ATLANTA - The Atlanta Braves will make a decision today regarding the future of outfielder George Lombard.
On the disabled list since March 12 with a strained right calf, the former Lovett High star is eligible to be activated after completing a 20-day rehabilitation stint at Class AAA Richmond and Class AA Greenville.
There's just one problem.
Lombard is out of options, and the Braves will either have to activate him, or place him on waivers which would make him available to the 29 other teams. If Lombard clears waivers, the Braves could assign him back to Richmond, although it's almost certain that another team would make a claim.
A trade is also a possibility.
"This whole situation is frustrating because I want to play, that's the bottom line," said Lombard, who took batting practice before Tuesday night's game with Detroit. "I guess we'll find out (today)."
If the Braves do decide to keep Lombard, the question becomes who will Atlanta send down.
Outfielder Darren Bragg (.258, one home run and six RBI) and Matt Franco (.364, two home runs and five RBI) are two possibilities, but manager Bobby Cox likes both players and might not be inclined to disrupt his team which enjoys a 5 1/2 game lead in the National League East over second-place Montreal.
Atlanta could demote a relief pitcher, but that scenario appears unlikely.
The 26-year-old Lombard hit .343 at Richmond after batting .280 at Greenville during his rehab stint.
"I realize there's the possibility I might not be with Atlanta, but I have no control over that," said Lombard, who chose baseball after signing a football scholarship with Georgia. "Being I'm from here, I'd love to play with Atlanta. If not, I'll make the best of whatever situation I'm offered. I'm just ready to play."
INJURY UPDATES: Greg Maddux said Tuesday he will make his next scheduled start on Thursday against the Tigers at Turner Field.
Maddux strained his left calf while covering first base in the sixth inning of Saturday's game against Boston.
"It's fine, no problem," Maddux said. "I'm ready to go."
Third baseman Vinny Castilla took batting practice, but did not start Tuesday against the Tigers. Wes Helms started in his place.
Castilla, who suffered a mild right hamstring pull Saturday against Boston, has 12 hits in his last 25 at-bats.
Also, second baseman Marcus Giles (severely sprained ankle) had hoped to begin a rehab assignment this weekend, but said Tuesday he's now unsure if he will after all.
AROUND THE DIAMOND: Proceeds from the "Jersey Off Their Backs" promotion, which was held on Saturday night, raised over $60,000 for the Braves Foundation and Muscular Dystrophy Association. After the game, 15 winners, who had purchased scratch-off tickets, came on the field to receive game-worn jerseys from various Braves players. ... On the remaining Wednesdays throughout the season, the Braves will call on former team members to appear throughout the stadium to reacquaint them with the fans. Tonight, Greg McMichael, Mark Lemke, Roy Hartsfield and Terry Blocker will be featured. ... Hall of Fame Tigers announcer Ernie Harwell, a Washington, Ga. native who began his career in Atlanta announcing Atlanta Crackers games during the 1940s on WSB Radio, was honored before Tuesday's game in an on-field ceremony. ... Atlanta's bullpen boasts an earned run average of 2.47, tops in the major leagues. ... After making 43 errors in their first 45 games, the Braves have made only nine in their last 24 contests.
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