Barring injury, Jordan favored as left fielder

Updated: January 19, 2005, 7:47 PM ET
Associated Press

ATLANTA -- Brian Jordan is returning to Atlanta in hopes of completing his career in the city where he starred for the Braves and the NFL's Falcons.

Brian Jordan
Right Field
Texas Rangers
61 5 23 27 2 .222

Jordan agreed Wednesday to a $600,000, one-year contract that allows him to earn an additional $400,000 in performance and roster bonuses.

The outfielder, who will be 38 by Opening Day, has not played in more than 66 games since 2002, and he hit .222 with five homers and 23 RBI for Texas last season.

"The doctors were very, very positive about his condition overall," Braves general manager John Schuerholz said. "The whole key is if he stays physically strong and healthy and doesn't get banged up and have a debilitating injury, he's going to be productive for us."

Barring further moves by the Braves, Jordan will enter spring training as the favorite to win the starting job in left field. Atlanta signed Raul Mondesi last week to play right field.

Jordan, who passed a team physical Wednesday, would earn a $100,000 bonus if he is on the Opening Day active roster. He would earn $50,000 each for 350, 390, 430, 470, 510 and 550 plate appearances.

It wasn't until late last season that Jordan felt fully recovered from knee surgery in 2003. He also has battled wrist, shoulder and back injuries.

"I'm in great shape, back-in-my-football-days shape," Jordan said. "I've worked hard to get to this point."

Jordan hit .269 in August and September with four homers and 19 RBI. The Rangers then declined a $4 million option and paid a $125,000 buyout.

Jordan played with the Braves from 1999-2001 and lives in suburban Atlanta.

"It feels great to be home, great to be back as a part of the community," he said.

Schuerholz had to rebuild the outfield after losing J.D. Drew in free agency and trading Eli Marrero and Charles Thomas. Andruw Jones returns in center field.

"Right now we're real happy with how our outfield looks," Schuerholz said. "That's a pretty good outfield, with the assumption that Mondesi gets back on track from the year he had last year and Brian's health stays strong."

Schuerholz said several young outfielders, including Ryan Langerhans, Bill McCarthy and Jeff Francoeur, will compete for roster spots. The team also announced Wednesday that outfielders Roosevelt Brown, Esix Snead and John Barnes have been invited to camp as non-roster players.

Jordan spent part of the 2004 season in Texas as a platoon player, playing against left-handers. He could share time in left field with one of the youngsters.

"I would like to play every day," Jordan said. "Whether or not that happens, we'll see."

Jordan had a career-high 115 RBI in 1999, then hit .295 with 25 homers and 97 RBI in 2001.

Following the 2001 season, Jordan was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a deal that brought Gary Sheffield to the Braves.

Jordan began his professional career in the NFL, playing safety for the Falcons. He spent his first seven seasons in the major leagues with the St. Louis Cardinals.St. Louis Cardinals

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press