GreenJackets right-hander Matt Thompson skipped his scheduled turn in the rotation as part of the Boston Red Sox minor-league pitching program which calls for all starters to miss one start each season.
"He wasn't feeling well on the last road trip with a cold, so it seemed like a good time to shut him down for a start," manager Mike Boulanger said. "He's fine, but it wouldn't hurt him to miss for his arm. I think it's a good policy at this level. It's a long season and everybody's going to miss one start. All our guys did it last year, and they came back and pitched well after that."
The 19-year-old Thompson, a second-round pick in 1999, is 5-4 with a 2.83 ERA in 57 1/3 innings. He will return to the mound Monday in the finale of Augusta's four-game series vs. Kannapolis.
Reliever Tony Fontana was originally scheduled to make a spot start in Thompson's place on Friday, but the game was rained out.
Fontana now will start Game 2 of today's doubleheader, his first start after 14 relief appearances, and make another start on Thursday at Capital City. He is slated to pitch about three innings today, which will enable him to come back and pitch again on three days rest.
In 14 appearances this season, Fontana is 0-0 with a 2.56 ERA with 34 strikeouts and only eight walks in 38 2/3 innings.
THINK OF LARA: Left-hander Mauricio Lara's return to the Jackets was pushed back at least until later this week, as he continues rehabbing his sore lower back in extended spring training.
Boulanger had hoped the 22-year-old prospect would rejoin the club last Monday and make a start against Hickory on Tuesday, but the Red Sox decided to give him at least one more start in Fort Myers, Fla., before making a decision.
"I think they want to be real careful with him because he's a prospect," Boulanger said. "They think it's best for him to make one more start and then be evaluated."
TESTAMENT TO WILL: Boulanger likes what outfielder Will Smith, who made his Jackets debut last week after joining the club from extended spring training, brings to the lineup.
The 24-year-old Alabama native is billed as an excellent defensive outfielder and base stealer. He hit .267 with 14 RBI and 20 stolen bases for short-season Lowell last season, his first as a Red Sox farmhand.
"We had Will in spring training for a while, and I liked him," Boulanger said. "He's a good runner and outfielder and a spray hitter who uses the whole park. He had a real good extended spring, and what he brings to our club is solid defense and base-stealing ability."
FORMER JACKETS: At the start of the 1998 season, one might have voted GreenJackets infielder/outfielder Rob Mackowiack the least likely to make the big leagues. But the former 53rd-round draft pick defied the odds and became the second member of the 1998 Jackets to play in the majors when he made his debut recently with the Pirates. Mackowiack batted .243 in 25 games with the Jackets before a promotion to high Class A Lynchburg in May, 1998. He had a breakout year at Double-A Altoona last season, batting .297 with 13 home runs and 87 RBI, and began the 2001 season at Triple-A Nashville. ... Right-hander Anastacio Martinez, who went 9-6 with a 4.64 ERA with the Jackets last year, is 4-5 with a 4.29 ERA in 11 games at high Class A Sarasota, and has allowed two runs or fewer in his past three starts. ... First baseman Luis Garcia, an all-star with the Jackets last season, is batting .310 with nine home runs and 36 RBI at Sarasota. ... Second baseman Angel Santos, named the Jackets' player of the year by the Red Sox in 1998, is batting .281 with three home runs and 17 RBI at Double-A Trenton.
AROUND THE SAL: Charleston (S.C.) RiverDogs outfielder Rocco Baldelli, the sixth overall pick by Tampa Bay in the 2000 draft, hit safely in 11 straight games through May 30, raising his average to .279. ... Greensboro Bats left-hander Dave Martinez, who was named the starting pitcher for the Northern Division all stars last week, pitched a five-hitter and struck out 11 to record his fifth straight win in a 2-0 victory over Wilmington May 28. Martinez entered the contest having allowed two earned runs or less in his nine previous starts, and is 5-0 with a league-leading 1.28 ERA. ... Hagerstown Suns right-hander Boof Bonser, the 21st overall pick by San Francisco last year, recorded 10 strikeouts and yielded two hits in five innings in a 1-0 win over Charleston, S.C., May 28. The 19-year-old Florida native is 4-2 with a 2.95 ERA and 56 strikeouts. ... Wilmington all-star outfielder Candy Martinez had his streak of 30 consecutive stolen bases to start the season snapped at Delmarva May 26. His 30 steals in 31 attempts leads the league, and his 35 RBI is tied for fifth in the league.