Originally created 05/01/06

Reitsma looking for more work after saving one against the Mets

ATLANTA - Chris Reitsma is looking for more work.

Already facing questions about his fitness for the job, the Atlanta Braves' closer struggled a bit in the first month of the season, giving up 14 hits in 9 2-3 innings to go along with an ERA of 5.59.

But Reitsma hasn't really gotten a chance to show if he can handle the job. He's only pitched in eight games, going nine days between appearances at one point. He also had a five-day layoff and a couple of four-day breaks.

Reitsma picked up his fifth save in six chances Sunday, working the final 1 1-3 innings of an 8-5 victory over the New York Mets - a team that scored two runs off him in a non-save situation Friday night.

"It's big for my confidence," he said. "I want to get on a roll. I want to pitch in more games. Hopefully, I can take this game and move ahead."

Reitsma came on with the bases loaded in the eighth after Oscar Villareal walked in a run, bringing the potential go-ahead run to the plate. But Reitsma got Kaz Matsui on a lazy fly to left for the third out.

In the ninth, Reitsma created a bit of trouble for himself when he walked leadoff hitter Carlos Beltran and gave up a two-out single to Cliff Floyd. This time, Raul Castro popped up down the right-field line, where Jeff Francoeur made a diving catch to end the game.

"I'm glad we were able to take care of business," Reitsma said.


McBRIDE RETURNS: Macay McBride is back with the Braves.

Atlanta brought the left-handed reliever off the disabled list Sunday and optioned infielder Tony Pena to Triple-A Richmond.

McBride had been recovering from a strained left forearm, which he sustained during spring training. He began an injury rehab assignment on April 10 and pitched a total of seven games at Richmond and Double-A Mississippi.

In four games at Mississippi, McBride surrendered five earned runs in 4 2-3 innings, though he did have six strikeouts. He pitched three scoreless inning in three games for Richmond, picking up three more Ks.

McBride wound up pitching longer in the minors than expected - time that was needed because of weakness in his arm."

"There's no pain, but pitching in the bullpen isn't like a game," he said. "Once I got to Richmond, the ball came out better."

McBride pitched in 23 games for the Braves last season, going 1-0 with one save and a 5.79 ERA.

Pena, the son of former major league catcher and manager Tony Pena, was called up from the minors April 10 and played in six games. He went 1-for-9 with three strikeouts.


FLOYD STRUGGLES: While the Mets are off to a great start this season, the same can't be said of left fielder Cliff Floyd.

Floyd had a couple of hits Sunday but is still hitting just.195 with two homers and 11 RBIs.

"I'm going to stay positive," he said. "Sometimes, it's not how you start but how you finish. I keep my confidence where it ought to be - that's high. Pitchers are paid also. They're paid to get us out."


NO WALKS: Jeff Francoeur made it through the first month of the season without drawing a walk.

Francoeur went through a similar stretch last year to start his major league career, though he did manage 11 walks before the season was done.

In April, Francoeur had 97 at-bats without ever getting to ball four. By comparison, Marcus Giles already has 15 walks, while Andruw Jones and Adam LaRoche have both reached double figures.

Francoeur took some extra swings before Sunday's game with hitting coach Terry Pendleton. The result: no walks, but a 4-for-5 performance that included a homer and a career-high five RBIs.

"I'm just thankful I was able to see some stuff today that I could handle and put some good swings on," Francoeur said. "I've been flying open, my front hip, and just trying to yank everything. So it felt good."

Francoeur had three straight singles before hitting a mammoth two-run homer in the sixth.

"The first at-bat was my favorite," he said. "I was able to hold back and just stay on a curve ball up the middle. It just felt good. It gave me some confidence, knowing I can stay back on something."


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