Originally created 05/11/05

Smoltz to take mound today



DENVER - After four days of what he called mental Pingpong, John Smoltz ultimately decided early Tuesday evening that he would make his scheduled start this afternoon at Coors Field.

Smoltz's status had been up in the air because of a strained back, which he suffered early last week in a coughing fit.

The ailment limited his last start to five innings, a win against Houston.

Smoltz (3-3, 3.05 ERA) will start against Colorado's Byung-Hyun Kim (0-3, 7.62) in the series finale.

"It's real easy when you don't feel good to not go out there," he said. "I've never been one of those guys. As long as I feel like I can compete, I'll go out there."

Smoltz also said he thought it was important to keep the rotation in a good flow. The plan, if Smoltz couldn't go, was to start Horacio Ramirez on four days rest.

As it stands now, Ramirez will be able to throw Friday against his hometown team, the Los Angeles Dodgers.

All of that was in question, though, Tuesday afternoon, when Smoltz wrestled with what to do.

He took batting practice and said he felt good enough to go. Well, as good as could be expected with a sore back.

"I don't think I'll be flying around the basepaths (today) or anything," he said.

NO COORS FAN: After one official start at Coors Field, Tim Hudson's seen enough.

In Colorado's 7-6 victory Monday, Hudson gave up seven runs and didn't make it out of the fourth inning in his National League debut at the park that's been a pitcher's arch-nemesis since it was erected.

"You kind of know what you get when you come in here," Hudson said. "You kind of take it for what it is. I'm not too worried about this outing. If I'm somewhere else, it might be a little bit different story."

Home runs are typically the culprit to pitchers here. That wasn't the case with Hudson, who gave up seven singles and three doubles.

Reach Travis Haney at travis.haney@morris.com.