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Pair of aces: Braves' winning hand

By KEVIN KELLY, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 23, 2002

They are 36 years old going on timeless.

"People don't really realize what they're seeing," Atlanta pitching coach Leo Mazzone said. "They'll only realize it when they're gone."

Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine have anchored the Braves' starting rotation for nine-plus seasons and are finessing their way up some impressive lists.

"So much of what we have done, people pay attention to on an individual basis," said Glavine, who led the majors with a 1.68 ERA through Friday. "Sometimes we don't take the time to look at some of the stuff we've done collectively."

With one more win by either pitcher they will become the 22nd tandem since 1920 and first since Nolan Ryan and Kevin Brown in 1993 to reach 500 career wins combined with 100 or more of those while teammates. Maddux has 264 career wins to Glavine's 235.

They are 331-148 since Maddux signed with the Braves as a free agent in 1993. Only Warren Spahn and Lew Burdette (443 in 13 seasons for the Braves), Gaylord Perry and Juan Marichal (336 in 10 for the Giants) and Early Wynn and Bob Lemon (335 in nine for the Indians) have won more as teammates since 1920.

"I always wondered how these guys get people out," Braves first baseman Julio Franco said. "Now playing behind them, I can see the strategy, the mentality, the attitude. How each and every pitch they throw, they're worrying about the next pitch. It's like, "Here's the bait. I'll get you next time.' "

LOOKING AHEAD: The White Sox were one of seven AL teams with a .500 record or better through Thursday, but that didn't include any games against the Central-leading Twins.

Chicago won 28 of its first 49 games this season and had gone 8-16 since, but only trailed the Twins by four games. The first of 19 scheduled games between the clubs is Monday at the Metrodome.

"If we would have been playing against them the way we were playing, or if they would have been able to take advantage of the way we have been playing, we would be in a lot deeper hole than this," infielder Tony Graffanino said. "We are lucky we have all those games left against them."

The Twins won 14 of 19 against Chicago last season, including the first eight.

"Hopefully it won't be anything like that this year," Graffanino said.

A FAMILIAR VOICE: In town for a series against Cincinnati last week, Mariners manager Lou Piniella got a surprise call from Marge Schott at the team hotel.

Piniella managed the Reds from 1990-92 but left the organization after Schott, who since was ordered to sell all but a half-share of the team she once owned, presented a less-than-adequate contract offer.

"We talked 15 to 20 minutes and I was very appreciative," Piniella said. "I really enjoyed the conversation. It made me feel good.

"We talked about families and the three years we had together."

WORTH THE WAIT: Alan Zinter got his first big-league call-up last week when the Astros promoted him from Triple-A New Orleans.

Why's that noteworthy? Zinter spent 14 seasons in the minor leagues.

"When they told me," the 34-year-old said, "I went totally numb."

The catcher/first baseman was a first-round pick of the Mets in 1989 and has been cut in major-league spring training camp in 10 of his professional seasons. He batted .435 with five homers and 10 RBIs with the Astros this spring.

"We talked last year about calling him up," said Houston general manager Gerry Hunsicker, who was with the Mets when Zinter was chosen with the 24th pick in 1989.

"This is just a kid that worked very hard."

ODDS AND ENDS: The Dodgers opened their first Dodger Dogs diner last week near Universal Studios in Los Angeles. The restaurant will offer the famous grilled dogs along with peanuts, Cracker Jack and game tickets. ... Joseph Ladd is such a big fan of Indians reliever Bob Wickman that he's started a Web site (wickmanswarriors.com) and fan club. Wickman-themed T-shirts are available on the Web site and all proceeds go to Cleveland Indians Charities. ... Ron Jernick has had one of the most important and scrutinized jobs during Luis Castillo's hitting streak. The retired detective from Long Island is in his third season as the Marlins' primary official scorer. "You call them as you see them," Jernick said. "You can't worry about streaks, can't worry about stats, can't worry about what anybody is going to think about it."

THE LAST WORD: "They thought when they built the stadium they'd be good for the first three years. The fans aren't dumb. They'll tell you that it looks like a minor-league team." -- Doug Gottwein, who has worked as a beer vendor at Brewers games for the past 10 seasons and expects to make $2,000 to $3,000 less in sales this season because of the sharp drop in attendance at Miller Park.

-- Information from other news organizations was used in this report.

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