05/06/12 2:15 AM ET
Hinske a valuable asset on Braves' bench
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
Hinske notched his second four-hit performance within a span of five days during Friday night's win over the Rockies. The 34-year-old reserve had not previously notched this career-high total since 2004. He entered Saturday with 10 hits in his previous 15 at-bats.
His most valuable hit during this stretch was Friday night's decisive 11th-inning home run.
"My main focus is that when I do start, I do something to help the team win that day," Hinske said. "I'm just trying to have great at-bats, play defense and play the game the right way."
Hinske has taken advantage of the increased playing time he received as Jason Heyward dealt with some soreness around his right oblique muscle during the early days of this month. After starting just two of the first 22 games the Braves played this year, he made his third start within a five-day span on Friday night. The 15 at-bats he compiled during this span were four fewer than he had totaled in those first 22 games.
"When you get a couple starts here and there, it helps you when you're pinch-hitting," Hinske said. "That's what I like most."
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said he thought about starting Hinske on Saturday night, despite the fact the Rockies were starting left-handed pitcher Jamie Moyer. But he opted instead to stick with Matt Diaz, who has found success against left-handed pitchers throughout his career.
Durbin settling into a groove in bullpen
DENVER -- Chad Durbin was not overly concerned when he surrendered a home run in each of his first three appearances with the Braves this season. But the veteran reliever admits he should benefit from the confidence he has gained while allowing a run in just one of the nine appearances that have followed.
"Relievers are like good three-point shooters in basketball," Durbin said. "When they get hot, you just keep riding guys out there. I've seen that for years. Guys complain about getting used, but they also complain about not getting used. If you're going good, they're going to ride you until you give it up."
The Braves signed Durbin after he was released by the Nationals at the end of Spring Training. Three appearances into this season, it looked like it might be a short-term relationship. But in the nine outings that have followed, he has allowed two runs -- both during Monday's appearance against the Pirates -- and limited opponents to a .200 batting average.
While Durbin is not one of the top options in the Braves' bullpen, he has provided value while earning the win in both of the 11-inning comeback victories Atlanta recorded this past week. The 34-year-old right-hander tossed a scoreless inning in both games.
"The most important thing for [Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell and manager Fredi Gonzalez] and the guys on the team to see from relievers is consistency -- and not consistently bad, but consistently good," Durbin said. "You just want to be able to count on the guy."
Recuperating Prado plays on Saturday
DENVER -- Martin Prado was too sick to leave the team hotel on Friday. But he improved enough on Saturday to come to Coors Field to work out and prepare himself to return to the Braves' lineup for Sunday's series finale against the Rockies.
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez wanted Prado to break a sweat and distance himself from the lethargic feeling he felt while battling flu-like symptoms on Thursday night and all day Friday.
"Coming off that 24-hour flu, your body doesn't feel right," Gonzalez said.
Having reacted well to the conditioning work he completed before the game, Prado entered Saturday night's game in the seventh inning as a pinch-hitter. He was hit on the right shoulder by the first pitch he saw from Esmil Rogers.
Prado glared at Rogers before going to first base. He advanced to second base on a bases-loaded walk and scored on Chipper Jones' two-run single.
Rookie shortstop Tyler Pastornicky was relieved to learn a 20-year-old woman was not seriously injured when she was struck by a foul ball he hit in the seventh inning of Saturday's game at Coors Field. He signed a few baseballs for the woman.
Jonny Venters has not pitched since feeling some discomfort near his left shoulder during Wednesday night's game against the Phillies. But the left-handed reliever played catch on Saturday afternoon and believes he will be fine during a scheduled bullpen on Sunday morning.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.