Newest Brave gets Chipper' s spot in lineup

Associated Press
Nate McLouth

ATLANTA --- Nate McLouth embraced his new opportunity with the Atlanta Braves on Thursday only after an emotional departure from the Pittsburgh Pirates.

McLouth said he was excited about the chance to win in Atlanta but was sad to be dealt from the Pirates, his only professional home before the trade. He said Wednesday's trade for three minor league players -- outfielder Gorkys Hernandez and pitchers Charlie Morton and Jeff Locke -- "was shocking."

"It was the last thing on my mind, to be honest with you," McLouth said Thursday before the Braves scheduled game against the Cubs was postponed because of rain. "To get a call from a GM on your cell phone is pretty rare, so I knew something was up when I got the call. He told me I was coming on over here."

McLouth was in the Braves' starting lineup as the No. 3 hitter and the starting center fielder. Atlanta manager Bobby Cox said McLouth can hit "anywhere you want. He can hit anywhere in the top three."

He moved from a fifth-place team in the NL Central to a third-place team in the NL East. McLouth said the opportunity to win "is what every player wants."

"The people are going to be hard to leave, but I lost a lot of games there and that's hard to do as an athlete," he said. "When you talk about winning, the Atlanta Braves are one of the top organizations that come to mind. To be a part of it is something special."

Chipper Jones has been a fixture as Atlanta's No. 3 hitter, but after talking with manager Cox he agreed to hit fourth to accommodate McLouth.

"I talked to Bobby about it and told him I was open to whatever is best for the club," Jones said. "I don't know if this is permanent. We'll see. If I get more RBI opportunities out of it, I'll be happy with it."

Jones has hit .316 in 5,726 career at-bats as the No. 3 hitter and .297 in 1,643 at-bats hitting fourth.

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