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Notes: Fresh faces abound
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10/06/2004 4:05 PM ET
Notes: Fresh faces abound
Braves feature nine postseason newcomers on roster
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Johnny Estrada was on the postseason roster last fall as Javy Lopez's backup, but he didn't play against the Cubs in the NLDS. (Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

ATLANTA -- While the Braves have been participants in each of the past 13 postseasons, their roster for this year's Division Series against the Astros contains a number of new and green faces.

When the Braves revealed their 25-man roster on Wednesday morning, it contained 14 players who have never been part of past Atlanta postseason rosters. In addition, nine players were included on a postseason roster for the first time in their career.

"We don't have the same names on the jerseys that we've had in past years," Chipper Jones said. "That's not always a bad thing."

While the inexperience can be viewed as a negative, it can also be viewed as a positive, because newcomers, such as first baseman Adam LaRoche, aren't fully aware of the event's magnitude.

"I think it can go both ways," LaRoche said. "I think it can help, because so many of us aren't going to be too nervous because we don't have experience. It can be bad, because some of us realize just how important every pitch is. But it's great to have a few veterans around here to help us."

Joining LaRoche as players who are making their first appearance on a postseason roster are: pitchers Paul Byrd, Juan Cruz, Chris Reitsma and John Thomson; infielders Wilson Betemit and Nick Green; and outfielders Charles Thomas and Dewayne Wise.

   Johnny Estrada  /   C
Born: 06/27/76
Height: 5'11"
Weight: 210 lbs
Bats: S / Throws: R

The other five members of the postseason roster who are participating in the playoffs with the Braves for the first time are: outfielders J.D. Drew and Eli Marerro; and pitchers Antonio Alfonseca, Tom Martin and Jaret Wright.

"That's good. I think it gives us an edge," Johnny Estrada said. "I think we're just young and inexperienced enough to not know what kind of pressure we're supposed to be feeling."

Estrada, who didn't make an appearance after being placed on his first postseason roster during last year's Division Series against the Cubs, and LaRoche claimed that they weren't feeling any extra nerves during batting practice on Wednesday afternoon.

"It seems like everybody else is more nervous than us," Estrada said. "Maybe that's because we're not nervous."

Switching roles: During their three previous Division Series meetings, the Braves have dominated the Astros, winning nine of 10 games by a combined score of 51-26.

   Mike Hampton  /   P
Born: 09/09/72
Height: 5'10"
Weight: 195 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: L

Braves pitchers Mike Hampton and Martin were members of some of those Houston teams. Making one start in both the 1997 and 1999 Division Series, Hampton went 0-1 with a 6.94 ERA. Martin allowed one unearned run while making two appearances against Atlanta in the 1997 Division Series.

Hampton, who is scheduled to start Thursday afternoon's Game 2, still considers such longtime Astros as Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell to be close friends.

"They're good friends of mine," Hampton said. "But for me the friendship will end, I guess, at 4:09 [p.m. ET] tomorrow."

Biggio and Bagwell both threw good-natured jabs toward Hampton because of the beard the Braves southpaw is sporting this week. But he says his decision to grow the beard has nothing to do with superstition.

"I really just wanted to see if I could grow a beard," Hampton said. "I just want to see what it looked like to have hair on my face."

Schuerholz's superstition: Braves general manager John Schuerholz arrived at Turner Field on Friday wearing suspenders that were adorned with Braves tomahawks. He says that he received them from a fan just before the start of the 1991 postseason, which concluded with consecutive heartbreaking losses to the Twins.

"It worked in '91, plus it went with my outfit today," Schuerholz said. "It worked perfect."

Chipper starts: As expected, Jones was in Wednesday's starting lineup against Roger Clemens and the Astros. Jones' bruised right hand is still providing him some discomfort. But he's been able to take batting practice without too much trouble each of the past two days.

"He's all right," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "I think he's about 80 percent, and that's good enough for me."

Braves bits: Cox still plans to start Thomson in Game 3. The strained muscle in Thomson's left side has shown improvement each of the past four days. ... When the Braves battled Clemens in Game 1, it marked the second straight game that they faced a 300-game winner. They faced Greg Maddux in the regular-season finale on Sunday at Wrigley Field.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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