Youngsters give Braves option to trade Justice Dye, Jones may not be ready, but Atlanta needs money for Smoltz; NLCS notebook


ATLANTA -- There are two ways to look at the performances of rookies Jermaine Dye and Andruw Jones for the Atlanta Braves in last night's 15-0 demolition of the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series.

Either they're a big part of the team's future, or last night was an interesting way to showcase their talents as trade bait. After what they did against the Cardinals, look for Dye and Jones to be here for a while.

They each had singles in the Braves' six-run first inning that put the champagne, if not the game, on ice. Jones, the 19-year-old from Curacao, had his first three hits of the postseason, including a monster two-run homerin the sixth.

But much of their future will be decided by what the Braves do with injured right fielder David Justice.

Dye, 22, was called up in May when Justice was lost for the season with a dislocated shoulder. Dye hit .281 with 12 home runs and 37 RBIs in 98 games. He also struck out 67 times in 292 at-bats.

Jones, 19, was added to the roster in August after jumping from Class A Durham to Double-A Greenville to Triple-A Richmond in two months. Though he hit .217 in 106 at-bats, he is viewed by most in the organization as a future star.

What the Braves will do in the off-season with Justice will determine what they do with Dye and Jones. Obviously, because of their ages, they still can be reserves next season. But not for long.

"We're really blessed with those two kids," Braves general manager John Schuerholz said.

Neither Dye nor Jones had lit up St. Louis pitching until last night. Dye entered the game hitting .206 (7-for-34). But the seven hits knocked in four runs. Jones, starting in place of Ryan Klesko against left-hander Donovan Osborne, was hitless in seven at-bats before Game 7.

Asked what it felt like to see his name on the lineup card starting in Game 7, Jones said, "It's a big thing. I never thought I'd be in that situation."

Rookie gets start at 1B

The Cardinals made one lineup change, putting 22-year-old switch-hitting rookie Dmitri Young in at first base in place of left-handed John Mabry to face left-hander Tom Glavine.

Young had had 30 previous major-league at-bats when his triple in Game 4 sparked the team's 4-3 comeback victory. Young has power, something St. Louis has been noticeably lacking since winning Game 4 on Brian Jordan's home run.

After winning Game 2 on Gary Gaetti's grand slam, Game 3 on Ron Gant's two home runs and Game 4 on Jordan's homer, the Cardinals produced 19 hits, 17 of them singles.

Young went 0-for-3, striking out once. Before the game, La Russa said he wouldn't be disappointed if the Cardinals lost "as long as we gave it our best shot." La Russa said winning the Central Division and Division Series was an accomplishment.

The embarrassing blowouts in games 5 and 7 -- the Cardinals lost 14-0 in Game 5 -- has to take some of the glow off the franchise, which extended its dubious record of losing series in which they led 3-1.

Mabry has local roots

Mabry, who turned 25 yesterday, has his baseball roots in Baltimore. Growing up in Cecil County, Mabry played for amateur powerhouse Johnny's under longtime coach Walter Youse, a scout for the Milwaukee Brewers.

Selected in the sixth round of the 1991 free-agent draft after his junior year at West Chester University, Mabry moved up the Cardinals' chain steadily. After two September call-ups in 1993 and 1994, Mabry hit .307 in 129 games last year and .297 in 151 this year. He also had 13 home runs and 74 RBIs this season.

Mabry, whose family still lives in Warwick, was disappointed to see the Orioles lose in the American League Championship Series. But it would have prevented some huge conflicts of interest had the Cardinals advanced to play the Yankees.

"My family are huge Cal Ripken fans," he said.

Pub Date: 10/18/96

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