Originally created 02/25/03

Pursley makes return to Braves clubhouse



KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- A familiar face showed up in the Atlanta Braves clubhouse Monday.

Longtime trainer Dave Pursley, who retired after last season, drove to Florida to spend a few days with his old team.

"There's a lot of new faces," he said, glancing toward the locker that used to belong to Tom Glavine.

Pursley, who worked with the Braves organization for 52 years, said he still misses his old routine.

"I find myself reading the news from Florida every day," he said. "I didn't have to before because I was here. I try to read between the lines, figure out what's really going on."

Since retiring, Pursley has been enjoying some of his going-away gifts. He took a trip to the Napa Valley in California and is planning to visit Italy later this year. He drove to Florida in his Lexus sedan, which was given to him by the players.

"This is really the first time I got a chance to get it out on the open road," Pursley said with a grin. "It can really get by other cars fast. It's a pleasure to drive."

Pursley plans to spend at least four or five days in central Florida, mostly playing golf with the team doctors and manager Bobby Cox.

Cox hasn't been able to play much golf since injuring his back over the winter, but he wanted to spend some time with his good friend.

"I'll probably just end of driving instead of playing," Cox said.

"We're going to be putting for a buck," Pursley interjected.

"I'm not sure I can even putt," Cox replied.

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THE MARRYING GUYS: The Braves had an outbreak of marriages during the offseason.

Outfielder Andruw Jones, infielder Mark DeRosa, first baseman Robert Fick and pitcher Jason Marquis all got hitched since the end of last season.

"Is there a single guy on the team?" DeRosa asked. "I guess there will be a lot of family functions this year."

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PENDLETON'S JOB: Even though the Braves didn't show noticeable offensive improvement last season, manager Bobby Cox insisted that he's happy with hitting coach Terry Pendleton.

In Pendleton's first year on the staff, Atlanta batted .260 with 164 homers and 708 runs - a slight drop from the previous year's numbers: .260 with 174 homers and 729 runs.

"Terry is outstanding," Cox said. "He works hard. He's got good common sense when it comes hitting. That's the toughest job in baseball."

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THIS AND THAT: RHP Jason Marquis, coming back from shoulder problems, had his best session yet in the bullpen. "Control, velocity, movement - he had it all going pretty good," manager Bobby Cox said. Marquis will throw batting practice for the first time Wednesday. ... With the first exhibition game three days away, the Braves turned to fundamentals for the first time this spring. They spent about an hour at the start of the day working on their bunting defense. ... C Javy Lopez and LHP Mike Hampton stood out during batting practice. "Javy was hitting 'em nine miles," Cox said. ... Team doctors met with the team before the workout, making their annual pitch to avoid unhealthy behavior. Asked if ephedra was one of the subjects, Cox said, "All that's covered."