SAN FRANCISCO - The Atlanta Braves breathed a sigh of relief Wednesday when reliever Darren Holmes threw in the outfield, and pronounced his sore right shoulder was healthy.
Holmes, who has not pitched since last Friday because of tendinitis in his shoulder, took Wednesday off and told manager Bobby Cox he would be ready today.
Cox, uncertain whether Holmes would need to be placed on the 15-day disabled list, had talked to the front office about calling up a reliever and sending him to meet the team in Denver Friday. But when Holmes told Cox his shoulder had responded to treatment, he shelved plans to recall a minor leaguer.
"I did a lot of praying," said Holmes, responding to a question of how he recovered so quickly. "I threw (Tuesday) and it didn't feel great, but the trainers told me I would feel a big difference between yesterday and today and they were right. Give me a another day and I'll be ready to go."
Holmes thinks fatigue led to the tendinitis. He pitched in 18 of the club's first 36 games, a workload he hasn't shouldered since he appeared in 62 games with the Colorado Rockies in 1996.
AVERAGE NIGHT: Damian Moss issued six walks in Tuesday night's 2-0 loss to the San Francisco Giants, but the walk that hurt the most was a leadoff pass to Rich Aurilia in the eighth. Three batters later, Reggie Sanders lined a two-run single to right against reliever Kevin Gryboski and Moss had the first loss of his big league career.
Nonetheless, Moss thinks his command was sharper against the Giants than it had been in several starts. He credits a suggestion from pitcher Tom Glavine and pitching coach Leo Mazzone that he move to the third base side of the rubber with his improved control.
"If I threw eight out of 10 fastballs, they did what I wanted them to do," Moss said. "Before, it might have been five."
Because Moss throws across his body, like Glavine, his pitches tend to cut out of the strike zone. Moving to the third base side of the rubber is a small, but significant, adjustment to keep his pitches in the zone.
"I think it's going to get better every outing," Moss said. "I'm getting back to where I feel good about my mechanics."
AROUND THE DIAMOND: Outfielder B.J. Surhoff underwent successful surgery Wednesday in Baltimore to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his right knee. Doctors said Surhoff suffered a complete tear April 27 when he fell chasing Astros catcher Gregg Zaun's ninth-inning triple and will need a year to recover. ... Former Braves outfielder Otis Nixon, who served as a guest instructor during spring training, has been hired as a part-time minor league roving instructor. Nixon, who holds Atlanta's single-season stolen base record of 72, set in 1991, will work with players on their baserunning and bunting, as well as offer instruction on outfield defense. ... First baseman Wes Helms is struggling at the plate with just seven hits in his last 42 at-bats (.167). He sat down Wednesday in favor of Julio Franco. ... Gary Sheffield, a career .300 hitter with runners in scoring position, is batting .214 in that situation this year. ... Reliever Chris Hammond has pitched 20 2/3 innings and issued 19 walks. Yet, the league is batting just .195 against him. ... Catcher Henry Blanco, back in the lineup Wednesday with Greg Maddux on the mound, has just four hits in his last 23 at-bats. ... Jason Marquis, who goes to the mound this afternoon in the series finale, was 1-0 with a 2.89 ERA in two games against the Giants last year, his only career appearances against them.
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