The 43-year-old is coming back from an August surgery that repaired the flexor tendon in his pitching elbow and cleared debris from the same shoulder. His elbow has been fine since the surgery, but he aggravated the shoulder in April while swinging the bat and hasn't pitched for Atlanta this season.
Glavine threw 41 of his 67 pitches for strikes, allowing six hits while striking out two and walking one in five scoreless innings against Indianapolis. Although his location was spotty at times, Glavine said he was thrilled with his stuff, especially his velocity. His fastball was typically around 83 mph, but he threw as hard as 86 in certain situations.
"If I'm seeing 83, 84 and occasionally 86, that's where I want to be," Glavine said. "It's just a matter of getting my location to where I want it to be. The big thing for me now with my strength getting back to where I need it to be is I have to fight muscling up the ball a little bit. That's not my style of pitching."
After leaving far too many pitches over the plate on Saturday, Glavine's location was better on Thursday. He consistently attacked the inside corner against right-handed hitters and kept the ball down in the zone throughout his first four innings.
After cruising through the first four innings with little trouble, Glavine ran into a bit of trouble in the fifth when he gave up a leadoff double that hit off the top of the wall in left-center to Indians catcher Erik Kratz. He followed the double with a four-pitch walk to Brian Bixler, but induced a double play to end the threat.
"The last two innings, I was trying to make sure I kept my velocity where it was and test it a little bit to make sure I wasn't losing anything," Glavine said. "The good thing about today was when I got into some jams I made some decent pitches and the guys turned some good double plays behind me."
Braves manager Bobby Cox was pleased by Glavine's outing.
"He did real well," Cox said. "In the last inning, he got up to 86 [mph], but mostly he was at 82-83. If he is the Tommy Glavine we know, he'll help us win something here."
The big question for Glavine now is not when he will pitch next, but where. He could throw another rehab start on Tuesday, probably for Double-A Rome. He expects a call from Braves general manager Frank Wren or Cox either Thursday or Friday to discuss his next outing.
"In my mind, I certainly think it wouldn't hurt me to go out there one more time and work on my mechanics a little bit and try to get my location back," Glavine said. "On the other hand, with my velocity where it is right now, I would certainly feel good about pitching in the big leagues."
Glavine didn't swing the bat on Thursday, so it's unclear how his shoulder would react to hitting. He sacrifice bunted in his first at-bat and struck out without swinging in his second at-bat. After his outing, he said he wasn't worried about hitting and felt he could swing the bat if needed.
Despite his desire to return to his Atlanta teammates as soon as possible, Glavine isn't going to rush his return. He plans on evaluating his shoulder on Friday, then playing catch on Saturday. After a bullpen session on Sunday, he should have a much better idea of where he is both physically and location-wise.
"The sooner I get back to the big leagues the better," Glavine said. "At the same time, I want to go back when I'm ready to go back. I'm not 100 percent thrilled with my location right now, but I'm 100 percent thrilled with my stuff."
Adam Rosenberg is a contributor to MLB.com. Jesse Sanchez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less