Originally created 06/08/06

Cox: Reitsma is still closer, not Ray



ATLANTA - Ken Ray will close more games for Atlanta, manager Bobby Cox said Wednesday, but Ray has not supplanted Chris Reitsma as the team's designated closer.

"I'm still picking and choosing," Cox said, adding that Ray "is pitching real good right now."

Ray worked a perfect ninth inning in Tuesday's 5-3 win against the Nationals. The save was his third in his past seven appearances. He has yielded a run in only one of those games, lowering his ERA to 2.20.

The 31-year-old journeyman said he enjoys closing games and "having the weight on my shoulder alone." He refused to campaign for the job, though, saying Reitsma - who has four blown saves and a 7.20 ERA - is still the closer.

"It's not my job," Ray said. "If I can go out there every once in a while and close a game for him, that's fine. Any situation they give me the ball in, whether it's two runs down or two runs up, it doesn't matter to me.

"Just to know (Cox) has the confidence in me to put me in that situation is enough."

Ray has earned his manager's faith. He pitched a perfect inning Monday against the Nationals as well. He worked three consecutive days two weeks ago against the Cubs, allowing no runs and just one baserunner in three innings.

His only stumble came Saturday against Arizona. He allowed three runs on three hits and a walk in two-thirds of an inning.

STILL ON THE FARM: Catcher Brian McCann made another rehabilitation start with the Class A Rome Braves on Wednesday. He is eligible to come off the disabled list today, although Cox said the team could wait until the end of the week to activate him.

"We don't want to make a mistake with him," Cox said. "We don't want him catching one night and go down the next."

McCann was hitting .347 and was among the National League hitting leaders when he sprained his ankle May 23 in San Diego.

Only five players in the major leagues were hitting better than .347 going into Wednesday's games.

McCann singled in Wednesday's rehab start in Rome. He came out of the lineup midway through that game to return to Atlanta for evaluation.

DAVIES' REHAB :Pitcher Kyle Davies ran in the Turner Field outfield Wednesday afternoon, the first time he's tested his groin since tearing a muscle last month. Davies started eight games and was 2-3 with a 6.12 ERA prior to the injury.

He is expected to miss several more weeks while rehabbing from the muscle tear.

Reach Adam Van Brimmer at (404) 589-8424 or adam.vanbrimmer@morris.com