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Glavine encouraged, but unsure about comeback

POSTED: April 27, 2009 7:43 p.m.
ATLANTA — Braves pitcher Tom Glavine felt better about his ailing left shoulder after throwing in the outfield Monday, but the 305-game winner still isn't sure if he'll be able to extend his career.

The 43-year-old Glavine stopped throwing for two weeks after his shoulder began hurting during a minor league rehab start. He threw in the outfield before Sunday's game at Cincinnati, then withstood a more strenuous test — two sets of 15 throws from 70 feet — prior to the opener of a three-game series against St. Louis at Turner Field,

"I feel OK," Glavine said. "I'm definitely making some progress. I'm not going to sit here and say I'm 100 percent pain-free, but I've made progress. In some areas, it's a lot. In some, not so great."

Glavine said he hopes to throw off the mound before the end of a nine-day homestand. That's when he should truly know if he'll be able to pitch one more season.

"I'm more optimistic and less emotional than I was two weeks ago," he said. "I've been through it in my mind, 'What if this is it?' I've confronted those feelings and somewhat come to grip with those feelings. I'm looking at it more matter-of-factly. I want to put in the work and give it one more shot."

Glavine made only 13 starts last season, going 2-4 with a 5.54 ERA, and went on the disabled list for the first time in his career. He needed surgery on his elbow, and doctors also cleaned out his shoulder in what was thought to be a minor side procedure.

After agreeing to an incentive-laden contract with the Braves during spring training, Glavine hoped to close his career with a healthy season. But the shoulder began hurting when he was less than a week away from making his first big league start of the season. Surprisingly, the surgically repaired elbow feels fine.

Glavine has made it clear he'll retire if this latest problem requires another lengthy rehab. Dr. James Andrews, who performed the operation, said the pitcher is suffering from inflammation in his rotator cuff.

"My decision will be pretty clear based on how I feel," Glavine said.

Meanwhile, catcher Brian McCann spent most of the day with Dr. Alan Kozarsky, an eye specialist, trying a variety of contact lenses in hopes of solving a problem that sent him to the disabled list.

McCann has struggled this season with blurred vision in his left eye. After leading all major league catchers in home runs and RBIs since the start of 2006, he went to the DL hitting just .195.

"Vision — you can't play ball without it," manager Bobby Cox said. "We don't think this will threaten his career or anything like that. We had to disable him because it might take two weeks to figure it out. But it may only take two days."

Another ailing pitcher, Tim Hudson, said he could be throwing off the mound in two to three weeks. The former 20-game winner said he'd be willing to come back as a reliever if that would help the team and bump up his comeback from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.

Hudson noted that Braves reliever Peter Moylan was back on the mound 11 months after the same operation — about a month earlier than the normal recovery period. Hudson isn't expected to return before August, but he's looking for ways to speed up the process.

"Maybe I can come back sooner and help in the bullpen," said Hudson, a starter throughout his career.


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