Braves' Cox talks Heyward, retirement

This spring, even a future Hall of Fame manager is not immune from "Hey" fever.

At an Atlanta Press Club luncheon Wednesday, Braves manager Bobby Cox shared in the excitement over rookie right fielder Jason Heyward's heroics, which included Tuesday's game-tying home run in the bottom of the ninth in the team's win over Philadelphia.

Recounting the game, Cox asked, "Did anybody think Jason Heyward would not tie the game up?"

Sharing the podium with another Atlanta sports icon, former Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Furman Bisher, Cox spun yarns, fielded questions and talked a little more about Heyward for the roughly 120 gathered at the Commerce Club.

Cox called the team's chemistry "really good" and cited Heyward as the main reason.

"Young kid, 20 years old, full of energy and talent," he said. "It really is energizing to have somebody like that for the veterans, to have someone come along and help immediately."

A bestower of nicknames, Cox said he doesn't call Heyward "J-Hey," which is becoming his handle, but simply "Hey."

As in, "‘Hey,' do it again," said Cox, who wore a gray sports coat, dark slacks, and a blue dress shirt with a navy and white polka-dot tie.

Cox explained how he intended to play college football before being offered a signing bonus to play baseball, how he grew up in a small California farming town of about 800 and was discovered by a scout who happened to be in town and saw Cox's team play. He also explained why the Braves' winning record under him has led to his being ejected from more games than any other manager in major league history.

"If we lose 10 in a row, you're not going to see more arguing," Cox said. "That's true and that's not the umpire's fault. I've always felt you argue more when you're winning."

Other Cox tidbits:

On the possibility of John Smoltz returning to pitch again: "John is still staying in shape, ready for that call, but I think he's happy with what he's doing right now [broadcasting for TBS and MLB Network]. If that call doesn't come, he'll be just fine."

On being wooed back into managing after retiring at the end of the season: "I'm not going to pull a Brett Favre or Michael Jordan and un-retire."

On his first start as a Yankee at Yankee Stadium: "I can tell you I almost pulled a muscle during the national anthem. My first start, I went up on my toes like that [Cox stood up on his toes] and I cramped. And I thought, ‘Oh, my god, I'm not going to be able to play.'"

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