BASEBALL; Horner refuses demotion

Move over, little Jack Horner, big Bob Horner wants the corner, the one he's held down for the Atlanta Braves at third base for parts of the last three seasons. Bob lost the job earlier in the week after a 2-for-34 batting start and six fielding errors in nine games led to his demotion to the Braves' Triple A farm club. Horner, who says he won't go and wants to be traded, reportedly is filing an action claiming the demotion is a violation of his major league contract.

The Braves apparently feel that Horner, chief target of fan booing during the team's slow start, would benefit from playing under less pressured circumstances. Bob, however, finds it "beyond incredible" that a player of his proven ability would be sent to the minors.

The top pick in the 1978 summer draft, he reported directly to the Braves from Arizona State and proceeded to win Rookie of the Year honors with 23 home runs in just 89 games. Club owner Ted Turner waxed so enthusiastic over Horner's performance that he called him "the best there ever was." Putting his talents in a more realistic perspective, Sports Illustrated sees him as "the power hitter of the '80s."

Horner's slugging prowess may have been inflated to some degree by his frequent opportunities to bat in Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, a traditional home run paradise. Of his 56 career homers, for example, 44 have come in either County Stadium or Chicago's Wrigley Field, another hitter's haven.

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