ATLANTA (AP) -The Atlanta Braves are awaiting updates on injured stars Chipper Jones and John Smoltz before the team opens a weekend series against the Cubs in Chicago on Friday.
The Braves will watch closely as Jones tests his sore right thumb and Smoltz finds out if a sore shoulder and finger hamper his ability to throw.
Jones, a third baseman, has missed seven consecutive games and could be placed on the disabled list on Friday if he can't play.
Smoltz, who said he felt fine after playing catch on Wednesday, may be able to determine if he'll be ready for Sunday's scheduled start against the Cubs when he tries to throw harder in a side session.
Jones and Smoltz lead the Braves in seniority and also are keys to the team's hopes in the NL East. The Braves, who are off Thursday, are four games behind New York entering the Mets' game against San Francisco on Thursday night.
Smoltz, 40, left Tuesday night's game in the fourth inning. He irritated a sore little finger on his pitching hand while batting and then felt discomfort in his right shoulder while warming up on the mound.
Smoltz dislocated the finger on May 14 tagging Washington's Austin Kearns. He bounced back quickly to win his next two starts - going 2-0 with 14 scoreless innings.
The sore right shoulder could be a more serious concern for Smoltz, but he was pleased after his light throwing on Wednesday.
Thursday provided another reminder of the Braves' growing injury concerns. Reliever Mike Gonzalez was to have elbow ligament-replacement surgery Thursday in Birmingham, Ala., a procedure that normally requires a full year for recovery.
Gonzalez, who had a 1.59 ERA with two saves in 17 innings, was the team's top left-handed reliever and joined Rafael Soriano as the top set-up men for closer Bob Wickman.
The Braves felt the loss of Jones when they were outscored 27-13 while being swept in a three-game series by the Philadelphia Phillies last weekend. The Braves recovered to win two of three at Milwaukee, including a 9-3 victory on Wednesday night.
In seven games without Jones, Atlanta's fill-in starters at third base - Martin Prado, Chris Woodward and Pete Orr - have not driven in a run.
Jones is hitting .300 with 12 homers and 27 RBIs. He needs two homers to match Dale Murphy's Atlanta record of 371.
Jones bruised both thumbs in a May 11 collision with Pittsburgh's Jose Bautista, causing him to miss four games. He returned to his starting job at third base but then hurt his right thumb again in a May 22 game.
Jones hasn't played since he had a cortisone shot in his right thumb following a game on May 23.
The Braves have some pitching help coming this week. Right-hander Lance Cormier, who won a spot in the rotation in spring training but went on the disabled list before the start of the season with a strained triceps, is expected to be activated to pitch on Tuesday.

Top MLB Public Bets


MLB Top Stories

Thumbnail World Series opener pits Lester vs. Kluber Two title-starved organizations are ready to kick off one of the most intriguing World Series matchups we’ve seen in some time.
Thumbnail Kershaw tries to keep visitors' run going The Cubs seized a 3-2 edge in the NLCS by winning Games 4 and 5 in Los Angeles. Will Clayton Kershaw be able to save the Dodgers’...
Thumbnail North Siders' bats rise as NCLS progresses Anthony Rizzo is still batting well below .200 in the playoffs. Yet the Chicago first baseman seems to be heating up at precisely...
Thumbnail Hosts ask Urias to give them 3-1 NLCS edge Tonight, Julio Urias will make history in Game 4 of the NLCS. The Dodgers simply hope that it’s for all the right reasons.
Thumbnail Francona needs relief corps to thrive again The Blue Jays suddenly have life in the NLCS. Now, though, can they truly put fear in the Indians and send the festivities back to northern...
More inMLB Articles  

MLB Team Pages