ATLANTA -- Matt Diaz was cleared to begin a Minor League rehab assignment on Saturday with Triple-A Gwinnett. The Braves outfielder, who has been sidelined since May 14 with a right thumb infection, will likely play at least eight rehab games before being activated from the disabled list.
Diaz's infection was caused by a splintered piece of wood that was surgically removed last month. He underwent a similar procedure in October, while dealing with the same issue.
In other injury-related news, Braves backup catcher David Ross said that he has started feeling some relief in his bruised right hand. Still, the club opted to further examine his hand via a CT-Scan that was performed on Saturday morning.
"He's good to go, but not very good to go," Braves manager Bobby Cox said.
If pressed into an emergency situation, Cox said he could use Brooks Conrad or possibly even Yunel Escobar at the catcher's position.
Wagner nursing sore left ankle
ATLANTA -- Billy Wagner thinks he could be ready to pitch again as soon as Sunday. But as the Braves experienced a stress-filled ninth inning during Saturday afternoon's 4-3 win over the Tigers, the veteran closer could do nothing but nurse his sore left ankle.
Wagner has spent the past week dealing with discomfort that has been present since he rolled his left ankle during an appearance last week against the Rays. It didn't bother him when he needed just 10 pitches to record three strikeouts and notch his 400th career save on Friday night.
But when Wagner began warming up in the eighth inning of Saturday's victory, he knew his aggravated ankle was going to prevent him from pitching effectively. Thus Braves manager Bobby Cox called upon Takashi Saito to protect what was a three-run lead at the start of the ninth inning.
"We taped it up, and I went out there and tried to throw," Wagner said. "It was affecting how I was throwing. I tried to go through my normal routine, but I couldn't push off when I tried to throw."
Believing that Wagner is simply dealing with an inflamed nerve, the Braves gave the veteran closer a cortisone shot after Saturday's game. Still walking with a very noticeable limp as he made his way back to his locker, the 38-year-old left-hander doesn't believe he is dealing with a serious issue.
"I'll be fine for tomorrow," Wagner said. "It just depends on how I respond when I get here."
Leyland impressed by Medlen
ATLANTA -- Tigers manager Jim Leyland praised Kris Medlen on Friday night. He then returned to Turner Field on Saturday morning ready to talk more about how much the young Braves right-hander had impressed him with his ability to dominate a game without the luxury of having an overpowering fastball.
"The kid, he was an artist and it must be working," Leyland said. "He's won about five in a row. There's room for a lot of different types of people in this game. You don't just have to throw it 96 mph. I thought he was very impressive.
"Like I said, I was here and saw [Tom] Glavine throwing 84, then one 82, then one 87, then one 88, then one 80." Leyland added. "I saw [Greg] Maddux. Then I saw [John] Smoltz, in between them, throwing 90-something. That's pitching. It's enjoyable."
Medlen encountered some first-inning struggles on Friday night, but still managed to limit the Tigers to one run and six hits in 6 2/3 innings. In his nine starts this year, the 24-year-old right-hander has gone 4-0 with a 3.40 ERA. He has recorded 22 strikeouts and issued just four walks in the 33 1/3 innings that have encompassed his past five outings.
"If you watch on TV every night, if you really watch the games, you'd be shocked at the number of pitches that the catcher has set up outside and the guy threw it up and in, or the guy is set inside and [the pitcher] threw it away," Leyland said. "That's the secret to pitching, being able to throw the ball where you want to, in my opinion. The guy last night did a great job of putting the ball where he wanted to. He was smart. He outfoxed us."
Bream, Murphy head celebrity softball game
ATLANTA -- Sid Bream sat in the Braves dugout Friday afternoon and made a bold prediction about what he'd accomplish during a celebrity softball game before Saturday's contest against the Tigers.
"I feel as though there's probably going to be a couple that go over the fence," Bream said. "I don't know whether that's the backstop fence or whether it's the one out there [in deep center-field]."
Turns out, it was neither.
Instead Bream smacked a home run over the right-field fence during the third inning of the celebrity game, the headlining event of this weekend's alumni festivities.
Local celebrities and former Braves competed in the softball game. The players were divided into two squads that were captained by Bream and beloved Braves Hall of Famer Dale Murphy.
The team names were Murph's MVPs, in recognition of the consecutive National League Most Valuable Player awards the Gold Glove outfielder won in 1982 and '83, and Sid's Sliders, in reference to his slide that concluded the 1992 National League Championship Series.
Murphy summed up the likely sentiments of many in attendance during some friendly pregame bantering with his counterpart, Bream.
"There's going to be a lot of batting going on. I don't know about hitting," he said.
Surprisingly enough, however, Sid's Sliders were a fairly well-oiled machine, knocking 18 hits during the seven-inning contest. Heck, after the Sliders went ahead, 9-2, in the bottom of the fifth, John Schuerholz -- who also doubled as the commissioner and official rule maker during the game -- changed the score back to 4-2.
He even traded Bream straight up for Murphy to narrow the edge.
"This is the first time we've done this in the first-ever Celeb Alumni Softball game," Schuerholz said. "They're two great players. [Murphy] is working with one knee and Bream hit a home run. On a personal basis, both teams did very well [with the trade]."
The move enabled Bream to continue his antics against the club bearing his name, as he joked when Otis Nixon came up to bat in the top of the fourth inning that, "He felt a bunt." Bream was a little off, as Nixon homered to right field.
By the end of seven innings, neither team could break a deadlocked 5-5 tie, forcing Schuerholz to declare the contest without a winner.
Mark Bowman is a reporter and Chris Hempson is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.