ATLANTA -- A live, young arm is a terrible thing to waste. That's why Luis Rivera is on his way to Richmond.
The Braves got word Thursday from fifth starter John Burkett that his right shoulder feels "98 percent." The club also activated veteran reliever Rudy Seanez, who was on the disabled list with a strained muscle in his side.
To clear space on the roster for Seanez, the Braves sent the 21-year old Rivera to Class AAA, where he will be a starter for the Richmond Braves instead of a some-time reliever with the big league club.
"He's got to pitch," manager Bobby Cox said. "I can't let him sit out there in the bullpen and not use him."
Rivera was busy packing in his locker in the team clubhouse before Thursday's game with the Dodgers. He kept his head down and wouldn't comment on the demotion, obviously disappointed with the news.
"He's a bulldog, a heck of a competitor, and he's going to be a good pitcher," Cox said. "He needs to pitch."
Rivera, who jumped from Class A in 1999 to the majors this season, made five appearances and pitched 6 2/3 innings, all in relief. He allowed four hits and one earned run while striking out five and walking five.
Meanwhile, Burkett (0-2, 8.64 ERA) pronounced himself fit for Saturday's start in San Diego. The right-hander threw three innings in his previous start last Saturday, but left the game after experiencing pain in his shoulder.
Burkett said he felt fine in bullpen work Tuesday and Wednesday and throwing in the outfield Thursday.
"It's a relief that I can get back out there," Burkett said. "When it first happened, I thought it might be something that would keep me out for a while. I'm real happy this responded to treatment."
There was some bad news from the bullpen.
Kerry Ligtenberg finally got some work Thursday and he didn't fare very well. In his first stint since April 18 -- a stretch of seven games without work -- he faced four batters and gave up a home run and two line drive singles and was charged with two earned runs.
"I need to make an adjustment and figure out what's going on," said Lightenberg, whose ERA jumped to 14.5.
The obvious explanation is that the right-hander is not fully back from elbow surgery, which made him miss the entire 1999 season.
"My arm feels fine. I can't really pinpoint it," Lightenberg said. "I'm opening up a little bit and my arm's dragging. One thing leads to five different things that cause problems. Right now, I don't feel comfortable out there because I'm thinking about 10 different things mechanically to get back myself back to where I was."
Asked about lack of work, Lightenberg said, "It's been kind of frustrating. I've thrown a lot on the side, but it's not quite the same as being in the game. I'm going to get it turned around, it's just a matter of when."
Reliever Kevin McGlinchy, who went on the disabled list April 17 with stiffness in his right shoulder, will pitch twice for the Greenville Braves next week in rehab assignments.
McGlinchy will throw an inning Monday and another Wednesday for the Class AA Braves in Birmingham.
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