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07/25/07 10:47 PM ET
Notes: Braves feel trade winds
Saltalamacchia takes rumors in stride; hurlers challenge Bonds
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
SAN FRANCISO -- While preparing for a game at Turner Field this past weekend, Edgar Renteria wondered if there was a chance that the Braves could deal him before next Tuesday's trade deadline. When told "I doubt it," he responded with "You can never say never." During the course of his career, Renteria has come to understand that even the game's best players can become expendable if the business aspect deems them to be so. As Jarrod Saltalamacchia has learned over the course of the past few weeks, it's the game's finest prospects who find themselves as the most attractive assets to be traded in late July. With Tuesday's 4 p.m. ET trade deadline quickly approaching, Renteria's name has been included in at least one trade rumor that at least one scout labeled as "normal scuttlebutt." As for Saltalamacchia, his name has definitely been included in many trade discussions, most notably the ones that have centered around the possibility of bringing Mark Teixeira to Atlanta. "It's part of the game, it's part of the business," Saltalamacchia said. "I'm not going to let it bother me right now. If it happens, it happens." Saltalamacchia, a strong 22-year-old switch-hitting catcher who has drawn interest from many organizations, would be the key piece in any marquee deal that Braves general manager John Schuerholz might be able to complete. The Rangers certainly have interest in him and are asking for two additional prospects, with the necessity of one of them being a starting pitcher. While there has been talk of 18-year-old phenom Elvis Andrus being one of the pieces to the potential Teixeira deal, one Major League scout indicated Brent Lillibridge would be the more likely Braves Minor League shortstop to be shipped to Texas. With All-Star shortstop Michael Young and second baseman Ian Kinsler in place potentially for many years to come, the Rangers don't have a definite need for middle infielders. They are in search of a speedy outfielder and they may view Lillibridge as a potential solution. The 24-year-old shortstop, who has combined to hit .274 with 30 stolen bases in 40 attempts with Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Richmond this year, played some outfield at the University of Washington. As for starting pitchers, the Braves may be more apt to move Matt Harrision than Jo-Jo Reyes, who is slated to make his fourth Major League start Friday. Harrison, a 22-year-old southpaw who entered this season as the club's top pitching prospect, is 5-7 with a 3.39 ERA in 20 starts for Mississippi. With a need for a left-handed reliever, the Braves may ask the Rangers to include 35-year-old veteran Ron Mahay in the deal. Mahay has a 2.15 ERA in 26 appearances and left-handers are hitting just .217 against him. Rest for the weary: Having played the entirety of Tuesday night's 13-inning game, both Braves catcher Brian McCann and Giants left fielder Barry Bonds were left out of Wednesday night's lineup. The biggest difference in the absences of these two All-Stars was the fact that Commissioner Bud Selig hadn't flown to San Francisco on Tuesday to watch McCann chase history for a few days. Instead, after months of deliberation, Selig opted to travel from his Milwaukee home to see Bonds attempt to move closer to Hank Aaron's all-time record of 755 career homers. But even though the Braves have challenged him during each plate appearance of this series, he's managed just two singles in eight at-bats with two walks. "We've pitched to him 10 straight times," said Braves manager Bobby Cox of Bonds, whose career homer total stands at 753. Having been victimized by Bonds with a pair of two-homer games, there may have been some reason for Tim Hudson to approach the slugger with caution Tuesday night. But in the process of limiting him to a single in four at-bats, Hudson at one point threw him 13 straight strikes. "I think the key with Barry is just be aggressive," Hudson said. "Sometimes, I think you're better off doing that. He's obviously going to occasionally take advantage of that and hit some homers off you. But I'd rather do that than fall behind 2-0 or 3-1 and then leave a pitch over the middle of the plate because I was feeling uncomfortable." Happy anniversary, Otis: When told Wednesday marked the 15th anniversary of what it known by Braves fans as The Catch, Cox was surprised. So much time has passed, he was quite sure Otis Nixon's breathtaking robbery of a seemingly sure Andy Van Slyke homer at Altanta-Fulton County Stadium had occurred during the postseason. But longtime Braves announcer Pete Van Wieren still has fond memories and clear visions of that ninth-inning catch that helped seal a 1-0 win that kept the Braves two games ahead of the Reds in a tight National League West race. "There have been a lot of great catches when, as the years go by, your memory of it becomes fuzzy, but not with that one," Van Wieren said. "I remember him vaulting that wall and I remember him coming down and seeing that indentation in the wall where he'd stepped. That was just a remarkable catch." Coincidently, this 1-0 win's offensive hero was David Justice, who homered in the second inning to account for the Braves' only hit of the game. Four years later, his solo homer in the decisive sixth game of the 1996 World Series would account for the only run in a game during which Tom Glavine and Mark Wohlers combined to limit the Indians to just one hit. Coming up: The Braves will conclude their four-game series against the Giants at AT&T Park on Thursday at 4:05 p.m. ET. They'll send Buddy Carlyle (5-2, 4.05 ERA) to the mound to face Tim Lincecum (5-2, 3.96).
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.