The Braves Report

Here are some news and notes on the Atlanta Braves, who are 12-15 through the first sixth of the season.

INSIDE PITCH

Right-hander John Smoltz is an emotional guy. He bounces all over the place, high and low, physically and verbally.

Right now, he is low, having to restrain himself for who knows how long while following the prescription he received Tuesday from Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala. -- rest and rehab. He is not to pick up a baseball for a week, at least.

The worst part of that edict is how much time it gives Smoltz to think about his own pitching prospects and that of the club. Specifically, that right-hander Rafael Soriano, for all his light-heartedness, still feels soreness in his right elbow, and this without throwing breaking balls that would test an elbow more than fastballs would. Then there is the outlook for right-hander Peter Moylan, who is resting his right arm as a last resort before possible season-ending surgery.

Left-hander Mike Gonzalez, though, is coming along more quickly than anyone thought possible. His return to the club from elbow surgery rehab could be a mere two weeks away.

But for now, Smoltz can do nothing but ponder whether relieving might be the way to get through the season, rather than starting. But he is early in the recovery process; expect him to accept and reject such ideas on a daily basis for the time being.

NATIONALS 3, BRAVES 2 (12 innings): Right-hander Jair Jurrjens continued his brilliant pitching for the Braves, all for naught as it turned out. Because the Braves needed runs, he was lifted for a pinch hitter after seven innings of one-run, two-hit ball. Right-hander Manny Acosta eventually pitched more than two innings -- he even hit for himself -- before loading the bases. Buddy Carlyle's first pitch to Felipe Lopez ended up as a single, and the winning run crossed the plate.


NOTES, QUOTES

--LHP Mike Hampton had to come out of his rehab start Wednesday for Class AAA Richmond after 3 1/3 innings (71 pitches) because of continuing discomfort in the strained left pectoral muscle that forced him onto the 15-day disabled list. He had been penciled in to return to the Braves for a May 10 start at Pittsburgh.

--2B Kelly Johnson was a late scratch Wednesday when his back tightened up about an hour before the game. INF Ruben Gotay got the start at second base in Johnson's place.

--OF Gregor Blanco got the start Wednesday in left field. Both he and OF Matt Diaz have been hitting well, and manager Bobby Cox decided that with a two-game series in Washington, he'd give each of them a start.

--RHP John Smoltz, ordered by doctors to go at least a week without picking up a baseball while he rests his right biceps and inflamed rotator cuff, is being forced to consider the possibility of pitching out of the bullpen once again. Injuries to closers Rafael Soriano and Peter Moylan are as compelling reasons as his own uncertain health.

--1B Mark Teixeira was out of Wednesday's game at a crucial moment in the 12th inning because manager Bobby Cox pinch-ran for him; sub Martin Prado couldn't corral a subsequent ball, which contributed to the bases-loaded situation that led to the Nationals' win.


BY THE NUMBERS

0 -- Number of split-finger fastballs RHP John Smoltz threw in spring training. He used the pitch to record his 3,000th career strikeout April 22 against Nationals 2B Felipe Lopez.


QUOTE TO NOTE

"It's more mental than physical at this point." -- LHP Mike Hampton, on rehabbing his strained left pectoral muscle.


MEDICAL WATCH

RHP John Smoltz (severely inflamed right biceps tendon and right rotator cuff inflammation) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 28. No timeframe has been given for his return.

RHP Peter Moylan (bone spur in right elbow) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 12. He might need surgery.

RHP Rafael Soriano (right elbow tendinitis) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 7.

LHP Mike Hampton (strained left pectoral muscle) was hurt while warming up for the April 3 game. He went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 29. He left a rehab start with Class AAA Richmond on April 30 due to continuing discomfort in the pectoral muscle.

LHP Mike Gonzalez (Tommy John elbow surgery in May 2007) was not expected to be ready to pitch until after the All-Star break, but he hopes to return in May. He went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 21.

INF Omar Infante (broken left hand) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 21. He started working out at extended spring training in late April.

RHP Anthony Lerew (Tommy John elbow surgery in July 2007) went on the 60-day disabled list retroactive to March 21.


HOT HITTERS - Last Seven Games

Mark Teixeira - .379 with 5 RBI in 29 at bats
Gregor Blanco - .348 in 23 at bats
Mark Kotsay - .320 with 3 RBI

COLD HITTERS - Last Seven Games

Kelly Johnson - .231, but with 5 RBI
Jeff Francoeur - .207, but with 4 RBI

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