PITTSBURGH -- Chipper Jones leads the early All-Star voting forthird baseman, but fans are obviously casting their ballots based onhis past numbers, and not what he did in May.
The four-time All-Star had one of his worst-ever months, hitting.188 with seven home runs and 14 RBI, nine fewer than he had in April.Those aren't the only numbers that plunged from the opening month. Hehad 32 hits in April, but half as many in May. He struck out just ninetimes in the first month, but whiffed 20 times in May.
"I can't explain it. I've been through enough of these streaks toknow it's going to end sometime," said Jones, who is mired in a 4 for35 skid. "You just try and push through and get it over with as fastas you can."
Asked to explain how he hit .356 in April, and fell below .200 thenext month, Jones shrugged and said, "May is always my worst month.You're gung-ho to get the season started in the first month, then thesecond month gets here and the newness of the season wears off and it'skind of a lull. Then June gets here and you're streaking for theAll-Star break and everything is all right again." ...
Mark DeRosa likes the fact he was called up based on the numbers heposted at Class AAA Richmond, rather than as a replacement for aninjured player. The infielder, who was playing third at Richmond, butis a natural shortstop, was recalled because he was swinging the team'shottest bat.
DeRosa's 16-game hitting streak ended last week, but he led theR-Braves with a .354 average in May, was ranked second in theInternational League with 18 doubles, and was batting .296 overall with17 RBI in 49 games.
`I felt good at the plate the whole two months," said DeRosa, whojoined the team Thursday, while reliever Chris Seelbach returned toRichmond. "Sometimes you have a tendency to want to tinker and change(at the plate), but I stayed with what I worked on in springtraining."
Manager Bobby Cox said he plans to get DeRosa some playing time,though with off-days Thursday and Monday, shortstop Rafael Furcal, whohas started all 53 games, should be well-rested and reluctant to take aseat on the bench.
"I've been wanting to give Raffy a breather every now and then,"Cox said. ...
Since a disastrous debut, when he allowed home runs on consecutivepitches to the Diamondbacks and had four runs tagged next to his name,Matt Whiteside has pitched effectively. In eight innings since, he'sallowed just two earned runs in eight innings, so when a decision wasto be made on which reliever would go, it was Seelbach, not Whiteside,who departed.
"I've obviously thrown better the last two or three weeks, sothose (decisions) usually take care of themselves," he said.
When Whiteside has his hard sinker working, he's effective. Butwhen he misses location with it, it usually ends up as a souvenir.
"I had a week there where I was off a little bit," he said. "ButI got it straightened out and hopefully it will be like that the restof the year." ...
In bed with flu-like symptoms Thursday, Javy Lopez stayed behind in Atlanta while the team flew here Thursday night. He was improved Friday and took a commercial flight Friday afternoon, but when Cox asked if he could play, Lopez said no. Paul Bako replaced him in the lineup.
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