04/11/10 1:52 AM ET
Heyward not concerned by mini-slump
Braves rookie expects to make adjustments
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
Chipper well enough to take grounders
SAN FRANCISCO -- Chipper Jones is still feeling the discomfort caused by his strained right oblique muscle. But the Braves third baseman felt strong enough to take some grounders and remain on the field during batting practice before Saturday night's game against the Giants at AT&T Park."It feels better, but I'm still probably a day away from really testing it," said Jones, who received a cortisone shot a short time after exiting the third inning of Thursday night's game at Turner Field with the oblique strain. With rain predicted to fall on the Bay Area most of Sunday, the Braves and Giants may not be able to play their series finale. If the game is played, Jones thinks there is at least a chance that he could be in the lineup against two-time Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum. But Jones agreed that it seems more likely that he will make his return during Monday afternoon's series opener against the Padres in San Diego.
Cox keeps Diaz in left field
SAN FRANCISCO -- Braves manager Bobby Cox has told his outfielders that he isn't committed to utilizing any strict platoons and he proved this Saturday night, when he opted to put Matt Diaz in left field to oppose Giants right-handed starter Todd Wellemeyer."I told them everybody is going to play," Cox said. Entering the season, there was reason to believe Cox would utilize the switch-hitting Melky Cabrera in left field when the opposing team was starting a right-handed pitcher. While this might be the arrangement that is utilized most of the time, it appears that Diaz's time in left field won't be limited to the games when a left-hander is serving as the opposition. After playing the entirety of Friday's 13-inning loss, Cabrera was likely in line to benefit from a chance to rest. In addition, while recording just two hits in his first 18 at-bats, the former Yankee has seemingly opened the door for more playing time to be provided to Diaz, who batted a career-best .313 last year. With Cabrera out of the lineup Saturday, center fielder Nate McLouth was placed back in the leadoff role that he lost when he struggled during Spring Training.
Medlen shows maturity in second season
SAN FRANCISCO -- While pitching the final two innings of Friday's 13-inning loss to the Giants, Kris Medlen didn't look like the same wide-eyed rookie who had stood on this same AT&T Park mound 11 months earlier and struggled through a losing 5 1/3-inning start."The first month or so in the big leagues last year, that wasn't me," Medlen said. "I know I'm a nervous guy to begin with. But I feel a lot more comfortable and it's a lot easier to just be yourself with the dudes that we have on the team." Medlen entered Friday's game in the 12th inning and managed to keep the game tied after Pablo Sandoval greeted him with an opposite-field bloop double. Sandoval advanced to third base on a sacrifice bunt and then was left stranded when the Braves right-hander ended the inning with a weak groundout and strikeout. One inning later, Medlen issued a one-out walk to Juan Uribe, who advanced to third base on an errant throw from Brian McCann and then scored the winning run on Aaron Rowand's two-out infield single. While Medlen was saddled with the tough-luck loss, his effort provided Braves manager Bobby Cox even more reason to believe he's capable of serving as a versatile reliever, who can be a long man or get clutch outs during the middle innings. "He threw great [Friday]," Cox said. "He's pretty valuable."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.