ATLANTA -- While facing live hitters for the first time in nearly a month, Tom Glavine didn't experience any concerning discomfort with his troublesome left shoulder. But his three-inning simulated game staged at Turner Field on Monday afternoon still left him with a bruise that prompted laughter throughout the Braves' clubhouse.
After throwing a misplaced cutter that hung over the middle of the plate, Glavine was stung on the left hip with a line drive off Greg Norton's bat. While the impact will likely leave a noticeable bruise, it didn't prevent the 43-year-old left-hander from completing his outing.
"I told Norton that I've gotten hit a lot harder with slap shots," said Glavine, a former hockey phenom who was selected by the Los Angeles Kings in the second round of the 1984 NHL Draft.
As soon as it was apparent that Glavine wasn't fazed by the liner, Norton and a handful of his teammates shared some laughs behind the batting cage.
"If I was fast enough, I'd have run and caught that ball before it hit him," said Norton, while remembering that he also hit former Braves pitchers Kent Mercker and Mike Hampton with comebackers during simulated games.
As long as his shoulder is still cooperating, Glavine plans to throw three or four innings during a Minor League rehab start with Triple-A Gwinnett on Saturday. While he once said that he'd like to return to the Atlanta rotation before the end of this month, he now knows that he's going to need at least two rehab starts.
"I probably need a couple based on the way I felt today," Glavine said. "It's a big difference when you get hitters in there."
It was the first time that Glavine had faced hitters since feeling a strain in his left shoulder during an April 12 rehab start with Double-A Mississippi. The near-perfect location that he'd produced during bullpen sessions in Philadelphia and New York over the course of the previous 10 days wasn't as apparent.
Without the benefit of a radar gun, Glavine could only surmise that the velocity of his fastball was sitting around the 80-mph mark that he routinely hit during Spring Training. But at the same time, he was once again encouraged by the fact that the baseball seemed to leave his hand easier than it had in March, when he referred to his shoulder discomfort as "crankiness."
"I wasn't inhibited while throwing any of my pitches," Glavine said.
Glavine's early exit from his April 12 rehab start came after he felt a strain during a swing. He says that he'll be "ultra conservative" if he needs to swing the bat during Saturday's game with Gwinnett.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.