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08/23/09 7:32 PM ET

Anderson itching to get back on field

Atlanta (66-58) vs. San Diego (52-74), 7:00 p.m. ET

ATLANTA -- Garret Anderson has proven capable of living up to the expectations Braves manager Bobby Cox expressed when he said the veteran outfielder would prove to be a key piece to his lineup at some point this season.

But before Anderson takes advantage of the opportunity to help the Braves improve their postseason hopes, he must first make sure that he rids himself of the nagging discomfort caused by an aggravated sacroiliac joint.

While the ailment has forced him to miss three straight starts, Anderson at least remains hopeful that he could return to the lineup on Tuesday night, when the Braves begin a three-game series against the Padres at Turner Field.

"I'm looking forward to Tuesday, but don't crucify me if I don't play Tuesday and come back on Wednesday," said Anderson, who stepped into the on-deck circle during Sunday's seventh inning and likely would have been used as a pinch-hitter had the Braves not already tied the game.

Part of Anderson's reason for being somewhat non-committal stemmed from the fact that he still hadn't tested his lower back while running. But he dealt with the same ailment in 2005 and has since learned how to manage in a manner that it hasn't kept him sidelined for any extended stretches.

While the Braves would obviously like to have Anderson's bat back in their lineup as soon as possible, they certainly aren't going to complain if he needs an extra day of rest. Any impatience they might possess has more to do with the fact that they've recently found it difficult to find enough bodies to construct an outfield.

Nate McLouth, who isn't eligible to come off the disabled list until Aug. 31, was originally replaced in center field by Ryan Church, who was proving to be a key replacement up until Saturday, when he, too, was felled by the lower back discomfort caused by an aggravated sacroiliac joint.

The Braves are hopeful to have both Anderson and Church back on Tuesday. At the same time they feel fortunate to have claimed the final two games of this past weekend's series against the Marlins without their services.

Anderson missed most of Spring Training with a strained calf and played just 10 games before May 5 because of a hamstring injury. But once the 37-year-old outfielder regained his health and timing, he started showing some of the offensive skills that he'd possessed during his previous 15 seasons with the Angels.

In the 44 games he played from June 8-July 31, Anderson hit .335 with seven homers, a .370 on-base percentage and a .540 slugging percentage. In the 18 games that have followed he has hit just .233 with two homers and a .342 slugging percentage.

Anderson's best game this month occurred on Aug. 4, when he recorded a three-hit performance in a win over the Padres. One night earlier he'd gone hitless in his three at-bats against Mat Latos, who will start Tuesday night's series opener for San Diego.

Pitching matchup
ATL: RHP Jair Jurrjens (10-8, 2.99 ERA)
Backed by more than a dozen runs of offense, Jurrjens cruised through the middle innings last Wednesday against the Mets, allowing two stray runs but nothing else. He has now allowed four runs on 13 hits over his past 13 innings, striking out 10 and walking two. Jurrjens has faced the Padres once before in his career, last season, striking out eight batters over six innings of one-run ball for the win.

SD: RHP Mat Latos (4-3, 4.82 ERA)
The 21-year-old Latos, a rookie, has struggled in his past two starts. He allowed five runs to the Cubs on Aug. 19 in 3 2/3 innings, his shortest stint to date. That followed a start against the Cardinals on Aug. 14 in which he allowed seven runs in four innings. The right-hander, who figures to have as few as two starts remaining, also struggled with his command, walking four batters. His ERA has gone from 2.43 to 4.82 after being hit hard by two offensive-minded teams.

The Braves won two of the three games they played against the Padres earlier this month in San Diego. Their only loss occurred during the game started by Latos. ... Anderson needs just 31 more hits to give him 2,500 in his career. ... Braves top prospect Jason Heyward hit .425 with a .725 slugging percentage in 80 July at-bats with Double-A Mississippi. But in the 69 at-bats he'd registered this month entering Sunday, he was hitting just .246 with a .493 slugging percentage. ... With Tommy Hanson's effort on Saturday, the Braves notched their Major League-best 75th quality start of the season -- matching their 2008 total.

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On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television

On radio
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Up next
• Wednesday: Braves (Kenshin Kawakami, 6-9, 3.97) vs. Padres (Tim Stauffer, 1-6, 3.95), 7:00 p.m. ET
• Thursday: Braves (Javier Vazquez, 10-9, 3.14) vs. Padres (Clayton Richard, 7-3, 4.42), 7:00 p.m. ET
• Friday: Braves (Tommy Hanson, 9-2, 3.12) at Phillies (TBD), 7:05 p.m. ET

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.