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Braves’ Hall of Famer Bobby Cox suffers stroke

ATLANTA (AP) — Hall of Famer manager Bobby Cox was able to accept visitors in his Atlanta-area hospital room on Wednesday, one day after the longtime Braves skipper suffered a stroke.

Braves manager Brian Snitker and general manager Alex Anthopoulos were among those saw Cox.

“He’s holding up great, as Bobby would,” Snitker said.

Snitker described his reaction to Cox’s stroke as “stunned.” Snitker, who worked as a third base coach for Cox, became emotional when talking about his 77-year-old mentor.

“He’s a strong man, he’s got a strong will,” Snitker said, adding, “right now, we’re all just praying.”

First baseman Freddie Freeman, who made his debut in Cox’s 2010 farewell season, said he felt a missing presence around the team.

“It’s tough,” Freeman said. “But we all know Bobby Cox. I don’t think a stroke is going to keep him down. We’ll see him here real soon, hopefully.”

Cox wore his Braves jersey while shouting “play ball!” before the first pitch of Monday night’s home opener against the Chicago Cubs.

Even in retirement, Cox has remained a regular around the Braves. His routine includes pregame coffee with Snitker.

“I said about 6:20 when I’m normally in there drinking coffee with him, it’s going to be a big void,” Snitker said.

Snitker said he visited Cox in the hospital “as much for me as for him. He’ll be fine.”

Cox’s family released a statement on Wednesday which thanked fans for their support.

“We want to thank all of you who have sent their well wishes or said a prayer,” the statement said. “We know the power of Braves Country and we hope those prayers and positive thoughts continue as Bobby heals. You don’t know how much your support means to Bobby and to our family.”

The Braves also released a statement that said, “We know no one stronger or more determined than Bobby Cox. Our thoughts and prayers are with him as he recovers. We look forward to seeing him soon and would like to thank the baseball community for joining together to support our dear friend.”

Catcher Brian McCann described Cox as “one of the best human beings any of us have ever met” and as an “icon.”

“He is the Atlanta Braves,” McCann said. “He’s the best.”

Freeman said he expected Cox would be watching Wednesday night’s Cubs-Braves game.

“He’s going to be keeping score,” Freeman said. “He’s going to be yelling at us, for sure.”

Cox ranks fourth all-time with 2,504 wins in 29 years as a manager, including 25 years in two stints with the Braves and four years with Toronto.

Cox led the Braves to 14 straight division titles from 1991-2005, including the 1995 World Series title. It is the Braves’ only championship since moving to Atlanta in 1966.

He began his second stint with the Braves as general manager in 1985 when he was lured back to Atlanta by then-owner Ted Turner. As GM, Cox helped to build the team that enjoyed the long run of division titles.

Cox returned to the dugout as manager in 1990. John Schuerholz moved to Atlanta as general manager, forming the successful partnership with Cox.

His most celebrated draft pick as GM was Chipper Jones, the No. 1 overall selection in 1990.

Jones spent his full career with the Braves and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame last year, joining Cox and former teammates Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz.

Jones used his Twitter account to express support for Cox. “Prayers up this morning for the Skipper!!!” Jones wrote.

The Braves retired Cox’s No. 6 following his final season. He entered the Hall of Fame in 2014 with Maddux and Glavine.

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More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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