Boston's John Smoltz is healthy enough to make his next scheduled start on Thursday. The Red Sox' righthander just doesn't know if it will be against the Florida Marlins or another rehabilitation assignment for Triple A Pawtucket as he works his way back from shoulder surgery.

Red Sox manager Terry Francona said before yesterday's game against the Phillies that a decision will be made in the next day or so. Smoltz, who is continuing his comeback from surgery last June to repair a torn labrum, said he could wait.

Smoltz is the only pitcher in major league history with at least 200 victories and 150 saves. He's made five minor league rehab starts, and allowed four runs and six hits in a six-inning outing Friday night.

Smoltz agreed to a $5.5 million, 1-year deal with the Red Sox in January after 20 seasons with the Atlanta Braves.

In other injury-related news:

* Six-time Gold Glove third baseman Eric Chavez, of the Oakland Athletics, will have back surgery next week and be out the rest of the season. He already was on the 60-day disabled list with a herniated disk and strained right forearm.

* Los Angeles Angels reliever Scot Shields (patella tendinitis) will have season-ending surgery tomorrow.

* Colorado setup man Taylor Buchholz will have season-ending Tommy John surgery on his right elbow this week.

* New York Mets outfielder Gary Sheffield will get an MRI on his sore right knee.

* Tampa Bay Rays reliever Jason Isringhausen will undergo an MRI exam on his injured right elbow today.

* Texas closer Frank Francisco (shoulder stiffness) was put on the disabled list for the second time this season.


* The Chicago Cubs fired hitting coach Gerald Perry after 2 1/2 seasons. *