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A settling on the hill

It's easy to look at Todd Redmond's 7-6 record and 4.31 ERA and shrug.

His 91 strikeouts and 36 walks don't stand out, low or high. He just breaks the top 10 in the International League in innings pitched. And thanks to three straight outings without allowing a home run, the right-hander's grip on the IL lead for homers given up has shrunk to one. Redmond made his 19th start of the season Tuesday, pitching six innings and winning his second straight start, giving him his first winning record since May 5.

But for the four starts before May 5 and every five days after, Redmond has trotted out to the mound for the Gwinnett Braves. His three relief appearances lasted starter length, with Redmond entering after short rehab starts in each. One game he was forced to enter after five pitches and a hasty warmup. He averages five-plus innings a game and has thrown as many as eight.

The G-Braves have started 19 different pitchers in their 111 games this season, but only Redmond has made it to the mound every five days. Nineteen starts is the team high and the next three pitchers on the list are no longer on the roster. Jonny Venters is second to Redmond in starts of active pitchers with 10, and he did not join the G-Braves until June 10.

But that is how it's been for Gwinnett this season. Starters come and go. There have been call-ups, trades, demotions and injuries. When the G-Braves had their first off day the rotation was Jerome Gamble (now in Class AA Mississippi), Charlie Morton (Pittsburgh), Redmond, Tommy Hanson (Atlanta) and Kris Medlen (Atlanta).

Following the call-up of Hanson and Medlen and the trade of Morton to the Pirates, the planned rotation was Jeff Lyman (Mississippi), Tony Armas (released), Francisley Bueno (G-Braves bullpen), Redmond and Deunte Heath (Mississippi).

"The season continues. We go on," pitching coach Derek Botelho said at the time. "When you do get call-ups it creates opportunities for other guys. The other guys have to pick up the slack."

And after a pair of signings and some patience, things started to settle down for Botelho and the G-Braves' staff.

Redmond started Tuesday and Venters will throw today, followed by Jo-Jo Reyes, James Parr and John Halama. Reyes and Parr each spent time with Atlanta and Halama was signed from the independent leagues. Parr returned from the disabled list on July 23 setting the current rotation and the G-Braves are 10-3 since. To make room for Parr's and Reyes' return, the team released Tony Armas and sent midseason-signee Bobby Brownlie to the bullpen.

"His move wasn't warranted by negative outings. It is really not deserved for him to go to the bullpen," Botelho said. "He has three really good outings for us and really had started to come on and be comfortable and pitch the way he is capable of pitching. But because of numbers he was the odd-man out."

Along with helping the G-Braves fight into a tie for first in the IL South with Durham, the rotation has eased pressure on the bullpen to cover innings at the end of the game.

"We got some young guys in there, we got some veterans, we've got some proven major-league starters with Reyes and with Parr," Botelho said. "It's all kind of come together pretty good so far. It makes my job a lot easier."

It's always easier knowing who is pitching ever day, instead of just every five.

"These guys have all been pretty consistent. We just have to keep it going," Botelho said. "We have 40-something games left and are making a push for the playoffs and we just keep doing what we are doing. Let's just ride it out and see what happens."

Who: Toledo Mud Hens

Where: Fifth Third Field, Toledo, Ohio

When: Today-Saturday, 7 p.m.; Sunday, 6:30 p.m.

Radio: WDUN 550-AM

Affiliation: Detroit Tigers

Manager: Larry Parrish

Season series: Gwinnett leads 4-0

Mud Hens update: The G-Braves could face RHP and major leaguer Jeremy Bonderman, who is with the Mud Hens on a major league rehab assignment. Bonderman threw one inning in relief Tuesday as he tries for a late-season comeback from an injured shoulder. ... With 30 stolen bases, third best in the IL, and a major league stint, No. 6 preseason prospect LF Wilkin Ramirez is making the most of his undrafted signing in 2003. The right-hander is hitting .274 with 13 homers and 40 RBIs.

Did you know? Tommy Hanson (Atlanta Braves), Tony Armas (released), Tom Glavine (released) and Charlie Morton (Pittsburgh Pirates) started the first four games of the year against Toledo and none are in the Gwinnett Braves rotation or bullpen now.