KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) - Adam LaRoche got to have a little fun against his former team. For Mike Gonzalez, it was a rude reunion.
After being swapped for each other during the offseason, LaRoche
and Gonzalez quickly faced their old teams when the Atlanta Braves
defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-to-4 in a ten-inning spring training game Friday.
LaRoche went 0-for-2 -- including an amusing at-bat against good friend John Smoltz -- while Gonzalez gave up a two-run homer to
Pittsburgh behemoth Brad Eldred in the sixth inning.
LaRoche, who had 32 homers and 90 R-B-I's for the Braves last season, was greeted by a steady stream of ex-teammates when he emerged from the visiting dugout at Disney's Wide World of Sports before the game.
Leading off the second, LaRoche knew that Smoltz was planning to have some fun. The Atlanta starter didn't disappoint, skipping a knuckleball in the dirt that forced the left-handed hitter to jump out of the way. Then, calling for a new ball, Smoltz fired the one he had close to LaRoche's head while throwing it back to the umpire.
Both players had a good laugh after LaRoche grounded out to second.
Smoltz said -- quote -- "I told him the first pitch would be a knuckleball, then I would challenge him. I lied. I threw him a change on the second pitch. Of course, he probably won't remember what I said."
Gonzalez, who was perfect in 24 save chances for the Pirates a year ago, had a rough inning in his first appearance with the Braves. He walked leadoff hitter Nate McLouth, then gave up a wind-aided homer to the 6-foot-5, 274-pound Eldred on a 2-and-0 pitch. Gonzalez also surrendered a single before getting out of the inning.
Smoltz was overpowering in his two-inning stint. He gave up a triple when Jeff Francoeur failed to make a diving catch in right, but had three strikeouts and threw only four balls in 23 pitches.
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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