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Options open, but Cox prefers Smoltz as starter

WASHINGTON - Bobby Cox prefers having John Smoltz in Atlanta's rotation.

That doesn't mean the Braves manager isn't open to talking about having the right-hander return to the bullpen after his stint on the disabled list.

Asked Wednesday whether Smoltz could go back to being a closer, Cox said: 'We are always thinking about it.'

In the next breath, Cox added: 'I like him as a starter.'

The 40-year-old Smoltz went on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday with an ailing right shoulder. He began the season on the DL with tightness in the back of his shoulder, but after being activated, he went 3-1 with an 0.78 ERA in his first four starts.

Smoltz, the only pitcher in major league history with at least 200 wins and 150 saves, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution he would consider going back to relieving.

'Right now I'm sitting at ground zero, taking it day by day, looking at every option to help this team get to the playoffs and end my career the way I'd like to end it,' he told the newspaper.

Asked how serious the discussions about Smoltz's role had been, Cox said: 'Who knows until we get the results of all this?'