Originally created 07/27/06

Lifelong Braves fan Shiell is taking it as it comes



ATLANTA - When the draft call came from the Braves in 1995, Jason Shiell was happy to be headed for his favorite team.

"Growing up, that's who I rooted for," he said.

The Savannah, Ga., native, who played at Windsor Forest High School, spent his childhood imitating Dale Murphy or Bob Horner.

But Shiell, who estimates he pitched only a dozen or so innings in high school, was surprised to find out the Braves wanted him to take the mound.

"Whatever y'all want," thought Shiell, who still lives in Rincon, Ga.

It would be almost 11 years before Shiell, who was sent to the San Diego organization with Ryan Klesko in 1999 and spent 2003 in the Red Sox system, would pitch for Atlanta.

But even pitching in the big leagues in 2006 was beyond what Shiell, who spent time in the majors with Boston and the Padres, had hoped for. He spent 2004 and 2005 injured and recovering from a pair of surgeries.

So it wasn't too discouraging for Shiell to give up four runs in the fourth inning of his start against the St. Louis Cardinals on July 19. Shiell was pulled after that inning, and the Braves went on to lose 8-3.

"I'll take anything that comes at me this year," he said.

Besides, by his reckoning, he's still recovering.

"Two years off, and really no time to really work my body out," he said. "It's coming back. I just need the time and the innings to get it back."

But Shiell, who starts again today, knows that this could be just a fill-in role while the Braves wait for John Thomson to return. That doesn't intimidate him, he said.

"I'm here pitching right now. ... You go like you're supposed to be here," Shiell said.

JONESES PLAY: After going three games without either Chipper or Andruw Jones, the Braves got both back Wednesday. Andruw Jones was in the original lineup Wednesday after pinch hitting Tuesday night.

Chipper Jones was a late add, taking over his usual third base spot from utility man Wilson Betemit.

Chipper Jones said before the game that he would lobby to play only if he had the "reckless abandon that I need." Batting right-handed was the last hurdle to overcome, he said.

"When it feels better, I'm going to be in there," Jones said.

He went into the game with a 20-game hitting streak to preserve.

Jones was hitting .512 during the run, becoming only the second player since 1929 to have an average above .500 in a streak lasting 20 games or longer.

BETEMIT ON MOVE? The trade buzz surrounding Betemit grew a bit louder Wednesday, when the New York Post reported that the Yankees were interested in the versatile utility man.

The proposed swap would reportedly bring Scott Proctor to Atlanta's bullpen. Proctor (3-2, 3.94 ERA) has 60 strikeouts this year in 64 innings of work.

No announcement was made before the Braves-Marlins game Wednesday.

ON DECK: Shiell (0-1, 9.00 ERA) takes the mound against southpaw Scott Olsen (8-4, 4.01).

Olsen was shelled for eight earned runs in 4w innings May 18 at Turner Field. The game, televised on TBS, begins at 1:05 p.m.

Reach Brandon Larrabee at brandon.larrabee@morris.com