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Glavine holding out hope of returning

Glavine holding out hope of returning

ATLANTA -- Tom Glavine realizes that his troublesome left shoulder may force him to retire within the next few weeks. But because he's experienced some recent relief, the veteran left-hander remains somewhat hopeful that he might be able to join the Braves' rotation by the end of May.

"I think I'm still cautiously optimistic," Glavine said on Monday afternoon. "In my mind, I think I'm prepared for the worst if this doesn't work out."

Glavine was at least more optimistic than he'd been while addressing his latest setback on April 14. Just two days earlier, he'd felt some discomfort while swinging the bat in what would have been his final Minor League rehab assignment.

Burdened by the emotions created by the reality that he might be forced to put an end to his storied career, Glavine chose to wait two weeks before resuming throwing exercises that would give him a better idea about the odds of him pitching again.

After playing catch on Sunday and Monday, the 43-year-old left-hander experienced some of the same shoulder discomfort that has followed him throughout a majority of his career. While this was somewhat frustrating, the pain wasn't significant enough to prevent him from at least prolonging his comeback attempt.

"I've definitely made some progress," Glavine said. "But I'm not standing here saying that I'm 100 percent pain-free. At this stage of the game, that might not be realistic."

Glavine plans to throw a bullpen session within the next week to gain a better understanding about when he might be able to begin making Minor League rehab starts again. Because he was able to begin throwing again within a span of two weeks, he believes there's a chance that he might only need to make two rehab starts before deeming himself ready to pitch in the Majors.

This timetable would likely put him in position to return during the middle to late portion of May. Once again, Glavine said he's not interested in prolonging a rehab process aimed toward allowing him to begin pitching again around the All-Star break.

Glavine knows that his future essentially is based on how he feels when he increases his effort level and tests his shoulder while throwing on a downward plane off the mound. Right now, he's still bothered by his lack of arm strength, which is causing his shoulder to feel fatigued.

"I'm more optimistic about it," Glavine said. "But I think I'm mostly less emotional about it. I've come to grips with the possibility that it might not work out. I'll be able to know that I tried everything and it just wasn't there anymore."

The Braves signed Glavine to a $1 million incentive-laden contract in February. Once he's placed on the active roster, he'll receive a $1 million bonus.

With Kenshin Kawakami at least creating doubts about his ability to pitch in the Majors, the Braves could certainly benefit from the return of a healthy Glavine, who allowed just three earned runs in the 12 innings he completed during the Grapefruit League season.

"From what I saw during Spring Training, we definitely could use him in the rotation," Braves manager Bobby Cox said.

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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