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Glaus adjusting well to first base
glaus pic

KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Troy Glaus is making his move from third base to first base look easy.

Now the Atlanta Braves just want to see him stay on the field from April to October.

Glaus, a third baseman most of his 11-year career, is launching a new phase of his career as a full-time first baseman. He has played only six games in his career at his new position but was signed by the Braves to replace Adam LaRoche.

The 33-year-old Glaus has looked comfortable in the field and in batting practice during the first week of spring training. But the most important positive sign is his good health.

Glaus had a slow recovery from right shoulder surgery in January 2009. He played in only 14 games late last season with St. Louis before signing a one-year, $1.75 million deal with the Braves. He also missed most of the 2004 season with a shoulder problem and was hampered by foot injuries in 2007, when he was limited to 115 games with Toronto.

When asked Thursday if there has been any health concern with Glaus this spring, manager Bobby Cox said "None. Absolutely no restrictions on anything. Just a little common sense, that's all."

Glaus said his shoulder feels strong.

"I feel good," he said. "The thing about it now is to get up to speed and get the game going at the right pace."

When healthy, Glaus has been productive. The Braves, only 22nd in the majors with 149 homers in 2009, need more power. Glaus has hit 27 or more homers in eight of his 11 seasons. He led the American League with 47 homers with the Angels in 2000 and added 41 the next season.

In 2008, Glaus hit .270 with 27 homers and 99 RBIs for St. Louis. The homer and RBI totals would have been team highs for the Braves in 2008 and 2009.

The right-handed hitting Glaus should be a good fit in the middle of the Braves' lineup, especially against right-handed pitchers.

Last year, switch-hitting Chipper Jones and Brian McCann were back-to-back lefties against right-handers. Cox hasn't revealed his lineup, but many players project Glaus hitting fourth between Jones and McCann.

"He'd make things tough on the opposing manager to bring in specialists to get us out of the game," Jones said. "You like to be versatile in the middle of the lineup and he gives us the best versatility through the three, four and five hole."

That sounds good to Glaus.

"Look, I'll bat wherever Bobby wants me to hit," Glaus said. "Obviously I'd like to earn that spot and feel that Bobby and everybody is comfortable with me hitting there."

McCann, who led the team with 21 homers and 94 RBIs as the cleanup hitter last season, said he hopes to hit fifth, behind Glaus.

"When Troy is healthy, you look at what he's done," McCann said. "He produces year in and year out when he's healthy. He's still young. We expect him to have a good year hitting behind Chipper and in front of me. It makes for a great lineup."

The Braves hope rookie right fielder Jason Heyward, already causing a stir with his long homers in batting practice, will be another new power threat in the lineup.

The Braves say they aren't worried about Glaus learning his new position.

"Troy is a good athlete," Jones said. "There are some footwork issues that are probably going to have to be worked on. It's not like he's totally unfamiliar with it. He has a little bit of experience over there.

"He's an excellent third baseman. I have no doubt in my mind that he will make that transition seem easy. If you're a good defender at a corner position, I think you can be a good defender at any corner position."

Cox said Glaus had no problem with Thursday's infield practice — the most intense of the spring thus far.

"He went through the bunt drills fine," Cox said. "He just needs to play.

"We've said we don't think the transition will be hard for him. I don't think it will be," Cox said.

NOTES: After only three days of full-squad workouts, Cox said the Braves already have decided to install nets behind the right-field wall to protect cars from Heyward's long home runs. One of Heyward's home runs over the right-field wall smashed through the sun roof of assistant general manager Bruce Manno's car on Tuesday. Cox said the repair bill was $3,400. Heyward (6-5, 245) hit the video board behind the wall in right-center in Thursday's batting practice.