Chipper makes speedy return to lineup
Pronounced himself ready after injuring hip on Saturday
NEW YORK -- When Chipper Jones awoke Sunday morning, he took a few dry swings in his hotel room and then called Braves hitting coach Terry Pendleton to tell him that he would be available to start Sunday night's series finale against the Mets.
"It's important for me to be in there," said Jones, acknowledging that his decision to make a quick return to the lineup was influenced by the fact that the Braves had suffered a fourth straight loss after he exited Saturday afternoon's game with a sore right hip.
Jones went hitless in two at-bats and committed a first-inning throwing error that led to the only run the Mets needed in their 1-0, rain-shortened, six-inning win over the Braves on Sunday. But the veteran third baseman said that his hip did not provide him any problems.
When Jones left Citi Field on Saturday afternoon, he thought he would miss at least a few games because of this hip discomfort that the Braves believe was caused by a ruptured bursa sac. But with the Mets starting right-hander Mike Pelfrey in the finale of this three-game series, the switch-hitting third baseman felt confident about his ability to hit from the left-handed side.
"The action of pushing off is what aggravated it yesterday," Jones said. "I don't do that left-handed. I just have to get my foot down and pivot from the left-handed side. So the left-handed swing should offer a minimal amount of pain. When it's going to come in play is if they turn me around."
Celebrating his 38th birthday on Saturday, Jones was forced to exit in the third inning after striking out for the second time against left-hander Jonathan Niese. He initially felt some discomfort on Friday night and then felt what he described as a "pop" when he took his first swing during Saturday's game.
Escobar lectured after baserunning gaffe
NEW YORK -- During his first four Major League seasons, Yunel Escobar has dazzled Braves manager Bobby Cox with his defensive skills and infuriated him with a rash of mental blunders -- similar to the one the shortstop committed against the Mets on Saturday afternoon, when he didn't tag from third base on Troy Glaus' deep drive to right-center field.
When asked again on Sunday what Escobar could have been thinking when he went more than halfway to the plate before returning to third base to tag, an obviously still-bewildered Cox essentially said, "I don't know." Later he added that members of his coaching staff had talked to the shortstop in the manner that they had the many previous times that he had provided a lack of effort or made a mental mistake.
"We've talked to him a lot," said Cox, who benched Escobar three times during the 2009 season and then seemingly attempted to send him a message by keeping him out of the lineup for Friday night's series opener against the Mets. During the two previous games, the 28-year-old Cuban shortstop had provided what appeared to be questionable effort on opposite ends of a pair of double-play grounders that proved to be pivotal moments in losses.
When asked what might have happened to a player from the era of his playing days had he done something like Escobar did on Saturday, Cox said, "It could probably get you sent out."
Escobar was back in the lineup for Sunday night's series finale against the Mets. It is unknown whether the Braves will at least attempt to punish him with a fine.
"You can fine anybody you want to if you can make it stick, because of the (Players') Union," Cox said.
Cox gives Pendleton vote of confidence
NEW YORK -- With many key members of the Braves lineup struggling during the early weeks of the season, Terry Pendleton has drawn criticism from fans, who want someone to blame for the fact that their club entered Sunday night's game against the Mets ranked 15th in the 16-team National League with a .227 batting average.
But holding the belief that his players have to take responsibility for the results they are realizing, Cox said these criticisms are being pointed in the wrong direction.
"The worst person in the world you ought to blame for a team not hitting is the hitting coach," Cox said. "We all feel bad. We're not hitting that bad. It's just that when we're not hitting, we're not getting them in."
Truthfully, the Braves have struggled in a variety of situations this year. Entering Sunday, they ranked last in the NL with a .216 batting average with nobody on base and 14th with the .242 mark they had posted with runners on base. With runners in scoring position, they ranked 13th with a .248 mark.
"That's the hardest job in the world being the hitting coach," Cox said. "They always get fired and re-hired somewhere. Why blame them? Terry is a very good hitting coach."
Venters has adventure on Subway
NEW YORK -- Braves left-handed reliever Jonny Venters' first experience on New York City's subway system lasted a little longer than he expected.
While accompanying Matt Diaz and Jo-Jo Reyes on the 7-Train en route to Saturday afternoon's game at Citi Field, Venters learned that that the train's doors close a little sooner than he expected. When the trio of Braves players arrived at the Mets-Willets Point stop, Diaz and Reyes were the only ones that exited.
"I didn't realize you had to get off so quick," Venters said. "They got off and the door shut right in front of me."
Venters, who has tossed six scoreless innings since getting his first call to the Majors last weekend, traveled one more stop on the train, got off and returned to correct stop in plenty of time to rejoin his amused teammates.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.