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Morton optioned, but only for two days

Braves option Morton -- for a moment

WASHINGTON -- One day after making the most encouraging start of his young career, Charlie Morton found himself back on a Minor League roster.

In order to provide some bullpen depth for this weekend's three-game series against the Nationals, the Braves activated right-handed pitcher Elmer Dessens and optioned Morton to their Triple-A roster.

"It just gives us a backup, a good one," Cox said in reference to the 37-year-old Dessens, who signed a Major League contract with the Braves on Wednesday.

Because he has 72 hours to report, Morton won't actually have to join the Richmond club. When the Major League 25-man roster expands on Monday, Morton will be among the players added and he could immediately fit back into the rotation to make Tuesday's scheduled start against the Marlins.

The Braves are expected to add up to six players when the rosters expand. Players who will almost certainly be added include Morton, infielder Brent Lillibridge, left-handed reliever Jeff Ridgway and catcher Corky Miller.

Earlier this week, Braves manager Frank Wren gave indication that two top prospects, outfielder Jordan Schafer and right-hander Thomas Hanson, won't be among the roster additions. While there would be interest in seeing both of these players at the Major League level, there isn't a need for the Braves to place them on the 40-man roster. Neither of them are eligible for this year's Rule 5 Draft.

The Braves are expected to add two other pitchers and James Parr, who has gone 12-7 with a 3.58 ERA in 27 combined appearances (25 starts) with Double-A Mississippi and Richmond this year, is a certain candidate.

Because he was a high school selection in the 2004 First-Year Player Draft, Parr would be eligible for selection during this year's Rule 5 Draft. If the Braves want to protect the 22-year-old right-hander, they'll need to put him on their 40-man roster before December.

Thus, unlike with Schafer and Hanson, they wouldn't have to worry about advancing his clock if they choose to put him on the 40-man roster now.

While hitting .217 in 87 games with Richmond this year, Lillibridge has encountered regular disappointment. After not winning a roster spot in Spring Training, the 24-year-old infielder got off to a slow start and has never found a steady groove.

But Lillibridge's defensive skills as a shortstop are still admired by many scouts, and providing him a chance to compete at the Major League level in September could at least increase his value on the trade market.

After hitting .093 in 26 games with Atlanta this year, Miller was designated for assignment and promised by Braves manager Bobby Cox that he would return to the Majors in September. He'll spend the season's final month as the club's third catcher.

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

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