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Smoltz ‘Average’ in Rehab Start

April 3, 1998

GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) _ John Smoltz, pitching in a minor league uniform for the first time in 10 years, had what he called an average performance Thursday night as he pitched four innings for the Southern League’s Greenville Braves.

``It was an average outing for me, one that needs to get better,″ said the four-time NL All-Star and 1996 Cy Young Award winner. ``I had one really good inning tonight, and in the others I just wavered a bit.″

Smoltz, who had surgery on his right elbow in December to remove bone spurs, threw 58 pitches against the Chattanooga Lookouts, including 30 strikes. He struck out five, walked one and allowed two hits: a second-inning single by Jason LaRuc and a fourth-inning double by Mike Frank.

Smoltz made caught a line drive at his shoe top and sacrificed in his only at-bat.

Odaliz Perez relieved Smoltz in the fifth with Greenville ahead 2-0.

``I don’t know if I ever really got into the game,″ Smoltz said. ``Right now, I’m like everyone else was back in spring training. I got good results tonight, but my mechanics are not where they should be.″

He will make his second and final start for Greenville on Tuesday at Jacksonville, Fla. He is scheduled to rejoin Atlanta on April 16.

``In between these starts, I’ll be working hard on my mechanics, so by Jacksonville I’ll be ready to concentrate more on game situations,″ Smoltz said. ``I’m treating this as the only fun I’ll have for a while. When I get back up there, it will be more work and not as much fun. I’m enjoying this while I can.″

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