The Cursed Locker at Turner Field has a list of players whose careers have taken turns for the worse after inhabiting it.
ATLANTA — Perhaps it was the horror of watching top pitching prospect J.R. Graham move into the locker during the Braves’ early pitching camp in February.
Or maybe the decision was made after Livan Hernandez, who overcame a lot during a career spanning 17 years and 3,100-plus innings, proved no match for this particular sinister force.
Whatever the reason, the Cursed Locker is no more.
The infamous locker in the Braves’ clubhouse at Turner Field has been eliminated.
While the Braves were away at spring training, the stall was converted into a cubicle with a small desktop and a computer that players will use to reserve complimentary game tickets.
For those who don’t believe in curses, consider that Hernandez lasted only 18 relief appearances after moving into the locker last season before the Braves released him. He finished the season with Milwaukee and is found on no one’s roster today.
He was only the latest in a line of Braves whose careers took unwanted turns during or after their year in the locker.
For years, anyone assigned the locker, which was originally next to Greg Maddux’s, was gone by the following year, sometimes sooner. It began with Jeff Blauser, who had it the first year the ballpark was open for baseball in 1997.
Blauser hit .308 with an .886 OPS that year (both career-highs), then went to the Cubs as a free agent and hit .219 with a .639 OPS in ‘98. He was out of baseball a year later.
In 2011, four players spent time in the locker. The others after Hernandez: Joe Mather (released), Jordan Schafer (traded to Houston in July), Cristhian Martinez (demoted to the minors midseason).
Among the previous players assigned to the locker: Bret Boone, Robert Fick, Wally Joyner, Ken Caminiti, Albie Lopez, Damian Moss, Chris Seelbach and Joe Nelson.
A notable exception, one player to last more than a season in the locker was pitcher Kenshin Kawakami. But his career went into a tailspin in his second season and he spent the entire third season of his three-year contract at Double-A Mississippi, accompanied by his Maserati and his interpreter.
Now it’s gone, a locker no more. Too late for Kawakami, Hernandez, Fick or any others who struggled while assigned to it. But neither Graham, should he make it to the majors this year, nor anyone else will be doomed to that stall in the future.
But how long will it take before the computer in the locker-turned-cubicle gets a virus?