Originally created 02/27/06

Jordan impresses Cox with work at first base



KISSIMMEE, Fla. - Brian Jordan fielded ground balls at first base Sunday as he attempted to improve his chances of making the Atlanta Braves roster as a utility player.

Jordan, one month away from his 39th birthday, was invited to the Braves' camp as a non-roster player. He hit.247 with three homers and 24 RBIs last season, when he couldn't hold a starting job.

Jordan, who said he initially was drafted as a shortstop out of Milford Mill High in Baltimore, caught the eye of manager Bobby Cox with his agility in the infield.

"He's bouncing around out there," Cox said. "He plays first base pretty good. He catches the ball really nice. I was pleasantly surprised."

Adam LaRoche returns at first base after sharing time with Julio Franco the last two years. Franco signed with the New York Mets as a free agent.

If LaRoche doesn't win the full-time job, Jordan wants to be considered among other right-handed hitters who could fill the void left by Franco's exit in the platoon.

"The more the merrier," Jordan said of the competition.

"I just want to show them I can do it if they need me.... It just gives Bobby more options."

Said Cox: "It doesn't hurt him."

Jordan had surgery on Nov. 15 to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee.

"He looks fine to me," Cox said. "He's going through the paces awfully hard."

Rookie James Jurries may be the top contender as the right-handed hitter if the Braves use a platoon at first with the left-handed hitting LaRoche.

Jordan also is an option in a possible left-field platoon with Ryan Langerhans. Other possibilities in left field include Kelly Johnson, who like Langerhans is a left-handed hitter, and Matt Diaz, a right-handed hitter.

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THUMBS UP FROM BOYER: Reliever Blaine Boyer gave a positive review Sunday to his first throwing session of the spring Saturday.

Boyer is returning from a sore shoulder at the end of the 2005 season. He rested the shoulder all offseason.

"I felt strong," Boyer said. "I felt my mechanics were a little rusty, but that's to be expected."

Boyer threw 30 pitches Saturday and plans to throw 45 pitches Monday and then 60 in his next session.

"If I stick to the schedule, I'm going to be ready by opening day," he said.

Boyer was 4-2 with a 3.11 ERA in 43 games as a rookie last year. If healthy, he could be one of the team's top relievers.

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RENTERIA IS A HIT: Edgar Renteria participated in hitting and fielding drills Sunday as he continues to return from a pulled rib muscle.

Cox said Renteria looked "really good" in batting practice.

"He's got great hitting mechanics," Cox said. "He does it real easy."