ATLANTA - The Atlanta Braves were peeved to learn that another Sunday game was switched to an evening start.
Their July 22 game against the St. Louis Cardinals has been changed to 8:05 p.m. instead of the usual 1:05 start to accommodate an ESPN national telecast. It was the third time a Braves game has been moved this season.
It will be Atlanta's fourth appearance on the cable network in a seven-week period, but this is one time the Braves wound prefer to be the Not Ready For Prime Time Players. They will head out right after the game for a West Coast road trip, which starts the following night in San Francisco.
"Somebody's just not using their heads," manager Bobby Cox said before Tuesday night's game against the Washington Nationals. "Why don't they just look at the schedule once in a while and say, 'You know, there's just as good a game somewhere else?"'
Jeff Francoeur, the Braves' union representative, called the players' association to lodge a complaint but there's nothing it can do. While the labor agreement does require an off day when a team is traveling from the Pacific to Eastern time zones, there's nothing that covers a trip in the opposite direction.
"We're not happy about this," Francoeur said.
Cox said he has to take extra precautions after his team makes such a long trip.
"You're hands swell up because of the time and no sleep," the manager said. "You think about your bullpen guys that go that night."
ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz said the Braves knew all along that the switch was a possibility.
"Our goal is to serve the audience with the best possible matchup, and all teams have been aware of the potential games for this national game-of-the-week window for months," Krulewitz said.