Originally created 09/01/02

Maddux's future uncertain with new deal

MONTREAL - Players and owners have a new agreement, but Atlanta's Greg Maddux is still in the dark.

The four-time Cy Young winner, who can become a free agent this winter, wonders if the Braves can sign him and fellow free agent Tom Glavine, and still fit under the $117 million payroll threshold.

"If they want me back, we'll see what we can do to make that happen," Maddux said. "If they can't afford us, then one of us will go, or both of us will go. The Braves have given me and my family so much, to expect them to give me more is not right.

"They've already given me two lottery tickets. Am I going to be mad if they don't give me another one? Of course not. If they think they're better off with me leaving, so be it. They're probably right. That's how I look at it. I'll say, thank you very much for 10 great years."

It's doubtful the team can afford both Maddux - who made $13.1 million this year - and Glavine, who is being paid $8.6 million. It's likely the club will have to choose one or the other, and Glavine is the obvious choice to stay because he's been more durable this year. Also, the continued development of pitcher Damian Moss, and Glavine's role in his progress is a factor.

But, like Maddux, Glavine hasn't heard from the team since spring training, when he was told that without an agreement between players and owners, the club couldn't move forward with negotiations.

Glavine wants to stay, but he's willing to test the market.

"At this point, I'm perfectly content to play out the season and see what's out there," he said. "With each passing day, as we get closer to the winter, I'd be almost foolish not to do it. But if the Braves came to me with an offer that was fair, I'd be more than happy to entertain it."

Despite persistent rumors that suggest Maddux wants to play closer to his Las Vegas home, he said the thought of playing for another team is not appealing to him.

"It will feel weird wearing another uniform," he said. "But over time you forget about a lot of things. I never thought I'd enjoy playing anywhere as much as I did Chicago and I was dead wrong about that."

EXTRA DAY OFF: Shortstop Rafael Furcal was surprised to learn he had a second-straight day off Saturday, though he admitted he's suffering from a "slow bat."

"I'm not swinging the bat good," said the leadoff hitter, who has just two hits in his past 22 at-bats. "When I'm swinging the bat good, I hit line drives. When I'm not, they're fly balls."

Manager Bobby Cox also gave catcher Javy Lopez, who struck out four times and had a throwing error in Friday night's win, the day off and teamed catcher Henry Blanco with pitcher Jason Marquis.

"I'd like to rest some other guys, and still win too, but we're short on players right now," Cox said.

With right fielder Gary Sheffield home in Atlanta receiving treatment for a sprained left thumb, Cox is reluctant to rest left fielder Chipper Jones and center fielder Andruw Jones.

Sheffield has seen team doctor Joe Chandler every day and his thumb is improving, but it remains sore. It's doubtful Sheffield will play when the team opens a homestand Monday afternoon against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

"He's doing all the right things," assistant trainer Jeff Porter said, "but his thumb is still sore."

AMONG THE BEST: With Moss' eight-inning, one-run performance Friday, he joined the league's top 10 with a 3.20 ERA. That gives the Braves four starters - Maddux (2.56), Glavine (2.66), and Kevin Millwood (3.21) are the others - among the top 10, the first time that's happened in the majors since Maddux, Glavine, Denny Neagle and John Smoltz ended the 1997 season ranked there.

Moss also regained the league's top spot with a .206 opponent's batting average.

Reach Bill Zack at bzack30143@aol.com.


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