10/02/2003 8:37 PM ET
Notes: Cox leaning toward Ortiz
CHICAGO -- Braves manager Bobby Cox says he hasn't decided on a Game 4 starter, but it seems like the veteran skipper is leaning toward bringing Russ Ortiz back on three days' rest.
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
"We haven't really come to a conclusion yet what we're going to do or the defining question we would have to ask ourselves," Cox said on Friday afternoon. "It's pretty hard with [Ortiz's] pitch counts so low not to have it in the back of your mind that he could go ahead and start very easily."
It was originally thought Cox may wait to see whether his team won Friday's Game 3 in the National League Division Series before deciding between Ortiz, who threw 104 pitches in Game 1, or rookie Horacio Ramirez.
But with Kent Mercker's back giving him problems for the second time this year, it seems like Cox would like to keep Ramirez in the bullpen to give him another left-handed reliever.
"As you know, Mercker was not available in [Wednesday] night's game," Cox said. "We had Ramirez warming up and Mercker may be ready for [Friday's] game. It's shortened our staff up a lot now."
Ray King, the only other left-handed reliever on Cox's Division Series roster, failed to get an out while facing just one batter (Kenny Lofton) in both Game 1 and Game 2.
Giles ready to go: Marcus Giles, who suffered a severely bruised left quadriceps muscle in Game 1, ran in the outfield at Wrigley Field during a Thursday afternoon workout and believes he'll be in the starting lineup on Friday.
"Unless something freak happens overnight and I can't get out of bed, I'm playing tomorrow," Giles said. "There will have to be a lot to happen for me not to play tomorrow."
Giles, who came off the bench to deliver a key RBI single in the sixth inning of Wednesday's win over the Cubs, said there has been dramatic improvement in his leg over the past few days.
"A couple of days ago I couldn't walk," Giles said. "Yesterday, I couldn't jog. [Thursday], I was jogging with ease and now I'm almost ready to run really hard."
With chilly temperatures expected in Chicago on Friday night, Giles will keep warm by riding on an exercise bike in between innings and have his leg heavily wrapped.
"I'm not really worried about the cold," said Giles, who suffered the injury when he was struck with Cubs first baseman Eric Karros' left elbow while attempting to beat out a groundball to third base.
Smoltz ready for Friday: With Thursday's day off, John Smoltz was given the opportunity to give his right elbow some much needed rest after throwing two innings and recording his 13th career postseason win on Wednesday night.
Cox strongly reiterated on Thursday that his decision to use Smoltz, who missed most of September with tendinitis in his right elbow, for two innings was one he felt was necessary. Had the Braves lost on Wednesday, they would have come to Chicago down 2-0 in the series and having to face Mark Prior in Game 3.
"We would have been complete idiots if we hadn't done it," Cox said.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or