Originally created 04/07/01

Braves notebook



ATLANTA - Bobby Cox retooled the lineup Friday night to rest a pair of veterans.

He sat down second baseman Quilvio Veras and right fielder Brian Jordan, replacing them with Keith Lockhart and Dave Martinez, and teamed catcher Paul Bako with Greg Maddux.

Cox explained he plans to give Veras an occasional day off to rest his right knee, while Jordan needed a break after bruising his ribs making a diving catch in Thursday's game.

"I just figured after that catch, two operations (on Jordan's shoulders) and no sleep, it's a good idea," Cox said. "And, I've got to give Veras a day off to let his knee regroup a little bit."

Giving Veras a break was well-timed. The second baseman is hitting .059, his only hit a bases-loaded double on opening day, though his four RBI are second on the team to Rafael Furcal's five. Veras also got off to a slow start last season, but from April 18-May 1 he hit in 12 straight games at a .426 clip.

"How can a guy be hitting .059 and have four RBI?" he joked. "It's normal for me to have a good spring, then a bad first two weeks, and come back and be OK."

Jordan has made a pair of spectacular diving catches in the first four games, which has caused everyone in the Braves dugout to hold their breaths, fearing Jordan will aggravate his surgically-repaired shoulders.

"I'm taking the brunt on my chest and keeping my shoulders out of the way," Jordan said. "Having two shoulder surgeries, there's a fear factor, but making two catches already, the fear factor is gone. I survived them."

Just as he did in the second half last season, Bako will serve as Maddux's catcher. The pair worked well together last year, Maddux posting a 9-6 record and 2.62 ERA following the All-Star break, and Bako says he enjoys working with a masterful pitcher.

"Besides having great command of his pitches, he's got a heck of a brain in pitching and picking a hitter apart," Bako said. "I really enjoy it. I thought we worked well together and we hit it off pretty quickly."

TOUGH DECISION:

Cox will decide today if Odalis Perez will make his next scheduled start or shift to the bullpen because of Tuesday's off day. Perez, who lasted just four innings in Thursday's 7-1 loss to the Mets, is scheduled to go Wednesday against the Mets at Shea Stadium. But, Cox indicated Friday Perez might be skipped to keep the top four starters working on their usual rest.

"Everybody wants to pitch in turn," Cox said. "They don't want the extra rest."

If Perez is skipped, Maddux would go Wednesday night and John Burkett, tonight's starter, would work Thursday night's finale.

HONEST MISTAKE:

Chipper Jones is the third, not the second, third baseman in major league history to drive in 100 runs in five straight seasons. It was reported last year, and then in this year's Braves media guide, that Jones and Pie Traynor were the only third baseman accomplish the feat. But further research has shown that Al Rosen did it from 1950-54, though he played some games at first base during that stretch.

If Jones does it in a sixth straight season, he'll own the record outright.

"Obviously, I keep it in perspective," he said. "My job every year is to go out and drive in 100 runs. I try to stay away from numerical goals, but the one number I pay attention to is run production. When you think of all the great third basemen to have played the game, to do something that none of them ever did is kind of cool.

"The record doesn't consume me. I'll try and do my job and at the end of the year my RBI should be there."