Word - First-to-worst

Leo Mazzone anyone?

Anybody else want Leo Mazzone back as the Atlanta Braves pitching coach? Since his departure in the off-season, the pitching staff under Roger McDowell has been a shambles. Braves pitchers have allowed opposing batters a .276 average, third worst in the National League. And the staff ERA of 4.73 is the 12th worst. As of press time, the bullpen had blown 15 of 31 save opportunities. Of course, his new staff in Baltimore (which comes to town Friday for a three-game series) has an overall ERA of 5.19, next to last in the American League. It all goes to show: Sometimes you should leave well enough alone.

"I've been with him longer than anybody, and he's helped me a lot. But people on the inside understand. Maybe not from the outside; people on the outside think there is a huge void to fill. It's not a huge void. ... Whoever comes to Atlanta, I think, will be coming into a great opportunity. I don't see it as huge shoes to fill."

-- John Smoltz to the AJC last October. His record so far this year is 4-5 with a 3.89 ERA, his worst since 1994.

"I think it will be a little more fun in the bullpen area. It's going to be about learning how to pitch and having fun while you're doing it, not so much walking on eggshells down there. ... Roger's great. All the young guys really have taken up with him. He's real personable. Leo obviously did a great job here, and the results speak for themselves. But when a guy has a reputation like that, it's hard for the young guys not to be intimidated by it. Roger's a little more approachable."

-- Tim Hudson to The Sporting News in March. His record so far this year is 6-7 with a 4.27 ERA, the worst of his career.

"Different style, different leader. But I still think our pitching will be as effective and as successful."

-- General Manager John Schuerholz to the AJC when McDowell was hired as pitching coach last October.