MIAMI -- For the second time in 24 hours John Smoltz headed to a bullpen mound Thursday afternoon to answer questions about his right elbow.
In sharp contrast to Wednesday's disappointing workout, he emerged with a smile on his face after 10 minutes of throwing. He indicated he's set to make Saturday's start against the Phillies, though he's less certain how many innings he can work.
"I can't allow myself to look past four or five innings," he said. "I'm not going to get caught up in wins and losses or having to go seven or eight innings. I feel like I can do the necessary things I have to do to win."
Smoltz was frustrated by Wednesday's workout because his elbow didn't feel right and his command wasn't sharp. Thursday's workout left him feeling more confident in the state of his elbow and his pitches.
"It was different in the sense that I didn't aim low and away and throw up and away," he said. "I always approach a game as a challenge and this is no different. Nobody wants to contribute more than I do."
Just in case Smoltz has trouble getting loose Saturday and can't make the start, the Braves plan to call up a minor league pitcher and have him ready. Manager Bobby Cox spoke with the front office Thursday and indicated one of three pitchers -- Derrin Ebert, Micah Bowie or Jon Ratliff -- would probably meet the team in Philadelphia.
"Throughout this process I'm going to have good days and bad days," Smoltz said. "That's what I've got to deal with. I could wait another two weeks and I don't think the situation would be any different." ...
Second baseman Bret Boone sat out a second straight game Thursday and this time it wasn't because of his sore toe. Keith Lockhart is swinging a hot bat and Cox chose to stick with him, rather than Boone, who's hitting .206 in 16 games this month.
"Keith is hitting the ball good," Cox said. "It's good (for Boone) to get a breather every once in awhile."
Lockhart is 7-for-17 (.412) with two RBI and five runs on the trip, raising his average from .226 just four days ago to .247.
"It's nice to play," he said. "It's nice after one at-bat to make an adjustment. As a pinch hitter you don't have that luxury. The whole thing is adjusting to off-speed pitches. We hit every day and mainly you see batting practice fastballs and it's a lot different in game situations." ...
Trace a finger along the list of the league's offensive leaders and there's Chipper Jones among the top 10 in hits, total bases, doubles, walks, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and extra-base hits. Yet, he feels he's having a subpar season because he's not among the RBI leaders.
"I'm the guy who hits in the middle of the lineup, so my power numbers are there, but my run production is down," he said. "Run production is how guys in the middle of the order are judged."
Life won't get any easier for Jones today when he faces the Phillies' Curt Schilling in the first game of a doubleheader at Veterans Stadium. Jones has held the upper hand against the hard-throwing right-hander throughout his career, posting a .409 average with three home runs, but Schilling struck him out twice and walked him once on opening day and he hasn't forgotten.
In the past Schilling threw fastballs away and backdoor sliders to Jones, but changed his approach in April. He threw inside fastballs and used his split-finger effectively, so Jones is expecting more of the same.
"I imagine he'll work me inside pretty good and keep me off-balance with split-fingers," Jones said. "I'll be ready."
So will Kevin Millwood. He is 1-1 against the Phillies this season, 5-1 in his career against them, and anxious to oppose Schilling.
"I think it pumps me up a little bit more, it gets the juices flowing," he said. "Against a guy like that you get a little more excited than usual." ...
The Braves have signed T.J. Pena, the son of former big league catcher Tony Pena, as a free agent. The younger Pena is a right-handed-hitting shortstop, 6-foot and 165 pounds, and a native of the Dominican Republic. His father played 18 years in the majors for six teams, including the Pirates, Cardinals, Red Sox and Indians.