New owner less stringent

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PHILADELPHIA - The Braves are still a few months away from their first offseason under new owner Liberty Media. But this much is already certain: the team will have more flexibility to increase payroll than under previous owner Time Warner.

Braves president Terry McGuirk said Liberty has not imposed a hard cap on player salaries since acquiring the franchise in mid-May, a significant change from recent years.

"We're more holistic about what it takes to do the job, as opposed to putting a number down and saying that's all we're going to do," McGuirk said while attending Friday's Braves-Phillies game. "And it I think it's been shown with the things we have done."

McGuirk was referring to the recent acquisitions of first baseman Mark Teixeira and relievers Octavio Dotel and Ron Mahay, who together are making more than $15 million this season.

The Braves are only responsible for about two months' worth of that figure. But still, McGuirk said the moves were a good indication of how the team will be run under Liberty.

Under Time Warner, the front office had to operate under a cap set by corporate bosses.

In 2003, payroll was cut from about $105 million to $80 million, which is roughly what it was going into this season. But Liberty CEO Greg Maffei said in May that the company would take a hands-off approach with the Braves, and that apparently includes decisions on player salaries.

STILL HURTING: Andruw Jones said he is still being hampered by a hyper-extended left elbow. The centerfielder was out of the starting lineup for two games last weekend after receiving a cortisone shot in the elbow, and returned on Tuesday in New York.

He entered Saturday's game against the Phillies hitting just .194 this month (6-for-31).

HOT START: Teixeira has proven to be a major upgrade over Jones in the cleanup spot. Entering Saturday, Teixeira had 11 RBI since being acquired.

RUNNING OUT OF MINUTES: It's a good thing that calling the bullpen isn't long distance, becuase the Braves have made numerous calls with all of the shuffling going on with their relievers because of trades, injuries and five pitching-related roster moves since Aug. 1.

Reach Brian Costa at brian.costa@morris.com.


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