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Manager Bobby Cox said Friday that John Smoltz is likely to return as the Atlanta Braves' closer when he comes off the disabled list. "It would be great if he could be out there and be part of that bullpen," Cox said. "It may be easier on that shoulder. I can visualize him locking up a lot of games for us." Smoltz has a severely inflamed biceps tendon and inflammation of the rotator cuff of his right shoulder. There is no immediate timetable for Smoltz to return to the 25-man roster. Rafael Soriano and Peter Moylan each had a save this year before going on the DL. Manny Acosta, currently in the closing role, is 2-1 with 3.95 ERA and two saves in two chances. Mike Gonzalez, who had 24 saves for Pittsburgh in 2006, is another option to close, but the left-hander is still recovering from elbow ligament replacement surgery last year.
Had Soriano not experienced elbow problems of his own and remained on the diamond all season, these talks about Smoltz moving to the closer's role would likely never happened. But as luck has it, Soriano appears out of a job as a closer when he returns. Stay tuned in case the Braves change their tune, but it appears as though Soriano will become just a Fantasy middle reliever upon his return.
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