Originally created 04/09/03

Byrd will miss scheduled start



PHILADELPHIA - Atlanta Braves pitcher Paul Byrd admitted Tuesday that his right elbow is still bothering him and he won't make Thursday's start against the Philadelphia Phillies.

During an impromptu afternoon meeting with manager Bobby Cox, the right-hander indicated he felt pain in the back of his elbow and the team plans to re-evaluate him during the next several days.

"I'm not 100 percent," Byrd said. "I don't really mind the pain. My game is putting the ball on the corners."

Asked whether the pain affected his command, he replied, "Sometimes yes, sometimes no."

Cox had not made a decision late Tuesday afternoon who would replace Byrd. He was considering a trio of rookie pitchers to make the start - Trey Hodges, Joe Dawley and Jung Bong - or could decide to piece the game together with all three.

"I'm tossing a million things around with the front office," Cox said. "We'll have to wait and see how it goes tonight."

Cox had to wait because if he used either of the three pitchers in relief of Jason Marquis, Tuesday night's starter, that pitcher would be eliminated from Thursday's game.

Cox still had Byrd, who went on the 15-day disabled list with elbow tendinitis March 21, penciled into the rotation Tuesday afternoon. When reporters raised a question about a Plan B if Byrd couldn't go, or if his elbow flared up early in the game, Cox said, "We're not prepared for that one."

About a half-hour later, after meeting with Byrd, Cox pulled the plug on his start.

HAMPTON UPDATE: Mike Hampton might beat Byrd off the disabled list.

The left-hander, out since March 28 with a strained right calf, is not hampered by the injury while throwing off a mound, but he can't make a quick break or run yet.

"He could pitch right now, he's full-bore," pitching coach Leo Mazzone said. "As soon as (trainers) say his calf is OK, he can jump in."

Cox raised the possibility of Hampton making a start on this 10-day, nine-game trip, depending on how quickly his calf heals.

"We'll keep watching it," said Cox, who indicated that Hampton might not make a minor league rehab start before rejoining the rotation.

HELPFUL TIP: Greg Maddux, who has been hammered for 17 hits and 11 runs in his first nine innings this season en route to an 0-2 record, got some coaching tips from Mazzone two days ago.

"He said, 'I don't want to throw it down the middle anymore,"' Mazzone said. "And I said, 'well, don't do that then."'

"How's that for coaching?"

Mazzone could detect nothing wrong with Maddux's mechanics during a bullpen session. The only problem, Mazzone noted, was Maddux's pitches are moving too much.

"The ball is moving, it's live," Mazzone said. "But it's moving right toward the middle of the plate."

Working on three days rest, which Maddux said last week has improved his command in the past, he will go tonight against the Phillies in pursuit of career win No. 274.

IT'S HOW COLD? The temperature at game time Tuesday night was 37 degrees, with a wind chill in the high 20s. Parkas and woolen caps were handed out to the players, and clubhouse attendants assured coach Bobby Dews that a heater would be available in the bullpen.

"The cold makes you concentrate on hitting the ball on the sweet spot," left fielder Chipper Jones said. "If you don't, you feel it for two innings."

Said right fielder Gary Sheffield: "You just try and put the cold out of your mind. Still, it's hard to catch and throw the ball with your hands numb."

Infielder Mark DeRosa, who grew up in New Jersey and attended Penn, said, "All you can do is wear some extra long underwear."

Reach Bill Zack at bzack30143@aol.com.