Braves P John Smoltz said he felt no pain in his right elbow after throwing 75 to 80 pitches in a simulated game yesterday and hoped to return to the starting rotation Wednesday night.

His biggest concern was his control.

"It didn't hurt and I just felt a little rusty around the strike zone," he said.

Manager Bobby Cox liked what he saw.

"He threw good," Cox said. "He had good velocity. He threw 90-92 miles per hour. He was very impressive."

Cox said he would talk with Smoltz today to "see what he wants to do."

Smoltz has been the best pitcher for the Braves this season, bolting to a 5-0 start before losing May 10 to the Giants. The Braves put him on the 15-day disabled list May 17 with an inflamed right elbow.

MOUND OF CONCERN: AL President Gene Budig does not need a 95 mph fastball to back Jaret Wright off the plate and get inside the Indians pitcher's head.

Wright was hammered for eight runs and nine hits in a season-low 3 2/3 innings in Friday's 12-5 loss to the Red Sox. Wright said his poor start partially may have been caused by Budig requesting the right-hander appear in his office next week to discuss the pitcher's behavior on the mound. Wright, who earlier this season was suspended for five games for hitting Rex Sox OF Darren Lewis, was ordered in by Budig after being fined this week for his role in a brawl with the Tigers.

"I went out there trying not to let it, trying not to think about it, but I think it did a little bit," Wright said. "I think I was out there and I let it get into my head a little bit. . . . Still, there's no excuse for bad pitching."

SAVORED DEBUT: Testicular cancer gave Marlins rookie 3B Mike Lowell a scare, a new perspective and an extra reason to savor his NL debut.

Less than 24 hours after being recalled from Class AAA Calgary, Lowell was in the lineup for last night's game against the Reds. His season was sidetracked by surgery Feb. 21 to remove a small testicular mass found during a routine physical examination.

"From a life perspective, things have been put in their place because of this," the 25-year-old said.

"From a baseball standpoint, I don't think my attitude has changed."