Originally created 08/29/00

Braves notebook: Galarraga appeals 3-game suspension



ATLANTA -- When it rains, it pours, and the Braves were caught in a deluge Monday.

As expected, first baseman Andres Galarraga was suspended three games and fined $1,500 for charging the mound in last Tuesday's game against the Rockies. He immediately appealed and will continue playing. No date has been set for a hearing.

Then, like the Braves needed more bad news, pitcher Kevin Millwood broke his nose during an afternoon bunting drill and will likely miss Thursday's scheduled start.

"That's the way his year has gone," manager Bobby Cox said. "He's had no luck."

Millwood was working in the indoor cage with third base coach Ned Yost on slash bunting when he fouled a pitch off the plate. It bounced up and caught him in the nose. It's not the first time Millwood, who has a habit of leaning too far over the plate, has been hit in the face during a bunting drill.

"We've been working on him keeping his head back," Yost said. "Now, maybe he's learned."

Millwood went to Piedmont Hospital, where his nose was set and placed in a brace. If he can't make Thursday's start, Cox plans to either go with John Burkett on three days rest or give Terry Mulholland a spot start.

News of his suspension didn't catch Galarraga by surprise, but he said Rockies pitcher John Wasdin, who cursed him and called him out, left him no alternative but to charge the mound.

"(Otherwise) I look stupid in front of everybody," Galarraga said.

Frank Robinson, baseball's vice-president of discipline, said Galarraga was suspended for "charging the mound, fighting and provoking a bench-clearing incident." Wasdin and Rockies manager Buddy Bell were suspended two games each and fined.

"For what happened, I think three days is too much," Galarraga said. "I've been in that situation too many times. I didn't say anything to (Wasdin). I have to go out there because of the way it happened this time."

Galarraga appealed, but he indicated he would probably drop the appeal after rosters expand Friday. Wally Joyner will take over at first base during Galarraga's suspension and the Braves will use a player from Class AAA Richmond, probably Wes Helms, as the backup first baseman until Galarraga is eligible to play again.

RELIEF HEAVY:

Cox indicated Monday he probably will keep seven relievers and won't recall a position player this week. Gabe Molina joined the team last week as protection against Cox blowing out the bullpen in Denver. Infielder Steve Sisco returned to Richmond and he will probably be back when rosters expand.

"I like to have some (pitching) protection this time of year," Cox said.

AVERY UPDATE:

Steve Avery visited Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala., on Monday and was told to stop throwing for two weeks. Although an MRI and X-rays showed no damage to his left shoulder, he continues to be plagued by inflammation and he will start a strengthening and rehab program immediately.

"It's kind of what I expected him to say because it doesn't feel like anything severe," Avery said. "It's just another obstacle."

The latest examination ends Avery's hopes of pitching for the Braves this season. Attempting a comeback from last year's shoulder surgery, he pitched at four minor league levels this season, but couldn't regain the velocity and consistency he's shown in the past.

Avery plans to start throwing again in two weeks and wants to return to the Braves next season.

"I could go to a lot of places, but (the Braves) have been really good to me," he said. "They could have released me, so I feel like I'd like to come back and do something for the organization."

JONES RETURNS:

Center fielder Andruw Jones didn't enjoy sitting on the bench Sunday, the first game he's missed in almost two years, but he said the rest did his sore legs some good.

"I needed it," said Jones, who was the only major league player to play every inning this season. "I feel good today, that's the main reason we did it."

ATTENDANCE FIGURES:

The Braves are on pace to draw 3.3 million fans to Turner Field this season, the fourth-highest attendance in franchise history. The club is averaging 40,625 per game, which ranks among the National League's top five, and if attendance surges during a tight September pennant race, the Braves could surpass 3.4 million fans.

But, the team will finish short of its all-time attendance record of 3,884,720, set in 1993.