10/07/2002 7:51 pm ET
MLBeat: Braves are ready to play
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
ATLANTA -- Hours after completing Game 4 of the Division Series in San Francisco, the Braves made their transcontinental flight back to Atlanta to prepare for Monday night's decisive Game 5 of the Division Series against the Giants.
The team's charter, which included all the players and coaches (minus Monday's starting pitcher Kevin Millwood), arrived in Atlanta at approximately 5:30 a.m. ET. But Braves manager Bobby Cox believes his team has gotten adequate rest and will be ready for Monday's first pitch, which is scheduled for 8:31 p.m. ET.
"Some of these guys got some sleep on the airplane and they are energetic," Cox said in reference to his team.
After the team arrived at Atlanta's Hartsfield International Airport, they dropped their bags off at Turner Field, hopped in their cars and drove to their homes.
"I think most of the guys got in bed by 7:30 or so," Cox said. "I was telling (Pat) Corrales, we used to do this in the minor leagues all the time and drink beer all the way."
Corrales, Cox's long-time assistant coach, countered by saying, "We're not 19 years old anymore either."
Greg Maddux said he actually arrived home a little earlier than Cox had believed. Maddux got in bed around 6:20 a.m. ET, only to be awoken 10 minutes later by his wife, Kathy's alarm.
"It didn't really bother me," Maddux said. "I think I fell back asleep at six-thirty and five seconds."
As for Millwood, he took an early flight back to Atlanta on Sunday and arrived at 4 p.m. ET. The Braves right-hander watched Sunday's game at his home and had the luxury of sleeping in his own bed. Giants starter Russ Ortiz, who will oppose Millwood, traveled on the team charter that arrived on Monday at 6:15 a.m. ET.
Bullpen ready: Even though Tom Glavine was forced to leave Sunday night's game in the third inning, Braves manager Cox will have his full mix of relievers to choose from for Monday night's game.
"They are all good to go tonight," Cox said. "I've polled them all and they are fine."
Kevin Gryboski, Damian Moss and Kerry Ligtenberg limited the Giants to one earned run in the final 5 1/3 innings of Sunday's 8-3 loss. But more importantly, they ate up innings to ensure that John Smoltz, Mike Remlinger, Chris Hammond and Darren Holmes will be available for Game 5.
"The main guys that pitch the core of the game are OK and they are strong," Cox said. "We'll be OK in the pen."
Hammond, who suffered a strained neck in Game 1, appears to be healthy. He tossed a perfect inning on Saturday and said that his neck ailment has gone from being a hindrance to feeling more like a simple bruise.
Julio again: Despite hitting .167 (3-for-18) in the first four games of the Division Series, Julio Franco once again received the starting nod over Matt Franco at first base in Game 5. This comes despite the fact that the Giants are throwing right-hander Russ Ortiz in the decisive contest.
Julio, who had one hit in three at-bats against Ortiz in Game 1, hit .256 (67-for-262) against right-handers and the left-handed hitting Matt batted .319 (63-for-199) against them.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its