SAN FRANCISCO -- Matt Diaz spent the past six months attempting to find the consistency he possessed while combining to hit .316 for the Braves over the four previous seasons. But the veteran outfielder's struggles didn't prove significant enough for manager Bobby Cox to lose all confidence in him.
When Cox constructed his lineup to oppose Giants right-handed ace Tim Lincecum in Game 1 of the National League Division Series at AT&T Park on Thursday night, he didn't opt to put Nate McLouth in left field. Instead, he chose to give Diaz another chance to prove he can hit right-handed pitchers.
"Matty started the last game in Atlanta and he hit balls hard, and two of 'em were off right-handers," Cox said. "If he's going to hit righties or lefties, doesn't make any difference if he's hot, and we had to pick one and I picked him."
Diaz prolonged a career-long trend while hitting .273 against left-handers and .223 against right-handers this year.
But when McLouth was unable to extend the offensive prowess he showed in early September and Melky Cabrera continued to be a liability in the field and at the plate, Cox had little choice but to go with Diaz in left field.
McLouth has one hit and four strikeouts in six career at-bats against Lincecum. Diaz entered Thursday with one hit in three career at-bats against the Giants' ace.
Hanson 'good to go' after foul ball to eye
SAN FRANCISCO -- Tommy Hanson gave the Braves a scare when he was struck above the right eye with a ball that he fouled during batting practice before Game 1 of the National League Division Series at AT&T Park on Thursday night.
But before leaving the stadium after the 1-0 loss suffered by the Braves, Hanson said he will be ready to start Game 2 against the Giants on Friday night (9:30 p.m. ET on TBS).
"I'm good to go," Hanson said. "No problem at all."
It was difficult to even see a mark above Hanson's right eye. Taking the precautionary route, the Braves have scheduled a doctor to further evaluate him Friday morning.
If Hanson isn't able to make Friday night's start, the Braves could go with Game 3 scheduled starter Tim Hudson, who would be pitching on regular rest.
Saito, Jurrjens set for instructional league
SAN FRANCISCO -- Braves manager Bobby Cox said he was tempted to place Takashi Saito on his National League Division Series roster. But he opted to instead allow the 40-year-old reliever to spend the next couple of days strengthening his shoulder and improving his command while pitching in the instructional league.
When Saito tested his arm during a bullpen session Wednesday, he felt better than he had while completing the same drill 24 hours earlier. But the Japanese hurler, who has been sidelined since Sept. 17, still struggled with his command.
"His arm feels pretty good," Cox said. "He was rusty in the bullpen yesterday. The ball wasn't going where he wanted it to on every pitch and he is a strikeout pitcher. He's got great control, and he's got to have that control."
Saito will pitch in an instructional league game Saturday.
Jair Jurrjens, who has been sidelined since Sept. 14 with a sore right knee, will pitch in an instructional league game Monday or Tuesday.
Cox said he remains hopeful that Saito and Jurrjens would be available if the Braves advance to the NL Championship Series.
Braves want 11 for No. 6, don shirts for Cox
SAN FRANCISCO -- Braves manager Bobby Cox has spent this season trying to deflect attention away from his impending retirement. But now that Atlanta has reached the postseason, his players are wearing the desire to give him one more World Series on their chests.
Before opening their National League Division Series against the Giants at AT&T Park on Thursday night, many of the Braves players were wearing T-shirts that read "11 FOR 6." It stands for the 11 wins they need to claim to give Cox, who wears No. 6, a celebratory conclusion to his legendary career.
"It's amazing that you're just 11 wins away from something you've waited for your whole life," Braves outfielder Matt Diaz said before Thursday's game. "It kind of hit home. But you've got to get one [win] first."
Braves aim to pack Turner Field for Game 3
SAN FRANCISCO -- The Braves have been encouraged by the amount of tickets that fans have already purchased for Games 3 and 4 of the National League Division Series. But they are still attempting to ensure Turner Field will be packed like it was last weekend, when more than 150,000 fans attended a three-game series against the Phillies.
More than 42,000 tickets have already been sold for Sunday afternoon's Game 3 matchup against the Giants at 4:30 p.m. ET on TBS. While there are more tickets available for Monday night's Game 4 (8:30 p.m. on TBS), the club revealed Thursday that they were being sold at a steady pace.
The Braves announced that they also still have a limited amount of nine-game ticket strips available that would guarantee fans a ticket to each of the postseason games (two NLDS games, three NL Championship Series games and three World Series games) that could be played at Turner Field.
Fans who are picking up their tickets at will call for Games 3 or 4 of the NLDS are encouraged to claim them at the Turner Field ticket windows Friday between 8:30 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturday between 9 a.m.and 5 p.m., or on Sunday starting as early as 9 a.m.
Access to Turner Field parking lots will be limited to fans with parking permits, which can be purchased at braves.com. Those fans without a parking permit are urged to use MARTA.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.