"He knew that if he came up here and had two or three bad outings in a row, that'd probably be it," says lefthander John Rocker, who is now Atlanta's closer. "He knew what he did in spring was all well and fine, but it didn't matter. He had to prove it in the games that counted."
Unfortunately for the Braves, he didn't. Cox had hoped that Wohlers, who will make $5.2 million in this, the third year of a three-year deal, could win back his job after last year's closer, righthander Kerry Ligtenberg, was sidelined for 1999 with torn ligaments in his elbow. Now Atlanta has five pitchers in the bullpen with less than two years major league experience, including Rocker, who was a rookie in '98.
For those close to Wohlers, however, the bullpen isn't the only concern. "I don't care whether Mark lives up to everyone's expectations," says righthander John Smoltz. "He's been a teammate of mine for a long time. You just hope for the best."
Orlando Palmeiro's Dinger
An Angel Takes Flight
Angels fans worried about a drop-off in run production with sluggers Mo Vaughn and Jim Edmonds on the disabled list, take heart: Orlando Palmeiro is heating up. The 30-year-old Palmeiro, a .281 hitter over four seasons with Anaheim, got his first hit of the year last Friday night, a leadoff homer against Rangers righthander John Burkett. It was Palmiero's first tater in 415 career at bats, meaning he is no longer the active player with the most homerless at bats. The title now rests with Cardinals shortstop Luis Ordaz, who, through Sunday, hadn't homered in 177 at bats.
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