The Braves have done an excellent job staying in the thick of the NL East, and they're about to get bullpen reinforcements that could make them a tough team late in games.
, who opened the season as the closer, returned from the disabled list Wednesday, and starter-turned-reliever-turned-starter-turned-reliever
could be back tomorrow. Smoltz is now using a three-quarters delivery to ease pain in his shoulder. If he's healthy, he could give the Braves some devastating short bursts as a setup man or closer. The Braves' bullpen could get another boost before the month is out as lefty
completes his rehab from Tommy John surgery. . . . Florida's
said this about
to the Palm Beach Post: "He's kind of the
of this era." . . . Marlins reliever
for the leadership he has brought to the club. "I didn't know there was someone in baseball that could come in and affect a clubhouse in such a positive way, but we found him. He brings guys together. He knows what it takes and guys follow him."
Miller has been a key piece in the Marlins' bullpen since being released from the Phillies' triple-A team in April 2007. He pitched in 62 games last season and was 5-0 with a 3.65 ERA. "It's worked out great for me," the righthander said. What happened with the Phillies? "I was in Japan in 2006. I signed late. There was no shot at going to big-league camp. They brought me to minor-league camp as a starter. I wanted to relieve. We broke for the season and they picked up someone off the waiver wire. Someone had to go. It was either me,
. I was the odd man out." . . . Entering Friday, Florida's
had 12 hits in May. Nine were homers. . . . The Royals entered last night mired in a 12-game losing streak. It started May 19 when they were no-hit by Boston's