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Braves’ Smoltz May Return Wednesday

May 29, 1999

ATLANTA (AP) _ John Smoltz said he felt no pain in his right elbow after throwing 75-80 pitches in a simulated game today and hoped to return to the starting rotation next Wednesday night.

His biggest concern was his control.

``It didn’t hurt and I just felt a little rusty around the strike zone,″ he said.

Atlanta manager Bobby Cox liked what he saw.

``He threw good,″ Cox said. ``He had good velocity. He threw 90-92 mph. He was very impressive.″

Cox said he would talk with Smoltz on Saturday night and again on Sunday to ``see what he wants to do.″

Smoltz has been the best pitcher for the Braves this year, bolting to a 5-0 start before losing on May 10 to San Francisco. He has a 2.59 ERA.

The Braves put him on the 15-day disabled list with an inflamed right elbow on May 17.

``I’m just going to wait and see how it rebounds then make a decision,″ Smoltz said after icing down. ``I might throw one more day on the side, probably Monday.″

He said he wants to make sure he can be effective before returning to the rotation. ``I think today helps.″

Smoltz said he needs to trust himself and ``not expect to be perfect. I want to be, but not expect to be.″

After dropping the 5-1 decision to San Francisco when he allowed three runs in seven innings, Smoltz was touched for five runs on eight hits in six innings against the Chicago Cubs on May 16. He wasn’t involved in the decision in that game.

``I left on a good roll and would like to pick up on that,″ he said. ``But, only time will tell.″

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