Originally created 05/27/05

Closer-by-committee is adopted by Braves



ATLANTA - Braves manager Bobby Cox isn't overly concerned about the state of the club's bullpen, particularly who will be the reliever called on to close out games.

The franchise's recent history has taught him it's not something to worry about.

"Alejandro Pena, Juan Berenguer, Mike Stanton, Greg McMichael," Cox said, listing the names of piecemeal closers during the early part of the club's run of division titles. "We've always found a way to get it done."

And that's the task at hand for the 2005 bullpen after Dan Kolb's demotion a little more than a week ago.

"We'll just see how this plays out," Cox said.

It's played out the past two games with Chris Reitsma on the mound. Reitsma, who carried the setup role into the season, inherited a 4-0 lead Tuesday and pitched a perfect ninth.

On Wednesday, he came into the eighth up 3-0. He got the final six outs in order, striking out the final two batters to get his first save of the year.

Will there be more? Time will tell, but Reitsma isn't concerned with that as much as he is with individuals pulling together as a group to finish games without undue stress.

"Bobby has said it's going to be all hands on deck. I think we're all prepared," said Reitsma, who is 1-2 with a 4.18 ERA in 23 innings. "Every one of us down there has got to step up. When roles come some day, they come, but until that time, you just keep plugging away and try and encourage each other the best we can as a unit and get it done."

If it's not Reitsma, there's been some indication Adam Bernero or Jorge Sosa could get save opportunities.

The pen's state of uncertainty isn't one that's exclusive to the club. Actually, far from it. Of the 30 major-league teams, 19 have had to reshuffle their pen to accommodate a change with their closer.

Granted, many of those alterations have had to do with injuries. Few teams have had to actually demote their closer.

Reach Travis Haney at travis.haney@morris.com.