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             !!!NEWS FLASH!!!
 

             ROCKER GETS ROCKED BY BRAVES

                  John Rocker was sent down to the Minor Leagues on
                  Monday, one day after a threatening conversation with a Sports
                  Illustrated reporter.

                  Rocker, who has struggled with his
                  control since returning from a two-week
                  suspension for the remarks in a
                  December article, was optioned to the
                  Braves' Triple-A club in Richmond.

                  Rocker also was fined "a substantial
                  amount" for the confrontation with
                  reporter Jeff Pearlman, said manager
                  Bobby Cox.

                  Cox insisted Rocker's demotion was
                  unrelated to the confrontation and was
                  because of the reliever's inability to
                  throw strikes.

                  Rocker has 10 saves since rejoining the
                  team May 18 but also has struggled
                  with his control, issuing 25 walks in 18
                  1/3 innings. His ERA is 3.85.

                  The Braves called up 21-year-old
                  pitcher Jason Marquis from Double-A
                  Greenville to replace Rocker.

                  "This is something that's been brewing
                  for a while," Cox said. "We've been
                  bailing him out. It couldn't go on like
                  that forever."

                  Pearlman, in Atlanta to do a story on
                  the Braves playing the New York
                  Yankees in a rematch of last year's
                  World Series, met up with Rocker in a
                  service tunnel near the clubhouse about
                  two hours before the final game of the
                  series.

                  General manager John Schuerholz declined to discuss the incident,
                  but issued a statement saying team officials "immediately began to
                  address the matter internally and are continuing to do so."

                  Rocker's teammates were clearly disturbed by the latest outburst.

                  "You've got one guy being a cancer time and time again," said
                  outfielder Brian Jordan, who has been one of Rocker's most vocal
                  critics. "Eventually, it's going to have an effect on the team."

                  Rocker, who has struggled this season after 38 saves a year ago,
                  pitched a scoreless ninth inning against the Yankees. The first two
                  hitters singled and moved up a base when Rocker was called for a
                  balk. But he escaped trouble by getting Chuck Knoblauch on a
                  popup and Derek Jeter on a flyout.

                  The Yankees won 7-6.

                  After Rocker's comments in a December issue of SI, the team called
                  together about a half-dozen players to discuss what action should
                  be taken with Rocker. The consensus was to give him another
                  chance.

                  "Obviously, it hasn't worked," said Jordan, adding that he expects
                  management to call another meeting soon to discuss Rocker's
                  conduct.

                  Pearlman said it was the first time he has spoken with Rocker since
                  the December article.

                  "I think his anger is misdirected," Pearlman said. "I really do feel
                  bad for the guy. I feel bad for his family. It was not my intent to
                  do that kind of story."
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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