Braves Keep Striving, Deal For Ward

Though they rank eighth in the National League wild-card race, the Braves haven’t given up hope of making the playoffs for the 15th consecutive season. They added to their bench on Thursday by acquiring Daryle Ward from the Nationals for Class A righthander Luis Atilano.

The 31-year-old Ward’s calling card always has been his power. He was productive in a reserve role for Washington this year, hitting .308/.390/.567 with six homers and 19 RBIs in 104 at-bats over 78 appearances. He was acquired on the last day players could change teams and still be eligible for the postseason. At 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds, he doesn’t do much on the bases or defensively in the outfield or at first base. Making $700,000 this season, Ward will be eligible for free agency afterward. He’s a career .262/.313/.445 hitter with 82 homers and 336 RBIs in 760 games.

Atilano, a 21-year-old Puerto Rican, was Atlanta’s top pick (supplemental first round) in the 2003 draft. He had Tommy John surgery this summer and won’t take the mound again until mid-2007 at the earliest. Atilano threw in the low 90s before his elbow began bothering him. He went 6-7, 4.50 in 19 games (18 starts) at high Class A Myrtle Beach before he got hurt. In 116 innings, he had a 45-27 K-BB ratio, .298 opponent average and 16 homers allowed.

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