09/17/10 11:44 PM ET
Cox ejected in second inning of Braves' tilt
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
Home-plate umpire Bill Hohn issued the ejection while Cox objected to a second-inning walk drawn by Mets first baseman Ike Davis on Friday night at Citi Field.
Having already been ejected, Cox exited the dugout and argued with Hohn, who listened for a short span and then attempted to subdue the confrontation by walking toward the Mets' dugout.
Cox, who has earned 158 career ejections, then continued to argue with first-base umpire Gary Darling before heading back to the clubhouse.
Shoulder discomfort has Saito day to day
NEW YORK -- While being used carefully since the All-Star break, Takashi Saito had proven healthy and very effective. But with a little more than two weeks remaining in this season, the Braves right-handed reliever finds himself once again bothered by a sore right shoulder.
Saito was forced to exit after retiring the first two batters he faced in the eighth inning of Friday night's 6-4 win over the Mets at Citi Field. The 40-year-old reliever said that he could feel the discomfort inside his shoulder while delivering his final two pitches.
"He had to leave the game, so that's never good," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "He's day to day. We'll get him evaluated whatever we have to do. Hopefully he can pitch at some point soon."
Saito admitted that he is concerned because he still doesn't know the extent of his injury. He was somewhat encouraged when he didn't feel the same discomfort once he reached the clubhouse and underwent some tests performed by the Braves' trainers.
"When they did the exam, I didn't feel any pain," Saito said. "I couldn't feel the same pain I felt on the mound. So it feels strange."
Saito said the discomfort might be linked to the shoulder problems that he's experienced earlier this year, namely around the All-Star break.
The Braves have carefully given him necessary rest between appearances during the season's second half. The method appeared to be working as the Japanese right-hander entered Friday having not allowed an earned run in his previous 15 innings, dating back to July 30.
"He's a big key for our season and has been all year," Cox said.
While Saito is sidelined, the Braves may opt to increase Craig Kimbrel's role. The rookie right-hander has recorded 11 strikeouts and allowed just one hit in his past five innings.
Bruised McCann doesn't slip out of lineup
NEW YORK -- When Brian McCann came around the corner with a smile on his face Friday afternoon, he looked like a hockey player proudly showing off his latest battle casualties. At the same time, he was still somewhat embarrassed to admit why he was wearing noticeable scratches and bruises above and to the side of his right eye.
There was reason to wonder if he had been in a fight or simply forgot to wear his catcher's mask during a bullpen session. But the veteran catcher said that he simply fell while running around the swimming pool at his Atlanta-area residence around 10:30 a.m. Thursday.
"I was being an idiot, and slipped and fell," McCann said. "It doesn't feel good, but it's all right."
McCann didn't require any stitches, and was in the Braves' starting lineup for Friday night's series opener against the Mets at Citi Field.
"It does improve his look a little bit," Braves backup catcher David Ross said. "I mean, let's be honest. You couldn't do any more damage to that face than he already had."
Ross playfully suggested that he and some of his teammates might want to protect their All-Star catcher by adorning his pool with signs that remind him of a lesson he should have learned during his childhood.
"We're trying to win a division here -- let's walk, not run," Ross said. "They need to put up signs around his pool at home. I'm going to invest in some signs, because Lord knows we don't want me to be in there."
Hudson adjusting delivery in time for start
NEW YORK -- Tim Hudson essentially breezed through his first 25 starts this season, looking like a National League Cy Young Award candidate. The inconsistencies he has experienced in his past five starts have diminished the strength of his bid and also led him to closer analyze the mechanics of his delivery.
While throwing a bullpen session earlier this week, Hudson recognized that he has been pushing toward the plate with more force than he had earlier this year. By speeding up his delivery, he has prevented himself from realizing consistent command with his patented sinker.
"I've just got to focus on not rushing to the plate quite as much," Hudson said. "I've got to turn my intensity level down a little bit."
Hudson will test his adjustments when he starts against the Mets on Saturday afternoon. The 35-year-old right-hander has gone 1-3 with a 5.17 ERA in his past five starts. During his first 25 starts, he was 14-5 with a 2.15 ERA.
Cox gets captain's treatment from Delta
NEW YORK -- When Braves director of team travel Bill Acree instructed the bus driver to enter a different gate at Atlanta's Hartsfield Airport on Thursday afternoon, manager Bobby Cox felt they might just be saving some time.
A few moments later, Cox found himself staring at Delta Air Lines plane adorned with a large red No. 6, the number that the Braves will one day retire to recognize his countless contributions to the organization.
Delta surprised Cox by celebrating the last regular-season charter flight of his managerial career with an impressive send-off that included a water-cannon salute, which is usually reserved for the last flight piloted by a retiring captain.
"It was great," Cox said. "We got the captain's treatment."
Delta, which has charted the Braves' flights since they moved to Atlanta in 1966, gave Cox lifetime Platinum status on their airline and presented him with two round-trip tickets good for any of their worldwide destinations.
As Delta president Ed Bastian spoke, Cox said he peered into a crowd filled with Delta employees and thought, "It would be great if [my wife] Pam knew about this." Moments later, Cox boarded the aircraft and found his wife already in her seat, prepared to enjoy a flight enriched by food prepared by Kevin Rathbun, a world-renowned chef based out of Atlanta.
"The duck sliders were excellent," Cox said. "I don't even like duck, and they were great. Everything was just wonderful."
While Cox enjoyed Rathbun's selection, he also took advantage of the opportunity to spend a portion of Thursday night at Sparks, his favorite Manhattan steakhouse.
Braves start Diaz for fourth straight game
NEW YORK -- Braves outfielder Matt Diaz arrived at Citi Field on Friday night prepared to face Mets left-hander Jon Niese with the confidence he had gained while getting a chance to start against Nationals right-handers Yunesky Maya and Livan Hernandez earlier this week.
Diaz has drawn a majority of his starts against left-handed pitchers. But when given the chance to challenge himself against right-handers, he believes he keeps the mechanics of his swing sound.
"Even if I face a right-hander and it doesn't go statistically well, I really feel that it helps me stay on the ball better," Diaz said. "When I'm just seeing a lot of left-handers coming in at me, I get pull-happy and that's not where I need to be."
Sidelined for nearly six weeks by an infected right thumb that was painfully jammed about three weeks after he returned from the disabled list, Diaz hasn't been able to provide the offensive consistency that enabled him to hit .316 for the Braves over the four previous seasons.
Friday night marked just the second time this season that Diaz was in the lineup for four consecutive games. The veteran outfielder has hit .314 over his past 12 games, consequently increasing his season batting average from .237 to .250.
"The swing feels good," Diaz said. "Hopefully it stays that way for another five weeks."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.