Eric Milton is probably going to pitch in that Hall of Fame Game a week from Monday and if he looks ok may return after that.

Reds may test Milton in exhibition
Pitcher could face Pirates, and if he does well, he would likely return to the rotation.
By Hal McCoy

PHOENIX | To a major-league baseball player, an off-day is three ounces of pure gold and/or free gas for the Mercedes. It is savored, appreciated and guarded.

So the Cincinnati Reds aren't doing Ozzie Smith back flips over what happens a week from Monday an exhibition game in Cooperstown, N.Y. in the Hall of Fame game against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

What perplexes them is that not only are they giving up a day off to play a midseason game that means nothing, they are playing the Pirates, against whom they play the next three days in Pittsburgh in games that count.

To Eric Milton and the Reds pitching rotation, the game could have important implications.

If Milton continues to progress from the left knee surgery he underwent April 24, he could be the starting pitcher that day in Cooperstown. And if that goes well, he could be back in the rotation shortly thereafter.

Milton threw 50 pitches in the bullpen in Cincinnati on Friday, and General Manager Wayne Krivsky said, "The report I received said everything went well and he'll probably throw 50 pitches again (today)."

Krivsky said if Milton is recovered enough to pitch a few innings in Cooperstown, it would greatly aid the club.

What clubs normally do is call up minor-leaguers to pitch major-league exhibition games, and Krivsky plans to do that, "But it is tough for us because all of our affiliates have games that day, and I don't want to wreck one of those teams for one day by taking three or four pitchers.

"What we'll probably do is bring up two pitchers from three different teams, but if Milton can pitch, that certainly would help us and be a big step for him, too."