Originally created 10/03/00

Braves notebook



ST. LOUIS -- On the Cardinals bench, Mark McGwire.

On the Braves bench, Steve Sisco?

"That's quite a weapon to have sitting over there," Braves manager Bobby Coxacknowledged grudgingly of baseball's all-time single-season home run king.

When Cox announced his 25-man roster for the Division Series, he included a pair of players -- Sisco and Tim Unroe -- who spent most of the season at Class AAA Richmond. Also, included as a backup outfielder and pinch runner, was George Lombard, who played with the team earlier this season.

Cox chose to keep John Burkett on the pitching staff and drop reliever Scott Kamieniecki, a decision he termed "easy."

"With two off-days, we got plenty (of pitching), I hope," he said.

Sisco, Unroe and Lombard probably won't see much action. With Bobby Bonilla, Wally Joyner, B.J. Surhoff and Walt Weiss on the bench, the Richmond trio is here in case of an emergency.

"I had no expectations coming in, so this is great," Unroe said.

Cox chose to keep Unroe, rather than shortstop Mark DeRosa, because of the power factor. Unroe has some, plus more experience, than DeRosa. ...

Andy Ashby or Kevin Millwood? Cox would not reveal his choice of a starter for Game 3, though Millwood's 2 1/3 innings of shutout relief in Sunday's loss indicate he'll get the nod.

On the other side, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa surprised observers by choosing rookie Rick Ankiel (11-7, 3.50 ERA) to pitch this afternoon's Game 1, rather than scheduled starter Darryl Kile.

LaRussa's reasoning? He wants Kile, a 20-game winner, to go in Game 2 and be able to work a possible Game 5 on short rest, while Ankiel will go in Game 4.

LaRussa sent Kile to Monday's press conference, knowing the right-hander would not pitch today, while Ankiel departed without speaking to the assembled media. ...

McGwire, who hasn't played first base since July 6 because of patella tendinitis in his right knee, will be limited to a pinch-hitting role, as Surhoff is for the Braves.

"I grew up watching the best, (the Dodgers') Manny Mota," McGwire said. "I feel fine, but I'm not a pinch hitter. I'm used to getting four or five at-bats a game. My four or five at-bats are stuck in one at-bat.

"I've give it a shot. It's just another thing I can add to my resume."

McGwire was 3 for 10 with one home run and two RBI as a pinch hitter this season. ...

Chipper Jones was in such a foul mood after his ninth-inning error Sunday afternoon that he didn't come out of the players' lounge and talk with reporters. His mood had lightened enough Monday for him to poke fun at himself, though the error still weighed heavily on his mind.

"All my teammates are mad at me for getting them out of bed early this morning," he said.

Jones' 25 errors match his 1995 career-high and are eight more than he committed last season. He had not been charged with more than 17 errors since 1995, his rookie season.

"I'm not upset at making an error," he said. "I'm upset at how I made the error. If I get in front of the ball or knock it down, I've still got a chance.

"You take for granted you're going to get a true hop, and if I do, it's an easy out at second." ...

The last time the Cardinals were in the postseason, Brian Jordan was in a St. Louis uniform. The year was 1996 and the opponent was the Braves.

Now, Jordan is wearing at Atlanta uniform, but he knows how St. Louis is going to react to another playoff series.

"These are true baseball fans, as opposed to those who come out just to rag on the players," he said.

Jordan' Cardinals held a 3-1 lead in the '96 series before the Braves stormed back with three straight wins, clobbering the Cardinals by scores of 14-0, 3-1 and 15-0, to advance to the World Series.

"By playing here again, it's a homecoming, of sorts," he said. "But, I'm sure I'm going to get booed." ...

Reggie Sanders has some equally painful playoff memories. The right fielder played in the 1995 NLCS with the Reds and hit .125 against the Braves, striking out 10 times in 16 at-bats. This is his first postseason since then, and he's not dwelling on the past.

"It's completely erased from my memory," he said of the '95 NLCS. "I don't even want to talk about it."

Sanders heads into this series riding a nine-game hitting streak. He's been one of the club's hottest hitters, batting .345 in the final month of the season.

Reach Bill Zack at bzack30143@aol.com