ATLANTA -- While Tommy Hanson is aiming to pitch in an instructional league game within the next week, fellow Braves right-hander Jair Jurrjens has been forced to deal with the fact that a right knee injury could prevent him from pitching in the playoffs for the second straight year.
"I'm trying to stay positive and take it day by day, but it's something that you have to check on reality too," Jurrjens said. "In a way, are you going to be able to help this team out? Every athlete is going to say 'yes.' I could say, 'Yes, I will come and pitch.' But is the guy going to help? I don't know yet. That's the thing I'm doubtful [about]."
Jurrjens has been sidelined since Aug. 30 because of fatigue and discomfort caused by a bone bruise in his right knee. The 25-year-old pitcher has worn a knee brace for the past four days. But there still is no indication of when he might even be cleared to begin throwing again.
"It's frustrating and annoying," Jurrjens said. "Sometimes, it's tough to be around the guys right now. But I just have to deal with it and make the most of it."
Jurrjens entered the All-Star break leading the National League with a 1.87 ERA. After posting a 6.26 ERA in his first four starts after the break, he was placed on the disabled list. He returned two weeks later and struggled in three more starts before being shut down again.
Jurrjens believes he should have waited more than two weeks before returning from the DL last month. He believes he needed to spend a few additional weeks strengthening his right quad muscle to take pressure off his knee.
After having a torn meniscus repaired in his right knee via arthroscopic surgery in October, Jurrjens had to wait a couple of months before he was able to begin re-strengthening his right leg. He believes this might have set him back and caused the fatigue he has felt during the season's second half.
While Jurrjens might have to wait until next year to pitch again, Hanson is still hoping to return in time to make a regular-season start for the Braves and be ready to be a part of the postseason rotation. His right shoulder has responded favorably, as he has thrown on a regular basis over the past week.
After throwing off the mound Sunday, Hanson awoke Monday with normal soreness. The 25-year-old pitcher will likely throw another side session Wednesday and then possibly travel to Florida to make a rehab appearance in an instructional league game.
Fredi not panicking over Braves' struggles
ATLANTA -- The Braves have seen their once comfortable 8 1/2-game lead in the National League Wild Card race shrink by four games since the start of September, thanks in part to a disappointing 2-6 record on their last road trip.
But despite their recent performances -- which included sweeps at the hands of both Philadelphia and St. Louis -- manager Fredi Gonzalez said Monday that he has no intention of bring his team together for a clubhouse meeting.
"We're playing pretty good baseball, if you look at it," Gonzalez said. "I know the outcome is not what we want it to be. We wanted to be 6-2 on the road trip, not 2-6. But these guys are giving you everything they have."
The Braves sandwiched Thursday's doubleheader sweep of the Mets at Citi Field with disappointing series against both the Phillies and Cardinals. The Phils walked off in the finale on Thursday, while the Cards did the same in the 10th inning two days later.
Gonzalez has called just one team meeting this season, and that came on June 5, when the Braves dropped the final two games with the Mets at Citi Field. The Braves then reeled off six consecutive victories against the Marlins and Astros.
"My team meeting in New York wasn't a Knute Rockne speech or anything like that," Gonzalez said. "It was just, 'Hey, we're not playing good baseball. That's not the way the Atlanta Braves play baseball.' And that was it.
"To sit there and have a closed-door meeting, no, I'm not there yet."
Gonzalez said he has spoken with "half a dozen guys" individually, and feels the club is still playing well despite the recent outcomes. His only concern now is getting back on the winning side of things, as the Braves chase a second consecutive postseason berth.
"We need to win ballgames," he said. "Get back to winning series and take care of our own business."
Gonzalez back with Braves after missing series
ATLANTA -- Shortstop Alex Gonzalez returned to the Braves' lineup Monday against the Marlins after sitting out the three-game series in St. Louis over the weekend with lower back tightness.
"I think those three days have helped him," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "He progressed every day. He got better and better every day. He should be good to go today and maybe the rest of the way."
Gonzalez said he first felt the tightness in Philadelphia while taking ground balls before the game. A day later, it started to become troublesome.
"I was warming up and I felt it and the next day I woke up and [it was] kind of tight," the veteran shortstop said. "Loosened up a little bit, but the second game it grabbed me."
The tightness -- which Gonzalez said is actually in the hip near his rear -- has since lessened. He feels confident he'll be OK for the remainder of the regular season and into the playoffs.
"Right now it's gone down," he said. "Get it loose. It feels all right. I feel ready to go. I don't think it's anything to worry about."
Reliever George Sherrill -- who had been on the 15-day disabled list with left elbow inflammation -- likely won't be back before the weekend, manager Fredi Gonzalez said. Sherrill was eligible to come off the DL on Sunday, but is just now playing light catch. He'll likely throw a bullpen session later this week.
Right-hander Julio Teheran, who started the second game of Thursday's doubleheader with the Mets, is now available out of the bullpen. Fellow rookie righty Randall Delgado will start Wednesday against the Marlins, and it's likely that Teheran will remain as a reliever for the remainder of the regular season.
First baseman Freddie Freeman said his strained left quadriceps has significantly improved and that he can now run relatively pain-free. The strain, which started in the quad before moving to the hip, had bothered the rookie for about three weeks.