Notes: Hubbard's work draws praise

Notes: Hubbard's work draws praise

ATLANTA -- Throughout the offseason, when they were targeting Kelly Johnson to serve as their starting second baseman, the Braves possessed a confidence that was created by the remarkable work Glenn Hubbard had done with Marcus Giles.

As Braves general manager John Schuerholz remembers, there was a time when "Marcus couldn't catch a cold." But Hubbard worked diligently with Giles at Class A Macon in 1999, and by the time the 2003 season ended, the young second baseman had become a Major League All-Star with Gold Glove potential.

"I think if Hubby can turn me into an average second baseman, compared to where I was in the Minors, he could probably turn you guys [in the media] into a pretty good second baseman," Giles said as he and his Padres teammates prepared for Monday night's series opener against the Braves at Turner Field.

Johnson is certainly a better athlete than the media members that Giles was speaking to on Monday. But he had never previously played second base and thus it has been remarkable to see him evolve into a dependable defender, who has committed just one error in his first 141 chances of the year.

"Kelly Johnson has been brilliant there," said Braves manager Bobby Cox, who last week said his new second baseman was playing the position as well as Hall of Famer Bill Mazeroski once did.

Having seen what Hubbard, who was a sure-handed second baseman in Atlanta from 1978-87, has done with both Giles and Johnson, Cox thinks it's time people realize the importance of his current first-base coach.

"I think Glenn's name never gets mentioned, but it certainly needs to be," Cox said. "He turned them into really great second basemen."

Because Giles' cost was beginning to surpass the offensive value he was providing, the Braves opted to not re-sign him after last season. He says that he understands it was a business decision that has given him the opportunity to play in his hometown of San Diego and with his older brother, Brian, who is a Padres outfielder.

"About the biggest thing I do miss over here is Hubby," Giles said. "Just having him there to remind me of the tips of how to play defense and the room service [batting practice] that he throws, I kind of miss that, too."

Renteria ill: When Edgar Renteria awoke on Monday morning, he was feeling the effects of some flu-like symptoms that were still present during the afternoon hours. Thus, he was held out of Monday night's starting lineup and his current 15-game hitting streak was put on hold.

Chris Woodward replaced Renteria at shortstop and moved left fielder Willie Harris up to the second spot in the batting order. Entering Monday, Harris had recorded two-hit performances in each of the three previous games that he'd started.

Humorous Maddux: After five minutes back in Greg Maddux's presence, one is reminded of just how funny the legendary hurler's dry wit really is. Before Monday night's game, the longtime former Brave spoke about a number of topics, including Wednesday night's matchup against his good friend, John Smoltz. It will be the first time they've faced each other since 1992.

Maddux, who won three Cy Young Awards while pitching in Atlanta from 1993-2003, was well aware of the fact that Cox has moved very close to the record for most managerial ejections.

During the seventh inning of Sunday's game, Cox was tossed by third-base umpire Bob Davidson for arguing a checked swing call that went against Chipper Jones. It was his 128th career ejection, moving him to within three of the record held by John McGraw.

"I was trying to think of how many times I actually got him kicked out," Maddux said. "I can think of one. I was pretty good, I think I only caused one. I feel pretty good about that. I know [Tom Glavine] got him a lot. Smoltzie got him a few times. ... At least I played a part in it."

Truth be told, Cox isn't too excited to talk about his career ejection total. And appropriately, there should be just as much attention aimed at the fact that entering Monday, he was just four wins away from tying Sparky Anderson for fifth place on the all-time managerial wins list.

"It's a little bit embarrassing," Cox said of the ejection total. "I've been in the game a long time, so you're going to have a lot."

Chipper remembers Maddux: When Jones turned a swinging bunt into his first career base hit on Sept. 14, 1993, he knew he was in trouble when the ball was thrown back into the dugout and into the hands of the always ornery Maddux.

When Jones returned the dugout, he wasn't too surprised to find that Maddux had placed some of his nasal contents on the baseball.

Now that Maddux has evolved into one of the greatest pitchers ever, Jones regrets his decision to remove the snot that was on the memorable keepsake.

"If I had known then what I know now, I probably would have kept it on there," Jones said.

Coming up: At the start of Monday's game, the Braves and Padres hadn't officially announced who will start Tuesday's 7:35 p.m. ET matchup. The Braves are expected to go with righty Anthony Lerew and the Padres with righty Justin Germano.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.