Notes: Smoltz to start on short rest

Notes: Smoltz to start on short rest

NEW YORK -- If one were to wonder the significance of every member of a 25-man roster, they could simply look at the ripple effect created after Braves left-handed reliever Chuck James was forced to leave Friday night's 14-inning loss to the Mets at Shea Stadium with a right hamstring injury.

Immediately, it forced Braves manager Bobby Cox to dip into his starting rotation and use Jorge Sosa during the final two innings. As for its lasting effect, it forced Cox to alter many of his pitching plans, namely who would start in Sosa's place for Sunday's series finale.

By Saturday morning, Cox had elected to bring John Smoltz back on short rest to face the Mets in the series finale and also decided to activate Horacio Ramirez from the 15-day disabled list.

Ramirez's strained left hamstring is still not 100 percent healthy. But because the Braves used nine pitchers on Friday, they needed him to be available for emergency purposes. He had been scheduled to begin a Minor League rehab assignment with Triple-A Richmond on Sunday.

When James left in the ninth inning with a strained right hamstring and it was obvious the Braves didn't have any relievers available for long relief, Smoltz told pitching coach Roger McDowell that he didn't have a problem coming back on short rest.

"I'm not concerned," Smoltz said on Saturday morning. "My concern is that we win today and we win tomorrow."

Smoltz needed 109 pitches to complete his seven-inning performance against the Phillies on Wednesday. This will be the 18th time in his career that the veteran right-hander has started with less than four days' rest. He's 6-7 with a 5.17 ERA in those games.

His most recent experience starting on short rest came Aug. 13, 1997, when he got the loss, despite limiting the Pirates to two earned runs in a complete-game effort.

"From a purist's standpoint, you'd like to be out there pitching every four days," Smoltz said. "Mentally, you just have to be tougher."

Smoltz is on pace to throw approximately 230 innings this year. But because he's already taken advantage of scheduled off-days to get extra rest before two of his starts, he's not worried about feeling the late-season fatigue that he experienced last year.

James' frustration: When James entered Friday's ninth inning, he was already feeling discomfort in his right hamstring. Just before exiting the bullpen, the 24-year-old southpaw felt a twinge while stretching. After facing just two batters, he was forced to exit.

"It's a lot more sore today than it was yesterday," James said. "I guess it's a good thing they came in got me. I might have just ripped [the muscle] right off my leg."

James was making just his second appearance since throwing two innings against the Mets on April 17. His only appearance in between came against the Brewers on April 26, when he faced just two batters.

Ramirez still ailing: The Braves somewhat reluctantly activated Ramirez, who has been on the disabled list since straining his left hamsting on April 5. He's still feeling some discomfort while running.

But they truly had no other option other than making him available to fill an emergency relief role. He had been scheduled to throw three innings for Richmond in Toledo on Sunday.

There's always the possibility that the club could place Ramirez back on the disabled list later this week in hopes that he'll have a chance to regain all of the strength in his leg.

McCann's initial miscues: Braves catcher Brian McCann had two hits and two RBIs on Friday night. But he also was charged with his first two passed balls of the season. The passed ball he was charged with in the 14th inning proved large when David Wright ended things with a ground-rule double.

McCann entered Saturday afternoon with 11 hits in his previous 26 at-bats. His .317 batting average ranks second among all National League catchers.

Coming up: The Braves and Mets will conclude their three-game series on Sunday afternoon. Smoltz will be facing Jose Lima, who wasn't announced as the Mets starter until Saturday. Scheduled starter John Maine was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a right middle finger injury.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.