Dotel not sure when he'll return

Associated Press
BREAKING THROUGH: John Smoltz worked eight innings for a second start in a row as the Braves beat the Cardinals 7-2 Friday night. He retired 12 of the final 13 batters he faced to win for just the fourth time in 11 regular-season decisions at St. Louis' Busch Stadium.

ST. LOUIS - Octavio Dotel said all week that Friday's bullpen session would give him a better idea of when he might be able to come off the disabled list. But it only left the Braves reliever shaking his head Saturday.

Dotel threw just 25 pitches Friday, the first time he has thrown off a mound since going on the DL with a right shoulder strain, and it did not go well. He said he felt pain afterward, and no further throwing activity has been scheduled.

"I'm going to be back, but I don't know when," Dotel said. "I don't like what I'm feeling. I was expecting something better than what I saw."

CLOSING THE DEAL: Manager Bobby Cox again declined to name a new closer on Saturday. But he said for now, Rafael Soriano would be his first choice to pitch the ninth inning.

That comes as welcome news to Soriano, who said he was hoping to become the team's closer next year.

"I think I can do it," he said. "They didn't say, 'Now you'll be the guy.' But to me, I think I'll be the guy."

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