Most baseball clubs don't usually play a game with just 24 players on the active roster. If I had to make and educated guess I'd say all the teams do. However, the Atlanta Braves are the rare exception. With Greg Norton on the bench for the Braves the team is always playing a game one man short thanks to the sorry excuse he calls a bat!
Last year Norton was a God-send. Racking up the most pinch hits behind fellow pinch hitter extraordinaire, Greg Dobbs. So much so that on December 19th, 2008, Braves General Manager Frank Wren gave him a 1-year contract (financial terms were not disclosed).
Since the start of 2001 he leads all major leaguers with 13 pinch hit home runs but has absolutely none this year. The Braves are essentially paying someone to just pinch him but in Norton's case to warm the bench. His numbers this year: 50 AB, just 6 hits 13K's to 10 BB's and just 4 RBI's. Ri-di-cu-lous!
I have my theory as to why Greg Norton is still on the team. A) Bobby Cox is loyal to a fault. Norton performed for him last year and Bobby will always remember that. But this is a game of "What have you done for me lately?" and lately...nothing much. B) He's being given one last shot at staying with the club. When Hudson returns it's assumed it will be a pitcher getting sent down...It'll either be Boone Logan (who's been decent) or Manny Acosta (who when he throws strikes is filthy). But when Omar Infante comes back I have a growing fear it will be Diory Hernandez (who hasn't done much of anything but then again no one has asked him to come up with key hits in key situations). That'll still leave Norton on the team.
However, I think we will see Norton continue to get AB's until Cox has had enough (I can't imagine why he hasn't thus far). Brooks Conrad deserves a shot to stay up with the big league team and show what he's got. In just 32 AB's Conrad has it .344 with 2 HR's, 2 3B's, 1 2B, and 8 RBI's. And played steady defense on the field when he did play (something Norton can't say because he's only started, what? Two times maybe?).
The time has come for Norton to be released and Conrad called up. Norton feels like a dead weight while Conrad is all hustle, gritty and loves to get his uniform dirty. Once Norton wins us at least 4 games with just his bat alone...ah forget it...he's failed too much this season that he's easily cost us more than 4 games!
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