Originally created 05/08/02

Braves notebook



ATLANTA - B.J. Surhoff was in a reflective mood Tuesday as he talked about his future, two weeks after his season-ending knee injury.

Retirement, however, is not an option, he said.

"Just as long as one of 30 teams offer me a contract, I plan on playing," Surhoff said. "I have a lot more I want to do."

Shortly after the Atlanta Braves outfielder suffered the injury while chasing Gregg Zaun's triple in the ninth inning of the Braves' 6-3 loss to Houston on April 27, word circulated that the 36-year-old veteran might consider calling it a career.

The rumor, Surhoff said, was just that.

"The first thing that went through my head as I was laying on the ground, was that there was no way this was going to be how I ended my career," he said. "If I had anything to say about, this wasn't how I was going to go out."

Instead, Surhoff will shift focus to his upcoming surgery to repair the torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. Surhoff said the procedure will take place sometime near the end of next week at John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.

According to team doctors, Surhoff's rehabilitation is expected to last at least six months.

"If the doctors go in, and discover it's a full tear, it's going to be at least that long," Surhoff said. "I'm just going to do what whatever I need to do to get back."

Whether that will be with the Braves remains to be seen.

Surhoff is in the final year of his current contract with Atlanta, and will be a free agent at the end of the year.

"I guess the most frustrating thing about this is I was starting to play well before this happened," said Surhoff, who was hitting .293 with nine RBI when the injury occurred. "I really felt I was beginning to contribute to this team. It hurts not being able to play."

Surhoff said he will remain with the team through its current six-game home stand.

"Bobby (Cox) called me one day last weekend to see how I was doing; oddly enough it was 30 minutes before the game. It kind of surprised me," Surhoff said. "But it meant a lot, both emotionally and mentally. It was important for me to hear what he had to say."

JORDAN RETURNS: Ex-Brave Brian Jordan was so excited to be coming back to Atlanta for this week's three-game set, that he caught a red-eye flight back into town after the Los Angeles Dodgers' Sunday finale against the Chicago Cubs.

"It's good to be back," said Jordan. "I got back into town just in time to take my daughter to school. It's just fun to be home."

Even if it is as a member of the visiting team.

"It's different," Jordan said. "Now, I'm the enemy; the Braves are my opponent. I've got to out there and try to win."

Jordan, who along with pitcher Odalis Perez was part of the trade that brought Gary Sheffield to Atlanta, entered play batting .248 with three homers and 13 RBI.

PEREZ ANXIOUS: Speaking of Perez, the young left-hander takes the mound against his former team tonight when he faces Kevin Millwood.

"It's exciting; it's going to be fun," said Perez, who is 3-1 with a 1.75 ERA. "Obviously, I know everybody over there, but that makes it all the tougher."

Before Tuesday's game, Perez was all smiles as he joked around with Braves catcher Javy Lopez, shortstop Rafael Furcal and Chipper Jones around the Braves batting cage.

"We're laughing now, but (tonight) it's business," Perez said. "I want to beat them just like they want to beat me."

Along with Japan's Kazuhisa Ishii, Perez has been one of several pitching surprises for the Dodgers.

Two weeks ago against Chicago, Perez took a perfect game into the seventh inning against the Cubs before giving up an infield hit to Atlanta native Corey Patterson. It was the only hit he allowed.

AROUND THE DIAMOND: Sheffield broke out of a 2-for-35 drought Sunday against St. Louis with a 3-for-5 performance. "I'm just feeling healthy," said Sheffield, who recently missed a week with a sprained left wrist. "I'm just more comfortable at the plate." ... During their recent road trip, Atlanta's bullpen yielded only three earned runs in 16 1/3 innings (1.65 ERA) which helped the team win four games despite only hitting .147 with runners in scoring position (5-for-34).