Originally created 09/23/99

Braves notebook: Rocker shows fiery side



ATLANTA -- The adrenaline was pumping Tuesday night and the emotion was evident in closer John Rocker.

He shouted into his glove. He punctuated each of his three strikeouts in the ninth inning with a pumped fist and a shout. At game's end he let go with an undercut that would have rocked George Foreman.

"If I was watching myself on TV I'd probably think I was a punk," he admitted. "I'm conscious (of my mannerisms), but if the other team thinks I'm showing them up, I don't really care. (Manager Bobby Cox and pitching coach Leo Mazzone) have made reference to it, but they told me they'd rather have me be fiery and exciting, then needing a kick in the butt."

Rocker has not looked more dominating this season. Protecting a one-run lead, he mixed 98 m.p.h. fastballs and sliders and struck out Robin Ventura and pinch hitters Shawon Dunston and Benny Agbayani. Acknowledging the Mets bring out the best in him, he said, "If I look back over the year, by far the worst outings I've had are against the lower-level teams. It tends to affect everyone. We don't seem to play as well against the Marlins and Expos." ...

Brian Jordan was back in the lineup Wednesday night, but was bumped out of his cleanup hole and hit No. 5 for the first time this season.

"It makes no difference to me," he said. "As long as I contribute to a win, that's all that matters. I'll earn my way back up."

Cox indicated he shifted Jordan down a spot because he was uncertain how his sore right hand would react. But clearly the move was made to relieve any pressure Jordan is feeling to produce offensively.

After studying video of his stance in 1994-95, Jordan made a change, moving his front foot closer to the plate. He used it during an eighth-inning at-bat Tuesday and drew a walk.

"I felt comfortable," he said. "I felt like I was aggressive again. I felt ready to hit and I hadn't felt that way in awhile." ...

By the numbers: By picking up his 10th win Tuesday night, Mike Remlinger became the first Braves reliever since Cecil Upshaw (11-6) in 1971 to reach double-digit wins. ...

With two RBI Tuesday, Chipper Jones became the first player in major league history to hit .300, score 100 runs, hit 40 doubles and 40 homers, drive in 100 runs, draw 100 walks and steal 20 bases.

"As a player, I shoot for no weaknesses," he said. "I want all facets of my game to be strong. I take pride in being a guy who can do all those things. The only thing missing is being in the running for a Gold Glove one of these years." ...

After 35 years behind the microphone, broadcaster Ernie Johnson called it a career following Wednesday night's Fox Sports South's telecast of the Braves-Mets game.

"You know what I'll miss?" said Johnson, who pitched for the Milwaukee Braves and joined the team's broadcast team in 1962. "I'll miss the camaraderie of the clubhouse, associating with the players, broadcasters and media. It's kind of like a family."

Johnson said he planned to sign off the broadcast with a heartfelt thank-you.

"I'll thank people, the fans especially, because they've been awful good to me," he said. "Then I'll thank Turner Broadcasting, the Braves and Fox. This is the last one, for sure."