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Cox confident in struggling Norton


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Greg Norton has had a miserable season as the Braves’ primary pinch hitter, but Wednesday night’s fruitless at-bat against the Marlins might have been a new low.

Norton, who is hitting only .147 (10-for-68) on the season, had a chance to tie the game in the seventh inning with a runner at third and only one out. Instead of finding a way to get the run in, he struck out against rookie reliever Tim Wood. The Braves lost 8-7.

Norton took an awkward swing at a 2-1 change-up, getting fooled on what he said looked like a sinker rotation out of Wood’s hand. Then with two strikes, Wood had the advantage. Norton struck out chasing a change-up in the dirt.

“The disappointing thing — and I alluded to it earlier this year — the whole pinch-hitting thing isn’t what your batting average is, which people seem to look at it,” Norton said. “It’s how many big hits you have. I was in a situation last night where going home, I felt like I lost the game.”

Braves manager Bobby Cox has come under fire by some fans for sticking by Norton. That chorus has grown louder this road trip since with September call-ups giving Cox more options on the bench, such as Brooks Conrad and David Ross, now that Clint Sammons can back Ross as the third catcher.

But Cox said he still has confidence in Norton, a veteran pinch hitter whose 13 career pinch-hit home runs rank 11th all-time. Norton led the majors last season in pinch-hit RBIs (18), pinch-hit homers (3) and pinch-hit walks (17).

“He’s been hitting some balls really good,” Cox said, referring to Norton’s single off reliever Matt Lindstrom on Tuesday night. “That kid [Wednesday] night has got great stuff, but you don’t know where it’s going. He made two great pitches on [Norton]. He would have made anybody look funny.”

Norton has only six pinch-hit RBIs this year and only 10 hits overall. When it was pointed out that Norton’s batting average wasn’t good, Cox said, “No, but he’s hit some balls good, but he’s still productive.”

All but eight of Norton’s at-bats this season have come as a pinch hitter, which makes it difficult to establish much rhythm at the plate, but Norton is not in position to complain about playing time — and wouldn’t anyway.

“I think it’s everybody’s dream to play for a manager like Bobby,” Norton said. “Because he’s stuck with me, I don’t know if the right words would be ‘feel bad,’ but I just wish that not only for him, but the team, that I’d come through a couple more times.”


If that bolded part doesn't make you rage, something is wrong...

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i can't stand Norton. Seeing Bobby say that, frustrates me even more. Norton does not deserve to be the everday pinch-hitter, he hasn't deserved it since like June. Honestly, every time Norton comes up to pinchhit and there are runners on base, even if there aren't runners on base, he has like a 97% fail rate. When pitchers have better batting averages than you, you are horrible.

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