Originally created 06/13/05

Braves call up two pitchers from Double A Mississippi



ATLANTA - The Atlanta Braves continued their search for pitching help Sunday, calling up Blaine Boyer and Jorge Vasquez from Double A Mississippi.

The Braves added the two right-handed pitchers to their bullpen in separate moves. Before the game, the team sent struggling relief pitcher Roman Colon to Mississippi and recalled Boyer, who pitched in relief and received the decision in Atlanta's 11-5 loss to Oakland.

Boyer pitched one inning, giving up two hits and a run. He also walked a batter.

After the game, the team sent catcher Brayan Pena back to Triple A Richmond and called up Vasquez, who will join the Braves for Monday's game at Texas.

Vasquez was 1-0 with 10 saves and a 1.17 ERA for Mississippi. In 30 2-3 innings, he had allowed only 17 hits while striking out 34 batters.

"He's a great pitcher; he's got a dominating slider," Boyer said.

Vasquez was acquired in the offseason trade that sent outfielder Eli Marrero to Kansas City.

The Braves' bullpen has been a weakness since the first month of the season as Dan Kolb has lost his closer's job to Chris Reitsma. Adam Bernero, who gave up six runs Sunday, Colon and others have struggled.

"We still have some straightening out to do in the bullpen," said manager Bobby Cox after Sunday's game. "It should be straightened out by now."

Added Cox: "Guys show flashes and then all of a sudden - boom!"

After giving up the six runs, Bernero has a 5.40 ERA. "He threw a lot of first pitches right down the middle," Cox said.

Boyer began the season as a starter in Mississippi and has appeared in only six games in relief, the role he will assume in Atlanta.

Boyer was 2-4 with a 5.04 ERA at Mississippi, giving up 62 hits and 18 walks in 48 1-3 innings.

Boyer, from Marietta, is the third Atlanta-area rookie to join the team. Pitcher Kyle Davies is from Stockbridge and catcher Brian McCann is from Duluth.

But unlike McCann and Davies, Boyer said he doesn't have a childhood picture posing with pitcher John Smoltz.

"I wasn't lucky enough to do that," Boyer said. "But believe me, I've been watching him for a long time."

Colon was 0-3 with an 8.50 ERA in 18 games in Atlanta. The Braves plan for Colon to serve as a closer when he is promoted from Mississippi to Triple-A Richmond, but first he must improve his control in Mississippi.

"It's location," Cox said when asked what is hurting Colon. "He's throwing the ball harder than ever. He throws 96, 97 miles per hour a lot."

Colon, perhaps the hardest-throwing pitcher on the Atlanta staff, gave up a two-run homer to Oakland's Eric Chavez Friday night in his last appearance.

Colon gave up six homers in 18 innings.

Colon was 2-1 with a 3.32 ERA in Atlanta in 2004.

The addition of Vasquez will give the Braves 12 pitchers, including three rookies - Davies, Boyer and Vasquez.

"I'm excited about what's to come," Boyer said. "It's a great thing. I just hope people don't get nervous because the Braves haven't done this before. We're winners down there in our farm system, and we're going to keep winning."

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A START FOR SOSA: Cox told reliever Jorge Sosa Sunday that he will at least temporarily serve as the team's fifth starter. Sosa will start Tuesday at Texas and again next Sunday at Cincinnati.

"It might get him going, to get him some innings," said Cox of Sosa, who is 2-0 with a 2.63 ERA.

Sosa worked both as a starter and reliever for Tampa Bay before coming to Atlanta in a March 31 trade that sent infielder Nick Green to the Devil Rays.

"I'll be ready," said Sosa, who said he was "very happy" to start at least two games.

"I know my arm is ready," he said.

The Braves have two starters on the disabled list - John Thomson and Mike Hampton.

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CATCHING ON: The decision to send Pena to Richmond means McCann will stick with the Braves at least until veteran backup Eddie Perez has recovered from his shoulder problem.

With Perez on the 15-day DL and planning to see Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala., next week, McCann will play behind starter Johnny Estrada, who is expected to return for Monday night's game at Texas. Estrada has been out since suffering a mild concussion in a home-plate collision last Monday.

In his first two games, McCann is hitting.429 with a homer and two RBIs. He also has impressed Cox with his defensive play.