Originally created 05/15/00

Braves notes: Rookie delivers in pinch



PHILADELPHIA -- Steve Sisco knows about perseverance.

Boy, does he ever.

After eight-plus years in the minors, at such stops as Appleton, Wichita, Rockford and Omaha, he's finally in the major leagues for the first time at age 30.

The Braves, for one, are very glad he's here.

After waiting through a three-hour rain delay, Sisco won Saturday night's game with a pinch-hit 10th-inning homer, a two-run shot off Phillies reliever Scott Aldred, his first major league hit.

"Way to go, Sisco," third baseman Chipper Jones said, slumping in front of his locker after the game. "That's all I've got to say."

Braves bullpen catcher Alan Butts caught the ball in the visitors bullpen in left field and returned it to Sisco after the game.

Sisco, called up from Class AAA Richmond May 5, had congratulatory messages from an assortment of relatives when he returned to the team's downtown hotel. He and his wife, Karena, celebrated quietly while their 19-month-old daughter, Allie, slept.

"It was pretty fun getting back there, because Karena greeted me at the door and she was pretty excited," Sisco said. "I had five or six phone messages, mostly from aunts and uncles."

Sisco, a .293 career hitter in the minors, is getting his first chance in the majors thanks to Reggie Sanders' sprained ankle. With Sanders on the DL, Bobby Cox wanted a right-handed bat for the bench and Sisco got the call.

There's no question Sisco, Richmond's MVP last season after hitting .311 with 18 homers and 76 RBI, can hit. He can also play almost any position, which begs the question, why has it taken him so long to reach the majors?

Well, he's not big (5-foot-10, 190 pounds), doesn't hit for power and two serious injuries left the Royals, who drafted him in the 16th round of the 1992 draft, feeling he was just an insurance policy in case somebody got hurt.

Seven years ago, Sisco suffered a broken neck, back and left arm in a snowmobile accident in Ohio, forcing him to miss half a season. Then he broke his ankle in 1995 and missed another three months.

By the time he made his way back, the Royals had lost interest.

"The Royals kind of ruled me out," he said. "They knew I could fill in, but they never pushed me up through their system. When the Braves called (in 1998), I jumped at the chance."

So, that's Sisco's story and he thanks Karena and his family and friends with sticking with him, even as he contemplated retiring and finding a job.

Returning to the dugout after popping up in a Richmond game about 10 days ago, he said to roving hitting coordinator Franklin Stubbs, "I'm about 10 at-bats away from coaching."

That night, the Braves called him up.

"A few years ago, (coaching) really did cross my mind," Sisco said. "All my family and friends had nothing but admiration and good things to say about my perseverance. Maybe that's why I stuck it out. Karena has been fantastic. Plugging away in the minor leagues is hard enough, but for a wife, it's really hard. She could be working on her career by now, but she's following my dream."

IN CONTROL:

Mike Remlinger continues to dominate hitters, his two scoreless innings Saturday night boosting his shutout streak to 16 1/3 innings covering 15 appearances. He showed the Phils three pitches and threw them all for strikes in two perfect innings.

The days of the left-hander hopping back and forth between the bullpen and rotation are gone.

"I really feel I'm better as a reliever, I'm better-suited for it," he said. "I knew I was going out there (after the rain delay) and I hated the waiting. I was pacing around the clubhouse and I was half-nervous I was going to screw it up. To be able to pitch anywhere in the game, that's nice. I'm really enjoying it."

MINOR ADJUSTMENT:

Andres Galarraga made an adjustment with his hands two days ago in batting practice and has felt comfortable at the plate for the first time in two weeks. He doubled in the tying run in the ninth Friday night, then hit a second-inning homer against Andy Ashby Saturday night.

"I started feeling much better," he said. "I figured out something. My hands were slow and I was hitting the ball behind, instead of out front. (The double) helped me a lot. That was good for me and good for the team."