Braves' Brooks Conrad tries to move on

By Dave Sheinin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 12, 2010; 12:23 AM

ATLANTA - Tne night after his three errors sent the Atlanta Braves to a brutal loss and ensured his name would live forever in postseason infamy, Brooks Conrad tried hard to make Monday night feel like any other night at the ballpark. He signed autographs down the right field line in exchange for an outpouring of support from the fans. He fielded grounders during batting practice and did not appear to kick very many away.

"The sun came up again today," Conrad said prior to Game 4 of the division series, "and we're here in the playoffs, playing baseball. And you can't beat that."

From a practical standpoint, however, plenty had changed. The Braves were facing elimination Monday night, and Conrad was benched for Game 4 - replaced in the lineup by veteran Troy Glaus, playing third base, with Omar Infante shifting from third to second.

"He needs a day off," said Braves Manager Bobby Cox, who spoke at length with Conrad on Monday morning. "He needs to get away from it for a day. . . . I told him to hold his head high, and [be ready to] pinch-hit and win a game for us."

Conrad described the talk with Cox as a "good" one, and said, "Hopefully I'll put it to good use and start playing better."

The Braves have been reluctant to use Glaus, 33, at third base - he has played only three innings there all season, including the 10th inning in Game 2, when he entered as part of a double-switch and wound up starting a critical 5-4-3 double play. But Cox appeared to have few other options after Conrad's nightmarish performance in Game 3.

"I played there a long time, so I definitely know what to expect," Glaus said. "I'm not concerned with making any of the plays. It's just a matter of getting into the rhythm of the game."

Glaus, who has been hampered by knee and ankle injuries this season, last played third base regularly in 2008. Eric Hinske, another option, last played there regularly in 2004. The Braves are carrying a utility infielder, Diory Hernandez, on their roster, but he has hit just .138 in 103 plate appearances over the past two seasons, and the Braves are desperate for offense.

AL series returns to night

The Rangers and Rays will conclude their five-game series Tuesday night with an 8:07 p.m. official start, a welcome change for players who played consecutive day games. One player, Rangers outfielder Jeff Francoeur, said the teams "got hosed" for having to begin Game 4 at 12:07 p.m. Central Time on Sunday in Arlington, Texas.

"We're used to playing a day game every once in a while, but to keep playing day game after day game after day game - I thought 4 o'clock on Saturday was fine," Francoeur said. "I thought we got hosed [Sunday], to be honest with you, with a 12 o'clock start time in the playoffs. You shouldn't have that, I don't think. I think that's something that needs to change. It's still the playoffs and you're going to get up, but it's still 12 o'clock. And for baseball guys, I guarantee there will be at least five or six people on this team that won't be up before 12 o'clock tomorrow."

The issue of small-market teams such as Tampa Bay and Texas playing in daylight has long been something to grumble about - ask the Houston Astros of the mid-1990s. But the issue is not likely to go away, and Francoeur understands that.

"I don't think it's so much disrespect," Francoeur said. "We get it. I played in New York this year for the Mets for five months and we played Sunday night baseball four out of the first six weeks. I get the thing, they're going to give it to New York, they're going to give it to Philly and that stuff. But it will be nice to play a night game."

- Adam Kilgore

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