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Dawn of a new season
Braves begin camp; will it be Cox's last?

KISSIMMEE, Fla. - For the 49th straight time, Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox is attending spring training.

He's not the same strapping young man who started his career as an infielder in 1960 in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization. In fact, he's about to turn 67 and last year broke the record for getting ejected from the most games in major league baseball history.

But he looks right at home in the Atlanta Braves clubhouse at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex.

He tried to walk away from the dugout one time, back in 1985 when he left the Toronto Blue Jays to take over as the Braves' general manager. Five years later he was back and hasn't left since, although speculation is running rampant around camp that this may be the year Cox calls it quits.

Cox isn't saying anything, only that he's looking forward to starting another season with a deeper pitching staff and a solid bullpen, but he said that spring training hasn't lost its charm.

'I am not ready to walk away yet,' Cox said. 'I've been to a lot of them and they are all about the same, but I still get up for it. I don't know when it will end, but I am going to leave everything open.'

He said the only thing bothering him about camp this year is the non-stop talk about steroid and HGH abuse.

'We have a great testing system in place,' Cox said. 'You just can't test for HGH like you can for steroids. I think we are all tired of it.'

The most animated Cox got on the first two days of training was talking about the haircuts of some of his pitchers who arrived with Mohawks. Cox was never a Mohawk kind of guy.

He talks golf and NASCAR and, unless you notice the tomahawk across his chest, he blends in with the media.

Even though he's managed the Braves since 1990, he said he is more excited about this year than previous springs.

'I have (Tom) Glavine, Smoltzie (John Smoltz), and we almost had Mad Dog (Greg Maddux) come back,' Cox said. 'It's always exciting but everybody says that this time of year.'

After more than of decade of working at Cox's side, John Schuerholz has moved from general manager to team president. Frank Wren, the new general manager has been around the Braves for eight years, and he and Cox have a strong relationship.

Wren told reporters during the off-season that the Braves don't plan to hire anyone as the manager-in-training, waiting to take over after Cox is finished.

Cox doesn't plan to manage forever, but there's still the nagging problem of getting his second world championship ring. He won the first in 1995 and the Braves have failed in the playoffs ever since. They haven't even gone in the past two years, after 14 straight division titles.

Notes

Glavine made his first appearance in a Braves uniform since 2002. He arrived a little after 7 a.m. and was the first player to arrive. 'It feels a little strange, but it's a comfortable feeling," Glavine said before a hoard of media members crowded around his locker. I can still pitch and that's why I am here.'... Newcomer Will Ohman is expected to add depth to the bullpen. He had no harsh words for his former team, the Chicago Cubs, but said he is looking forward to a new beginning in Atlanta. He pitched in 56 games for the Cubs with a 2-4 record and a 4.95 ERA last season.