04/28/12 11:20 PM ET
Medlen's prowess at the plate impresses Braves
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
Guided by this quiet confidence, Medlen has found success in the Major Leagues as a starting pitcher, a relief pitcher and now an offensive threat. On the way to notching a three-inning save in Friday night's win over the Pirates, he began the bottom of the eighth with a line drive single to right field.
While addressing the media on Saturday afternoon, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez explained Medlen's ritual before what was his first at-bat since Aug. 4, 2010.
"He's got the pine tar going and he's got the [rosin bag] and he's preparing his bat," Gonzalez said. "I said, 'Would you go out there and get ready to hit?' I said, 'You better be ready to hit after doing all of that [stuff] you're doing.'"
After raising his batting average to .146 (6-for-41) with the leadoff single, Medlen looked back toward Gonzalez in the dugout and touched the brim of his batting helmet.
With All-Star catcher Brian McCann unavailable because of a right intercostal strain and Matt Diaz forced into the emergency catcher's role, Gonzalez was dealing with a thin bench on Saturday night. He said Medlen could be used as a pinch-hitter. The versatile pitcher was unavailable to pitch after completing three innings on Friday.
Chipper's soreness could limit his playing time
ATLANTA -- Chipper Jones gingerly made his way back to his locker nearly an hour after serving as a pinch-hitter in Saturday night's 4-2 loss to the Pirates. The Braves' third baseman has been battling what he describes as "arthritic pain" in the lower inside part of his surgically repaired left knee.
"I don't know what the prognosis is, and I don't know why it is hurting the way it is," Jones said. "But if it continues to affect me the way that it is, then I can't go out there and play nine innings."
While there may be a point where Jones must go on the disabled list, the Braves are prepared for the likelihood that he will not be able to play more than three consecutive games. This has been the case since he returned to the lineup on April 10, two weeks after undergoing surgery to repair torn meniscus in his left knee.
Jones grounded out in his five-pitch, pinch-hit appearance in the sixth inning of Saturday's game. While he was not forced to sprint down the line, he said the at-bat eliminated the relief that treatment brought him earlier in the day.
"Some days I wake up and it feels all right," Jones said. "But ever since [Friday] night in the seventh or eighth inning, it's been really, really bad. If I wake up and come in and have a minimal amount of fluid, and they can give me something for that joint pain, I'll play. But I would have had a hard time going out there tonight."
Jones was not ready to rule out the possibility of being in the lineup on Sunday afternoon, when veteran Tim Hudson makes his season debut. To make room on the 25-man roster for Hudson, the Braves optioned right-hander Cory Gearrin to Triple-A Gwinnett.
Braves could have McCann back Monday
ATLANTA -- Brian McCann was pleased to feel minimal discomfort in his right side on Saturday morning. The catcher was further encouraged when he arrived at Turner Field a few hours later and learned he could return to the Braves' lineup as early as Monday.
There was some concern surrounding McCann on Friday night, when he was forced to exit the Braves' 6-1 win over the Pirates with a strained right intercostal muscle. But Atlanta said this ailment was different that the strained left oblique muscle McCann suffered during a 19-inning game against Pittsburgh in July.
"I woke up and knew it was only going to be a couple day thing," McCann said. "I don't think I can re-injure it doing anything. It's just a matter of dealing with a little twinge."
McCann first felt pain in the fourth inning, when he blocked a pitch and threw to second base. He was able to make a strong throw to second base after receiving a pitchout in the fifth inning. But with the discomfort present as he grounded out in the bottom half of the inning, he exited the game as a preventative measure to avoid aggravating the ailment.
"As soon as I made that throw, I knew I was going to be OK as far as the long haul," McCann said. "But I just wanted to make sure it wasn't going to be a DL stint and make sure it was not going to be an oblique, where it was going to sit me out three weeks to a month.
"I don't like sitting out, and I don't like not being in there. But I learned my lesson last year. If you go on the DL for a 3 1/2 weeks to a month, it's going to take you two months to get back. I'm just being cautious.Hopefully in a couple days I'll be ready to go."
With McCann sidelined, David Ross will handle the catching duties, and Matt Diaz will serve as his emergency backup. Diaz has not caught in a game since donning the gear for the Royals in their 2005 Instructional League. But he did catch at least two bullpen sessions a month while with the Pirates last year.
Replay of acrobatic catch surprised Uggla
ATLANTA -- Braves second baseman Dan Uggla and shortstop Tyler Pastornicky were happy that they were able to laugh about the potentially disastrous play Friday that now stands as the most acrobatic catch in Uggla's career.
"That could have been very ugly," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "That was a heck of a play."
Those were the somewhat contrasting thoughts many had when Uggla and Pastornicky both raced into shallow center field to catch Nate McLouth's pop fly with two outs in the seventh inning. As the rookie shortstop was attempting to make an over-the-shoulder grab, the veteran second baseman dove in front of him and gloved the ball with his left arm extended toward left-center field.
After smacking the ground, a seemingly surprised Uggla rose to his knees to show the umpires he had secured the catch.
"I didn't know where anybody was," Uggla said. "I really didn't know where I was. It hurt a lot worse than I thought it was going to hurt. But it was all worth it."
Uggla did not make eye contact with Pastornicky before making the catch and feeling the young shortstop tumble over him.
"I never glanced over at him. I glanced at [center fielder Michael Bourn] when I was running out. Then I felt him right when I caught the ball. I was like, 'What are you doing? Get off me.' But then I looked at the replay and I took the ball from him."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.