SAN FRANCISCO -- John Smoltz feels fortunate to have escaped Friday night's start with nothing more than a bone bruise after taking a Marvin Benard line drive off his right foot in the first inning.
X-rays of his foot Saturday morning were negative and he expects to make Wednesday's start against the Padres.
"It's the hardest I've ever been hit," said Smoltz, who departed after five innings when he could no longer push off the mound. "I could have kept going, but Bobby (Cox) probably made the right decision. I obviously wasn't 100 percent."
It was the proper decision because Smoltz could have begun favoring his foot, which would have created more problems.
"I wanted to make sure I didn't alter (my mechanics)," he said. "Any kind of jarring, starting and stopping, I couldn't do that very well."
His foot hurt so much that during a fourth-inning at-bat he barely was able to get out of the way of an inside pitch from Giants starter Russ Ortiz. Smoltz was still limping Saturday, but indicated some hot and cold treatment had made it feel better and he could put more weight on it.
By now Smoltz should know better than give the left-handed-hitting Benard a low pitch to drive back at him. Several years ago Benard lined the first pitch of a game off the thumb of his glove hand, which until Friday night was the hardest ball ever hit off a part of his body.
"I thought it broke my thumb," Smoltz remembered. "If he hits me (Friday night) in the shin or knee, I'm done. If it hits me anywhere but (my foot), I'm coming off the field." ...
Brian Jordan is becoming increasingly frustrated by a sore right hand that's played a significant role in his worst slump of the season. Mired in a 5-for-his-last-31 skid, he says the injury has forced him to change his stance and his swing.
"(The pain) is killing me," he said. "I'm not trusting my hands because of the pain. Now I'm moving my body. I have nothing on my swing."
Jordan needs some time off to rest his hand, but he can't afford to miss any games in the middle of a pennant race. But he may be forced to sit out a game or two simply because his production has fallen off so drastically.
He reached the 100-RBI plateau on Aug. 23, but has only two RBI since then and his average has fallen from .304 on July 20 to .288.
"I've got to do something about my productivity or they're going to start walking Chipper (Jones)," he said. "Right now they're still pitching to him, but they'll figure it out." ...
Mike Remlinger has not only been the club's best reliever this season, he's also demonstrated great timing. The left-hander has arrived on the scene just in time to grab eight wins, matching his career-highs of the past two years.
"The biggest thing I'm happy about is we've won the games," he said. "As long as someone is getting (the wins), I don't care who it is."
Remlinger was credited with Friday night's 4-2 win when the Braves followed his scoreless seventh by scoring a pair of runs off Ortiz in the eighth inning. Now, after spending years shifting between the rotation and the bullpen for the Mets and Reds, he's found his niche as a setup man for closer John Rocker.
"I'm more than happy doing what I'm doing," he said. "But all the personal numbers pale in comparison to putting a ring on your finger."
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