05/30/10 6:58 PM ET
Hinske happy for old pal Halladay
By Mark Bowman and Chris Hempson / MLB.com
Given that the Braves were in the midst of their own game on Saturday night, Eric Hinske certainly didn't react in the same manner when he learned that his former Blue Jays teammate, Roy Halladay, had completed the 20th perfect game in Major League history for the Phillies.
With Halladay now pitching for the division-rival Philliies, who entered Sunday just 1 1/2 games in front of Atlanta in the National League East, Hinske was still able to feel good about the fact that his friend had enjoyed such a rare accomplishment.
"I'm happy for him," Hinske said. "He's a great professional. He does his job better than anybody else. He's real serious about it."
Hinske wasn't very surprised that it took Halladay 298 career starts to throw his first no-hitter. The Braves' versatile utility player was playing third base for the Blue Jays on Sept. 6, 2003, when the dominant right-hander kept the Tigers hitless over 7 2/3 innings and ended up throwing 10 scoreless innings.
"He pitches to contact too much," Hinske said. "It's hard for him to throw a no-hitter, because he's trying to get them to put the ball in play."
The Braves will not have to face Halladay during this week's three-game series against the Phillies.
-- Mark Bowman
Kawakami solid, but still searching for win
ATLANTA -- Despite denying himself a chance to record his first win by surrendering a game-tying, two-run seventh-inning home run in Sunday afternoon's 5-2 win over the Pirates, Braves pitcher Kenshin Kawakami left Turner Field with reason to be satisfied after another strong effort.
"It's the better start," Kawakami said through an interpreter. "It's a better start than most starts. But if we ended up losing, that home run would have been stuck in my head."
Luckily for Kawakami and the Braves, pinch-hitter Chipper Jones hit a game-winning single to prevent such a headache. But if nothing else, Kawakami can take condolence in his performances of late. Sure, he hasn't won at Turner Field since May 22, 2009, and hasn't won a start of any kind since August of last season, but during his past three starts, the Japanese hurler has posted a 2.47 ERA and allowed just 16 hits in 18 2/3 innings.
The Braves offense hasn't afforded him much help -- averaging the sixth-lowest run support of all National League starting pitchers entering Sunday at 2.74 runs per game. Against the Pirates on Sunday, Kawakami got two runs before he exited during the seventh inning.
Further, as Jones acknowledged, Kawakami made seemingly one bad pitch during his outing, the two-seam fastball which Pirates first baseman Jeff Clement blasted to right field for a homer.
"It just goes to show you, you can't let up no matter who you're playing, no matter who you're facing," Jones said. "It's unfortunate. [Kawakami] deserved to win. We're trying like heck to get him that first [win]. I think he'll tell you he's happy. He kept us in the game and allowed us to win it late."
-- Chris Hempson
Braves could alter walk-off celebrations
ATLANTA -- While leading the Major Leagues in walk-off winners this season with six, you'd have to figure the Braves would be the prime candidates to experience a freak injury to their walk-off hero during postgame celebrations.
Instead, the practically unthinkable actually occurred Saturday in Los Angeles, as Angels star first baseman Kendry Morales suffered a fracture in his lower left leg while rejoicing in a walk-off grand slam to beat the Mariners. The 26-year-old was leading the team in batting average, home runs, total bases and RBIs. But now, he's out indefinitely.
"It's unfortunate," Braves center fielder Nate McLouth said of Morales' injury. "It's something you never picture happening. But hopefully he'll be good and get back sooner rather than later. I don't know, maybe it'll change the way we celebrate walk-offs."
The 28-year-old McLouth would know a thing or two about walk-off winners. He did complete an improbable comeback against the Phillies on April 20 with a solo home run into the right-field bleachers in the bottom of the 10th. Unlike the Angels, and most Major League teams which converge to homeplate, the Braves bench jokingly emptied into the clubhouse -- leaving McLouth all alone to run the basepaths in jubilation.
"We made it through mine, that's for sure. " McLouth said while chuckling.
Still, how much walk-off celebrations will change around the Majors, and even in Atlanta itself, remains to be seen. Angels manager Mike Scioscia already stated his team will alter its postgame style. But Braves infielder Brooks Conrad, who smacked his own walk-off grand slam on May 20 against the Reds, sees it differently.
"You've got to go for the [wild celebration at home plate]," he said. "At that point, your natural kid reactions just take over, and you're just so happy. You're flying in there. You can't really plan it unless you talk about it before. Something like that, where it's an unexpected walk-off like that, it's hard to be careful. You're so excited."
Conrad added that the walk-off has evolved over the years -- especially with the celebratory antics -- citing the joke on McLouth as one such example. He understands being careful, but, "It's one of the most fun things you can ever experience. It's good to be on the cautious side, but it's hard to control yourself, because you're so excited."
-- Chris Hempson
Braves likely not interested in Dontrelle
ATLANTA -- The Braves may eventually attempt to add a left-handed starter to their rotation, which is currently filled with right-handers. But it doesn't appear they are interested in taking a gamble on Dontrelle Willis, who was designated for assignment by the Tigers on Saturday night.
With the likelihood that Willis will not be traded or claimed by another organization within the next 10 days, he'll soon be available to every Major League club for the pro-rated portion of the minimum salary. While some clubs may be willing to take the chance that the veteran left-hander could prove to be a bargain, the Braves seem more interested in exploring their internal options.
There's a good possibility that Atlanta could promote right-hander Chris Resop within the next week or two to fill a rotation spot or serve as a reliever. In addition, if they determine they need a left-handed starter, there seems to be a growing feeling that Mike Minor might be close to being Major League-ready.
But while allowing Double-A Mobile seven earned runs in six innings on Thursday night, Minor showed he could benefit from some more Minor League seasoning. The 22-year-old left-hander entered that outing having allowed just two earned runs in the previous 19 innings he had completed for Double-A Mississippi.
-- Mark Bowman
McCann gets extra rest
ATLANTA -- Brian McCann could have returned to the Braves' lineup as early as Saturday. But showing precaution, manager Bobby Cox decided he would rest his All-Star catcher until the Phillies come to Turner Field to begin a three-game series on Monday.
McCann has been sidelined since straining his right quadriceps muscle during the fourth inning of Wednesday night's win over the Marlins. He exited after delivering a seventh-inning single that evening and has watched David Ross handle the catching duties for the Braves during each of the past four days.
"He's just going to take one more day," Cox said before Sunday's series finale against the Pirates. "He could have played [Saturday] if he really wanted to push it. I had [a pulled quad] and I talked to him about it. I still have scar tissue from mine. This is the smart thing to do. "
McCann was healthy enough to draw a walk in a pinch-hit at-bat in the decisive eighth inning of Sunday's 5-2 win over the Pirates. The 26-year-old catcher had no problem scoring from second base on a triple that Jason Heyward drilled into the left-center-field gap.
Wanting to get Chipper Jones a chance to a rest on Sunday, Cox utilized Omar Infante as his starting third baseman. Jones also came off the bench to deliver the go-ahead single in Sunday's eighth inning.
"When you rest people, you've got a lot of weapons on your bench," Cox said.
-- Mark Bowman
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.