0

Braves 'buyers not sellers'

ATLANTA - Bobby Cox didn't hesitate when asked Saturday how the Atlanta Braves will approach the July 31 trade deadline.

'We are buyers, not sellers,' Cox said. 'We are trying ... anything to improve our club.'

The Braves entered Saturday 61/2 games out of first place in the NL East. General manager Frank Wren said he is still focused on trying to improve the team for this season.

'Right now we are,' Wren said. 'Right now we've all got to be realistic. We're sitting in a position where we've got to play better baseball in the second half to continue to stay in this thing. So as long as we're in it, we'll be buyers.

'But I think once it's a situation where we need to start looking toward '09, then we'll do what's best for the organization.'

Braves CEO and chairman Terry McGuirk said Liberty Media, which bought the team from Time Warner last year, has not been involved in management decisions at the trade deadline.

'Oh, no, no, no, no,' McGuirk said. 'They don't get involved with that.

'The buck stops with this management team.'

Braves players have said the team's first nine games after the All-Star break - all against NL East teams - could influence the team's stance at the trade deadline.

'We're only 61/2 back,' Cox said before Saturday night's game against Washington. 'You don't give up that fast. You keep going.'

The Braves may face a tough decision with first baseman Mark Teixeira, who can be a high-priced free agent after the season.

The Braves acquired Teixeira from Texas at last year's trade deadline for five players, including top prospects Jarrod Saltalamacchia, a switch-hitting catcher, shortstop Elvis Andrus and left-handed pitcher Matt Harrison, who has made two starts for the Rangers this year.

Wren could have difficulty receiving comparable value in a trade for Teixeira, who is hitting .272 with 17 homers and a team-leading 69 RBIs. The Braves could keep Teixeira the rest of the season, even if they can't afford to re-sign him, if they remain within reach of first place.

Soriano close

Right-hander Rafael Soriano threw in the bullpen without discomfort on Saturday. Wren said Soriano, who opened the season as the closer, is scheduled to come off the disabled list on Monday.

Soriano has had discomfort in his right elbow since spring training. He has pitched in only nine games, recording three saves with a 2.00 ERA.

Soriano has been on the disabled list twice this season with the sore elbow. He has missed 35 games since going on the DL for the second time on June 6.

'He says it is (better),' Wren said. 'He says he feels good.'

Mike Gonzalez has four saves and a 3.09 ERA as the fill-in closer and could share the role with Soriano.

Glavine throws

Tom Glavine said he was encouraged after throwing off the bullpen mound Saturday for the first time since landing on the disabled list with a strained left elbow on June 11.

Glavine said he threw about 40 pitches at about 60-percent effort and said 'it went all right.' He said he tried all his pitches.

'I actually threw pretty good, which I was kind of surprised about since I hadn't thrown in six weeks,' he said.

Glavine plans to take a couple days off before throwing again.