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 KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) -Judging from some of the talk coming out of the New York and Philadelphia camps, the NL East must be a two-team race.
Not so, said Atlanta Braves third baseman Chipper Jones, who shrugged off the back-and-forth banter between the last two division champions.
``I really don't care what's being said,'' he said. ``The Phillies and the Mets know we'll be competitive. They know we'll be heard from.''
The Braves have finished third each of the last years after winning 14 straight division titles.
Philadelphia claimed the East championship last season, backing up Jimmy Rollins' preseason prediction that the Phillies would be the team to beat. Of course, if helped when the Mets endured a historic collapse in the final weeks.
New York then acquired ace Johan Santana from Minnesota, prompting normally soft-spoken Carlos Beltran to proclaim the Mets are the undisputed favorite.
``Let me tell you this: Without Santana, we felt as a team that we have a chance to win in our division. With him now, I have no doubt that we're going to win in our division,'' Beltran said. ``So this year, to Jimmy Rollins - we are the team to beat!''
No one seems to be mentioning the Braves, though they have one of the best-hitting teams in the league and took steps to upgrade their starting rotation by signing Tom Glavine and acquiring top prospect Jair Jurrjins.
``It really doesn't bother me,'' Jones said. ``They are the last two division champions. They can talk all they want. We did it for 14 straight years. We know what it takes.
``The core of guys is still here. We've just got to get these young guys used to having that killer instinct and getting back on top of the NL East to stay again.''
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