Originally created 04/02/00

Braves notes: Hunter sent to AAA



ATLANTA -- Braves manager Bobby Cox trimmed the team's opening day roster to its league maximum 25 players by assigning infielder Brian Hunter and promising outfield prospect George Lombard to Class AAA Richmond.

"Those decisions are tough every year," Cox said after Saturday's final exhibition game of the season, a 6-3 win over Cleveland.

"It was real tough to send Brian down to Richmond," Cox said. "He helped us win 103 games last year, and he did a good job for us. But he's accepted that responsibility. I guess that's part of the game. Some of these decisions came down to the final two days."

The Braves placed John Smoltz, who will miss the remainder of the season after having Tommy John surgery on his right elbow earlier this month, on the disabled list. Pitchers Odalis Perez, David Cortes and Rudy Seanez also went on the DL.

Other roster moves included the Braves' purchasing the contracts of infielder Rafael Furcal, outfielders Bobby Bonilla and Trenidad Hubbard and pitcher Greg McMichael.

Pitcher Steve Avery will continue his rehab assignment with the club while the team optioned pitcher Ismael Villegas, catchers Toby Rumfield and Jeff Horn and infielder Steve Sisco to Richmond.

Meanwhile, pitcher Jason Marquis will begin the season at Class AA Greenville.

BURKETT'S BACK:

John Burkett has only been with the Braves for three days, and the 35-year-old right-hander is hoping to resurrect his career in Atlanta.

In his first outing since the Braves signed him on Wednesday, Burkett worked two scoreless innings on Saturday, retiring the side in both the third and fourth innings. Of the six batters he faced, he fanned three.

"Baseball is fun, and I try to have a good time when I'm out there," said Burkett, who owns a lifetime 119-101 record and a 4.31 ERA in 319 games. He had pitched with San Francisco and Texas before Tampa Bay released him earlier this week.

"I don't think about all that pressure when I'm out there (on the mound). I just try to do the best job that I can. That's about all you can do. I just want to help out any way I can," Burkett said.

Braves pitching coach Leo Mazzone said Burkett will begin the season in the bullpen, and he could get a chance to be the No. 5 starter when the team needs one in mid-April.

DIE-HARD FAN:

There wasn't any question as to who Smoltz was pulling for in Saturday night's Final Four contest between Michigan State and Wisconsin.

Smoltz was dressed in green wind suit pants and a Michigan State jacket before Saturday's exhibition game.

Smoltz grew up in Lansing, Mich., just minutes from the campus of Michigan State University, where he attended Waverly High.

WARM WELCOME:

The loudest cheers and the loudest boos came on first-baseman Andres Galarraga's only at bat of the day.

Galarraga, who missed all of last season with lymphoma, was greeted by a standing ovation when his name was announced in the second inning.

However, when Galarraga checked his swing with two strikes, a chorus of boos erupted when first-base umpire Eric Cooper called Galarraga out on strikes.