- Associated Press - Thursday, September 30, 2010

ATLANTA (AP) - Bobby Cox is still waiting for the one retirement gift he wants most of all _ one last trip to the postseason.

It’s a gift that could keep him in the dugout a few weeks longer.

“I’ll have time to reflect on what has happened this year and throughout my time in Atlanta in about another month and a half,” Cox told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Another month and a half? The regular season ends Sunday. Cox, who is retiring as manager when the season ends, obviously has big postseason plans for the Braves.

Atlanta leads the race for the NL wild-card berth and Cox said another playoff run would be the perfect ending. During his quarter-century with the Braves he led them to a run of 14 straight division titles beginning in 1991, including the 1995 World Series title.

Cox said adding one more postseason appearance to the collection of pennants on the Turner Field facade would mean “a lot.”

“Win or lose, we’ve had a great year, but we’re in this to win and one more up there would be great for the organization and would be a great way to go out in retirement,” he said. “We’re trying to give it everything we’ve got right now.”

The Braves open a season-ending three-game series with Philadelphia on Friday.

Those who have been with Cox the longest were surprised when he announced his retirement plans one year ago. He normally avoids the spotlight, and with his announcement he set up the 2010 season filled with questions about his plans from reporters in every city and the procession of tributes from other NL teams.

That’s not the sort of attention Cox normally enjoys.

Cox, who wears No. 6, was given a 6 from Chicago’s Wrigley Field scoreboard. He was given a cowboy hat and boots from the Houston Astros, a case of Tom Seaver’s wine from the New York Mets, a flag that flew over the U.S. Capitol from the Washington Nationals, among other gifts.

The respect for Cox, the fourth-winningest manager in history, has been obvious. The surprise is that Cox has seemed to relish baseball’s embrace.

“I’ve seen him smile more this year than in any year past,” said third baseman Chipper Jones, the 16-year veteran who has played only for Cox. “You can really sense him taking a step back and trying to enjoy all the gratitude that he’s getting, not just from this town and this organization but all across the land.”

The biggest celebration comes Saturday. The Braves will honor Cox, 69, in a ceremony before their game against the Phillies.

“It’s just an opportunity to focus for one particular day on a great man and a great career and pay tribute in as appropriate a fashion as the organization could do it, on behalf of ourselves and our fans,” said Braves President John Schuerholz.

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