Braves' Smoltz hopes to resume throwing Sunday
Smoltz has been sidelined for two weeks because of biceps and rotator cuff problems in his right arm. A starter when the season began, Smoltz will go into the bullpen once he returns.
He anticipates having some pain when he starts throwing, but is optimistic it will be minimal and the discomfort will go away sometime this season.
"I don't want to keep losing so much ground," Smoltz said Saturday. "Tomorrow will be two weeks without picking up a ball. I hope that it's not much longer, so I can start getting into a routine."
Such a long layoff is difficult, he said, because he must make sure his arm strength is where it needs to be once he comes back.
"It's always something you struggle with. I've gone five days easy without throwing and you pick up a ball and it's not a big deal," Smoltz said. "But the stresses are going to be different [as a reliever]."
Smoltz, long one of the NL's top starters, was the Braves' closer from 2001-04 before returning to the rotation in 2005. He was 3-2 with a 2.00 ERA in five starts this season before learning April 29 he had an inflamed right biceps tendon and rotator cuff.
When he resumes throwing, he said, he won't drag out his return to game action.
"There will be no more side sessions," he said. "Once you get into a position where you think you can help [the team], you've just got to go out there. You can't improve anything anymore, you've just got to go out there."
When he first became a reliever, he threw as many as 50 warmup pitches in an attempt to sharpen all of his pitches. To prevent such stress on his arm, he plans to throw only 20 warmup pitches, with the goal of not needing more than 20 in an inning.
"That would be ideal ... if I can get to a point where I just get loose, and trust that my fastball's always going to be there, and slider, and really just trust those pitches when you warm up," he said.
Smoltz, who turns 41 on Thursday, has a 210-147 career record, a 3.25 ERA and 154 saves, but is resigned to being in the bullpen the rest of the season.
"My mind-set is going to be, whatever role I'm in, whatever inning, whatever the scenario is, it's quick one way or the other," Smoltz said. "I'm going to get a result quick."
Smoltz was on the field Saturday in Pittsburgh, but only to shag fly balls. He resisted the temptation to throw in the outfield, instead flipping balls underhanded back to the infield.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
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