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Baseball / Daily Report : DODGERS : Belcher Likely to Start Thursday

Tim Belcher said that while his injured right groin affected his pitch selection Saturday, he should be ready to make his next start Thursday against the Houston Astros at Dodger Stadium.

“I don’t think I aggravated it. I don’t think I re-pulled it, so I should be fine,” Belcher said. “It hurt a little bit today at the start, but that went away.”

Where the groin really hurt Belcher was in his pitching style. Because he was unwilling to apply full force to the leg, he could not deliver his best fastballs.

The good news for Belcher was that he was able to fool the Braves with split-finger fastballs, recording the first five outs of the game on strikeouts. But when the breaking pitches didn’t work, he walked four batters, including Ron Gant with the bases loaded in the third inning.

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If Belcher is ready to start Thursday, the only question concerning the rotation remains Orel Hershiser’s shoulder, even though he will start Monday against Cincinnati as scheduled.

If Hershiser cannot start against Atlanta in Dodger Stadium next weekend, Bob Ojeda and Mike Morgan will probably work on three days rest each to compensate. Ramon Martinez will start in the opener Friday.

The Braves’ rotation is expected to be left-handers Steve Avery, Charlie Leibrandt and Tom Glavine.

Jay Howell confirmed that he would not pitch this weekend when he canceled a throwing session Saturday. He said it was canceled because his tender right elbow felt “so strong.”

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Said Howell: “It felt so good, (therapist) Pat Screnar wanted me to give it one more day and build on that good feeling.”

Howell has not pitched since Sept. 3.

Brett Butler, who walked twice in the first two innings, is two walks shy of becoming the first Dodger in 16 years to draw at least 100. Jim Wynn drew a club-record 110 in 1975.


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