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Pitching for Today

Mitre is attempting to be trooper in order to make the start today, but just in case the Marlins have an insurance plan.

Sergio Mitre pronounced himself to be ''100 percent'' Monday and said he felt ready to take the mound. Mitre left his previous start after four innings because of a strained right hamstring, and no one was certain if he would be able to start today.

The Marlins have an insurance policy. They summoned a pitcher from the minors who could be activated today if Mitre can't pitch or if he re-injures his hamstring. But they won't make the roster move if they don't have to, and the mystery pitcher might just stay in Atlanta and get back on a plane to the minors.

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'I'm going to tell him to bunt, and when there's nobody on, I'll tell him don't even swing the bat,'' said manager FrediGonzalez, who doesn't want to see Mitre test the hamstring.

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''Everything is normal,'' Mitre said. ``It's just getting an extra day's rest. There is no pain [with the hamstring]. It's bearable. It's just sore. If it doesn't hurt I'll be out there.''

Oh boy, why am I not impressed with Serigo's medical assessment.  Let's see: "no pain" but it is "bearable" and "just sore".  That doesn't exactly inspire confidence.  It is good hear that the team has the backup plan already in Atlanta since Mitre may not be able to go.

The Marlins aren't the only ones wondering whether their starting pitcher will be good to go.  The Braves have their problems too.

Smoltz (7-2, 2.82 ERA) left his start last Tuesday after experiencing discomfort in his right shoulder warming up for the fourth inning and aggravating the right pinkie he'd dislocated two weeks earlier. The 40-year-old right hander, who gave up three runs in 3 1-3 innings but did not factor in the decision, was originally scheduled to start Sunday against the Chicago Cubs, but was moved back.

He did throw off a mound on Sunday and said he felt better. Manager Bobby Cox said he hasn't decided on a fall-back plan if Smoltz isn't ready Tuesday.

"I threw a lot better today," Smoltz said Sunday. "Today, I could have gotten guys out, whereas Friday when I threw, no way. So that's progress."

Neither team is prepared to go through this double header, but it will happen anyway.  If the two walking wounded players take the mound, maybe our youngster will perform better in the first game than their veteran in the second.  But honestly, both games are sounding like they will be slugfests to me.