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Atlanta solidifies 12-man rotation

POSTED: April 7, 2008 5:00 a.m.

KISSIMMEE, Fla. — The Atlanta Braves answered most of the questions about who will make their 12-man pitching staff with one trade.

Wednesday’s trade of reliever Tyler Yates to Pittsburgh for minor league pitcher Todd Redmond helped clear a logjam of right-handed relievers who are out of options.

The Braves are expected to place John Smoltz on the disabled list for the first week. The plan is for Smoltz to be activated to make an April 6 start against the New York Mets.

If Smoltz is on the DL, the Braves would open with only four starters: Tim Hudson, Tom Glavine, Mike Hampton and rookie Jair Jurrjens. With an off day next Tuesday, the team won’t need a fifth starter before April 6.

The Braves won’t make final cuts before returning to Atlanta for exhibition games against Cleveland on Friday and Saturday.

The bullpen is expected to include closer Rafael Soriano, Peter Moylan, Manny Acosta, Jeff Bennett, Blaine Boyer, Chris Resop, Will Ohman and Royce Ring. Ohman and Ring are left-handers.

Bennett made his second straight impressive fill-in start for Smoltz on Wednesday, giving up only one hit with two walks and four strikeouts in four scoreless innings in a 10-2 win over Washington.

Even though there could be another difficult roster decision ahead when Smoltz is ready to pitch, manager Bobby Cox said he doesn’t expect the team to trade another reliever.

"We don’t want to lose any more arms," Cox said.

Like Yates, Boyer and Resop are right-handers with no options. Before making the deal, the Braves were facing the possibility of having to release Yates or another reliever.

"We were in a predicament with all good arms out there and we didn’t want to lose anybody," Cox said.

Boyer said he could make no assumptions that he now has a roster spot.

"I don’t know; that doesn’t mean anything until spring training is over," Boyer said.

"I’m not going to try to get into thinking ‘If this happens or if that happens.’ That’s a dangerous place for the mind to go."

Report on Redmond

Redmond, a right-handed starter, will be assigned to Double-A Mississippi.

Redmond, 22, comes to the Braves with a reputation for a good changeup and excellent control is 22-21 in three minor league seasons.

He was 8-13 with a 4.38 ERA in 28 combined starts for Lynchburg (A) and Altoona (AA) in 2007.

Smoltz update

Smoltz hopes to continue his return from a stiff right shoulder as he plans to throw off a mound Thursday.

He said he had no discomfort when throwing in the outfield on Tuesday.

Cox said if Smoltz has no problems on Thursday, he has time to pitch in at least one minor league game and remain on schedule to make his first regular-season start on April 6.

"He can pitch one time and have a couple of side (sessions) and be ready," Cox said.

Getaway day

The Braves are eager to leave Florida for Atlanta after Thursday’s game against the New York Mets. Cox plans to use five relievers and minor league starter Charlie Morton in the game.

Cox plans to use the relievers before Morton, who was 4-6 last year at Double-A Mississippi.

Last word

Yates won’t have to wait long for his reunion with Braves players.

The Pirates visit Atlanta for a three-game series next week.

Said Yates on his way out of the clubhouse: "See you guys Monday."



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