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Cox says he's not worried about Furcal

ATLANTA -- Atlanta Braves shortstop Rafael Furcal returned to the starting lineup Saturday night after issuing a public apology for his second DUI arrest in four years.

"I want to say I'm sorry to Bobby Cox and also all my teammates and all the fans, the baseball fans who follow me in my career and follow the Atlanta Braves," Furcal said before Saturday night's game against the Montreal Expos.

Cox, the Braves manager, said he was not reluctant to put Furcal back in the starting lineup after the player was arrested early
Friday morning.

Furcal was charged with driving under the influence, speeding
and reckless driving. He spent much of Friday in two separate
Atlanta area jails before arriving at Turner Field in time to watch
Friday night's game.

Furcal was arrested after he was clocked at 88 mph in a 55 mph zone on Interstate 85. After he failed a field sobriety test, he
registered a blood alcohol level of 0.127, above the legal Georgia
limit of 0.08.

Furcal faces a potential sentence of 90 days to 12 months in
jail. Part of the sentence could be served on probation.

According to Georgia law, anyone convicted twice of DUI within five years must spend at least 72 hours in jail, perform a minimum of 30 days' community service and complete a course on the dangers of alcohol abuse. Furcal also could lose his driving license.

Furcal was on probation in Cobb County for a June 2000 arrest on similar charges. Furcal faces an Oct. 8 court hearing for that
probation violation. That hearing could come while the Braves are
in the playoffs.

As the Braves' leadoff hitter, Furcal is a key to the team's
postseason hopes. Entering Saturday night's game, Furcal was
batting .287 with 12 homers, 53 RBIs and 24 stolen bases. He leads
the team in steals and is second with 87 runs scored.

Furcal would not discuss details of his arrest but he said he
was grateful to be back in the starting lineup.

"I say thank you to Bobby Cox for showing his support to me," Furcal said. "I'll try to do the best I can and I want to be in
the playoffs."

Braves third baseman Chipper Jones said only Furcal can
determine if the arrest distracts the team from its attempt to win
a 13th straight division title.

"It's up to him," Jones said. "If he comes out and plays the
way he is capable of, I don't see it being any distraction at
all."

Jones said Furcal apologized to him personally.

"An apology from a guy you care about, a guy you've played with a long time, it means a lot," Jones said.

Cox said Furcal "couldn't be more down."

"That's why we need to get him back out there," Cox said.
"He's completely devastated. He's got to keep going."

Furcal signed autographs for a large group of children during
batting practice. He said he had not thought about how fans might
react during the game.

"The fans love me and the way I play," he said. "I'm trying
to concentrate on the game. I'm not thinking about anything right
now."