Originally created 05/23/01

Braves notebook

MIAMI -- Andruw Jones can't really explain the sudden return of hispower, but he's enjoying the results.

In a surge reminiscent of Barry Bonds' home run flurry lastweekend, Jones entered Tuesday night's game against the Marlins withfive home runs in his last five games, and his 12 home runs is tiedwith Chipper Jones for the team lead.

"It just comes," he said. "You go without a home run for two orthree weeks and it's time to hit home runs."

It's not as easy as it sounds. Jones doesn't turn his power off andon like a water faucet. His surge is a product of a better approach atthe plate, particularly a refusal to chase breaking pitches off theoutside corner, which was his undoing during a 15-game homerlessdrought from April 29-May 16.

"I'm going out with a plan and sticking with it," he said. "I'mgoing up there looking for pitches away. Before I was looking for mypitch and never getting it, and getting all those calls (against me)away."

Yet, while he's looking for pitches on the outer half of the plate,Jones has been able to adjust to fastballs on the inner half. Both hishome runs in Monday's 5-3 win were off fastballs in, and his single wason a good slider from Marlins loser Matt Clement.

"It's just reaction and quickness," Jones said. "All the homeruns I've hit in the last three or four games were fastballs. I knowthe scouting report on me says don't throw him fastballs, but you can'ttell a pitcher not to throw fastballs.

"I'm going to look away and if he throws in, I'm going to use myinstincts. They're not really coming in much. If they do, it's usuallyway in or it's a mistake over the plate."

Those are the pitches Jones has been losing lately.

B.J. Surhoff said Tuesday his sore lower back is continuing toimprove, though he's uncertain when he will return to the lineup. "I'm encouraged," he said.

Surhoff has arrived at the stadium early every day to receivetreatment from trainers, but he was still moving somewhat gingerly.Manager Bobby Cox indicated Monday he would review Surhoff's conditionand make a decision whether to place him on the 15-day DL, but nothingwas done Tuesday.

The Braves are likely to wait until they return home Friday to makea decision on Surhoff and drop a reliever, either Matt Whiteside orChris Seelbach, to create room for an extra hitter on the bench.

Because of Thursday's day off, Odalis Perez won't make anotherstart until Tuesday against the Expos. He will work out of the bullpenfor the next few days, which gives Cox the luxury of resting MikeRemlinger, who's appeared 22 of the team's 45 games, and Jose Cabrera,who worked in four of the six games on the homestand.

Damian Moss, on the disabled list because of circulatory problemsin his left forearm and hand, will resume throwing Friday. He wascleared by doctors to start running Monday and he continued hisworkouts Tuesday.

ECT. After enduring a 1 for 25 nightmare as a pinch hitter lastyear, Keith Lockhart is 5 for 15 off the bench this season. Rico Brogna returned to the lineup Tuesday, but he's stillsearching for his swing. He has just 11 hits in his last 64 at-bats andhis batting average has sunk to .255.

Jason Marquis has allowed only 11 hits in 70 at-bats (.157), but inhis last two appearances he's given up three hits and four runs in 21/3 innings.

Quilvio Veras headed into Tuesday's game riding a modest five-gamehitting streak and is 10 for 28 (.357) since taking over as the leadoffhitter May 11.

Reach Bill Zack at bzack30143@aol.com.


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