly surprised to see his name included. It was just the fifth time since Aug. 7 he'd started at second base and he was happy for the opportunity.

"I felt (anxious) my last start," he admitted. "You feel like you have to prove something to someone so they feel comfortable keeping you in there and giving you another start."

Cox made the change to give Bret Boone a day off from his plate woes (.195 in September) and give Lockhart, who will play a big role as a pinch hitter in the postseason, four at-bats. Lockhart says he's been feeling more comfortable at the plate and in four pinch-hitting at-bats on this trip he has one hit and three walks.

"For me, taking a walk is a plus because it means I've laid off pitches," he said. "(Not playing) gives you a lot of time to step back and evaluate your at-bats." ...

Trying to figure out Boone's season is tougher than solving a trigonometry equation. After hitting .284 with 15 RBI in August, he's fallen back into old habits and not surprisingly, he's struggling at the plate again. His 8-for-41 performance this month has dragged his average down to .249 and he's been dismal on this trip with only two hits in 16 at-bats.

Tracing Boone's season on a graph would show more rises and falls than tracking the Dow Jones average. He hit .288 in April and May, then batted .178 in June and .218 in July, before having a solid August. ...

Klesko had his eyes on a triple after sending a ball into the right field corner in the second inning Monday night, but as he rounded first base he felt his right quadriceps tighten up again and he was forced to settle for a double. The injury has been bothering him for several weeks now and it's probably going to stay with him for the remainder of the season.

"I can go right now at 75-80 percent," he said. "When I turn a base it grabs. It's so tight in there right now."

Trainers have been treating it with stimulation and heat and Klesko has been receiving regular massages. He slaps an ice bag on it after every game and while it hasn't worsened, it also hasn't gotten much better.

"I'm used to it," he said. "It's not like I'm pulling myself out (of the lineup). If I run straight it isn't all that bad, but when I put weight on one leg to turn a base it grabs."