October 5, 2004
ATLANTA (AP) _ Chipper Jones managed to take batting cage today, then proclaimed himself well enough to start Game 1 of the playoffs. The Atlanta Braves third baseman is hampered for a sore right hand, which was struck by a pitch in the next-to-last game of the regular season. Jones skipped batting practice during an optional workout yesterday. He said the hand was too sore.
But, with a piece of padding taped over the tender spot, he finally got in some swings leading up to tomorrow's game of the division series against the Houston Astros. He left no doubt that he'll be in the lineup, even though second basemen Marcus Giles and Nick Green both took grounders at third just in case. Jones would prefer to not to play with his hand taped up. He will test it without the padding during batting practice before tomorrow's game.
ASTROS ROSTER: Houston manager Phil Garner set his playoff roster a day early, deciding to keep 11 pitchers and shortstop Adam Everett for the best-of-five opening round. The Astros dropped pitchers Tim Redding, Brandon Duckworth, Carlos Hernandez and Darren Oliver, who combined to make 34 starts this season.
Roger Clemens (18-4), Roy Oswalt (20-10) and Brandon Backe (5-3) will start the first three games against the Braves. Pete Munro (19 starts) is the only other pitcher on the staff with extensive experience as a starter. Everett was apparently the last addition to the 25-man roster. The shortstop broke his left wrist in early August and didn't return until the final week of the season.
The Astros considered giving him another week to rehab, hoping he could rejoin the team if it reached the National League championship series. But the trainers decided that Everett was as ready now as he would be in another week.
THOMSON UPDATE: The Braves are confident that John Thomson will be able to start Game 3 despite a strained oblique muscle. Thomson (14-8, 3.72) threw in the bullpen today. Manager Bobby Cox says the right-hander was at about 75 percent but with a couple of more days will be able to start.
Thomson was initially scheduled to start Game Two, but he hurt his left side in his final start of the regular season. Cox bumped up Mike Hampton to pitch on Thursday, giving Thomson an extra two days of rest before the series resumes in Houston.
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