10/08/10 9:09 PM ET
Cox sticks with Conrad at second in Game 2
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
Before Friday's Game 2, Bobby Cox indicated that he too thinks Conrad has shown some apprehension in the field. But with his options limited, Atlanta's skipper has made every attempt to show the 30-year-old rookie infielder that he still has confidence in his abilities.
"We're doing the best we can in trying to build him up and keep him moving," Cox said. "We wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for Brooksy getting clutch hits late in games. He's won us a ton of games and you stay with him."
While playing third base last week after Martin Prado suffered season-ending injuries (hip pointer and torn oblique muscle), Conrad committed errors in three consecutive games. He was consequently shifted to second base for Sunday's regular-season finale, and committed another error.
Conrad's defensive woes continued in the third inning of Thursday night's postseason opener, when he booted a routine grounder.
Still, after committing an error in five consecutive games, Conrad was back at second base for Game 2. Cox's only other logical choice seemed to be to take a chance on playing Troy Glaus at third base and allowing Omar Infante to move back to second.
Glaus spent most of his career as a third baseman and reintroduced himself to the position while playing for Triple-A Gwinnett during the final week of August. But the only two innings he has played at the hot corner in the Majors this year came during a convincing Sept. 8 win over the Pirates.
Safe ruling doesn't sway Cox on instant replay
SAN FRANCISCO -- Second-base umpire Paul Emmel's decision to rule Buster Posey safe on a fourth-inning stolen-base attempt influenced the 1-0 loss the Braves suffered to the Giants in Game 1 of the National League Division Series on Thursday night.
But when Braves manager Bobby Cox returned to AT&T Park on Friday for Game 2, he hadn't altered his view and determined that Major League Baseball needs to expand its instant replay system, which is currently used only to review disputable home run calls.
"You know, I'm talking to more and more people that say, 'We should have some type of review on plays,'" Cox said. "I'm not so sure it's a good idea, to be honest with you. I know it cost us last night, but -- and I would have to see the system."
Cox is among those who fear that expanding the current replay rules would adversely affect the pace of games and cause them to last too long.
"With technology the way it is now, I think if you could do it as quick as you could possibly do it, that would be nice," Braves catcher Brian McCann said. "But to hold up a pitcher, to take five minutes on a call, I don't think that would be good. But if you could get it quick, everybody would like the right call being made."
Television replays showed that Brooks Conrad tagged Posey before the Giants catcher slid into second base. Because Conrad didn't react, Cox said he may not have even disputed the play if an expanded replay system was in place.
"We could not tell from the dugout," Cox said. "The players could not tell if he was safe or out. And we didn't have any emotion from our infielders that, 'Hey, the guy was out!' So, you know, if they have instant replay where you get a challenge or whatever you want to call it, I'm not sure I would have done it, unless somebody is running down from upstairs that had seen it on TV."
No sign of inexperience from Venters, Kimbrel
SAN FRANCISCO -- There may have been eyebrows raised when the Braves submitted a National League Division Series roster that included five rookie relievers. But while making their postseason debuts in Thursday night's Game 1 loss to the Giants, Jonny Venters and Craig Kimbrel provided reason to believe they can take the heat of the playoffs.
Venters' first pitch of his postseason career resulted in a double play that ended the sixth inning after the Giants had put runners at runners at the corners with one out against Derek Lowe. The southpaw then recorded two strikeouts in a perfect seventh.
Kimbrel, who spent most of this season with Triple-A Gwinnett, entered the eighth inning with a runner on first and nobody out. Aubrey Huff was thrown out attempting to steal second before the hard-throwing reliever ended the inning by getting Buster Posey to look at a called third strike.
"You have to have confidence in them, and that's the name of the game," manager Bobby Cox said. "I've got patience and I've got confidence, both. So they did a whale of a job -- ever since they've been up, they've done a great job. We've been in a pressure cooker just about all season. It's not easy to come up and perform to their capabilities all the time, but these guys basically have."
Kimbrel didn't allow an earned run in the 11 1/3 innings he worked after joining Atlanta's roster when Gwinnett's season concluded. In the process, the 22-year-old reliever recorded 23 strikeouts, issued just five walks and limited opponents to a .108 batting average.
"He's showing us over the past month and a half that he can accept a late-inning role -- whether it be closer, setup guy -- moving into the future," catcher Brian McCann said.
With Billy Wagner still seemingly planning to retire at the end of this season, Kimbrel and Venters stand as the top candidates to serve as Atlanta's closer in 2011.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.