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05/18/10 8:08 PM ET

Braves giving Proctor time to build strength

ATLANTA -- When Scott Proctor posted an 11.25 ERA in the eight appearances he made for Triple-A Gwinnett earlier this year, it was obvious that he wasn't ready to return from the Tommy John surgery that he underwent on May 8, 2009.

In fact, the veteran reliever and the Braves determined that he needed to start his preseason preparations from scratch. He has spent the past month at the organization's Spring Training facility attempting to strengthen his arm and find some consistency with his delivery.

"We were very encouraged with what we saw out of Scott in Spring Training," Braves general manager Frank Wren said. "Once he got into a regular workload with Gwinnett, it was apparent that he needed more time. Rather than doing it haphazardly by starting the program in the middle, we went back to the start to make sure it's a progression we can continue to build off of."

Proctor has been throwing batting practice on a regular basis and was scheduled to complete a simulated appearance on Wednesday afternoon.

Wren said the club hasn't determined when Proctor will begin making his rise through the Minor League system. But it's apparent the club remains hopeful that he will be able to join the Atlanta bullpen at some point this season.

"I think the advantage for him and for us is we're not pressed to need him right now," Wren said. "So we can give him the time to feel comfortable about the process."

Kawakami to 'change things up' for start

ATLANTA -- Looking to change his luck and provide some more comfort for his feet, Kenshin Kawakami recently ordered some new footwear from Nike. The new black shoes, which are adorned with red shoelaces and gold spikes, will be on display Wednesday night, when the Japanese right-hander attempts to record his first victory of the season.

"To me, the shoes had to do with one thing, but another thing was just to change things up," Kawakami said through his interpreter.

Kawakami was bothered by a blister that developed on his foot during a May 4 start against the Nationals. But much more bothersome is the reality that he is 0-6 with a 5.79 ERA through his first seven starts this season. His only no-decision occurred Friday, when he allowed four runs in a season-short 4 1/3 innings and then saw his Braves teammates rally to prevent him from suffering a seventh consecutive loss.

Some of Kawakami's misfortunes can be pinned on the fact that he has already opposed Tim Lincecum, Roy Halladay, Ubaldo Jimenez and Livan Hernandez. But the 34-year-old righty believes the resulting lack of run support serves only as a minor reason why he has been unable to regain the form he had while posting a 3.42 ERA in his final 21 starts last year.

"Obviously there has been some bad luck involved, but the bad luck has been created by my pitching," Kawakami said.

Kawakami believes his mechanics might have been altered by his decision to spend Spring Training focusing on the development of his two-seam fastball. In the process, he placed an emphasis on creating a high arm slot.

As a result, he believes he stopped utilizing his legs as much in his delivery. This could be a reason that he feels too many of his pitches have stayed up in the strike zone this year.

Cox plays matchup, opts to sit Hinske

ATLANTA -- Based on the way that Eric Hinske had hit since moving into the starting lineup last week, there was reason to wonder if Braves manager Bobby Cox would allow him to attempt to test his red-hot bat against Mets left-hander Johan Santana on Tuesday night.

But looking to create a better matchup, Cox instead opted to start Melky Cabrera in left field. Cabrera entered the game 2-for-10 in his career against Santana. Hinske has gone hitless in five career at-bats against the two-time Cy Young Award winner.

"Hinske can hit lefties," Cox said. "Cabrera hasn't played in a long time. He needs to be in there. Plus when you rest a guy, you can hit him whenever you want. He could be a good weapon [off the bench]."

Hinske has recorded one hit in just four at-bats against left-handed pitchers this year and owns a .221 career batting average against them.

While Cabrera entered Tuesday with just four hits in his previous 29 at-bats, Hinske had batted .571 (12-for-21) with five doubles and two homers over the course of the previous six games.

Schafer activated, optioned to Triple-A

ATLANTA -- Jordan Schafer was activated from the 15-day disabled list Monday and optioned to Minor League Triple-A Gwinnett.

Schafer spent most of April attempting to strengthen his surgically repaired left wrist. He underwent the surgery on Sept. 5 and may have pushed himself too hard during the offseason, leading to fatigue and some soreness during Spring Training.

In 13 combined games with Class A Rome, Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett this month, Schafer has batted .259 (14-for-54), with four doubles and four RBIs.

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