7/23/2013 7:08 P.M. ET
B.J. 'making progress,' but no timetable yet
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- B.J. Upton has not reached a point where he is ready to project when he might be activated from the disabled list. But the Braves center fielder is encouraged because his strained right adductor muscle is not bothering him nearly as much as it was a week ago.
"It definitely feels a lot better than last week," Upton said. "I'm definitely making progress, and I don't see it being too much longer."
When Upton was cleared for light jogging exercises Monday, it marked his first on-field activity since straining the adductor muscle on July 12. He hit off a tee on Tuesday and was hoping to be cleared to begin increasing his swinging activities over the next few days.
Upton will not be ready to be activated when he becomes eligible to come off the disabled list on Saturday. But if he continues to make progress, there is a chance he could begin a Minor League rehab stint next week.
Laird among Braves in favor of Braun's punishment
NEW YORK -- Count Braves veteran catcher Gerald Laird among the Major League players who were not feeling any compassion on Monday, when Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun accepted a suspension through the remainder of this season for violations of Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
"I don't really feel bad for him," Laird said. "I wouldn't know how to talk to my parents and my grandparents and my kids. I'd be embarrassed. He's embarrassed not only himself, but his whole family.
"I still think he's a great player. But he carried this on for so long and lied, and continued to lie and continued to throw people under the bus. Now you want everybody to feel sorry for you. No, sorry. I still don't think [the penalty] is as sharp as it should be. I think he's getting off easy."
With the Brewers 19 games out of first place in the National League Central, Braun agreed to accept this punishment and forfeit the approximate $3.5 million he is owed for the remainder of this season. But he will be eligible to return next year to collect at least $120 million over the final seven years of his current contract.
This does not necessarily sit well with players like Braves veteran outfielder Reed Johnson, who has earned approximately $14 million while never playing with the luxury of a multiyear contract since breaking into the big leagues in 2003.
"You look at it from a financial standpoint, you lose three or four million dollars in salary," he said. "But because you [used performance-enhancing supplements], you got a $150 million contract."
But Johnson said most of his frustration centers around the fact that Braun and other players linked to performance-enhancing drugs have chosen to cheat the challenge of enduring the daily grind of a 162-game season.
"You look at what we've put our bodies through every day just to get ourselves out on the field, if you're doing that, it makes it a whole lot easier to get your body out on that field," Johnson said. "You don't have to do the same kind of preparation. That's the hardest part of this game, all that preparation you have to do just to get your body ready to go out there and play. That becomes easier when you're not doing things the right way. I think that's what players are most upset about.
"Guys are always going to be trying to get a leg up on the competition. But at the end of the day, I guess the program we have in place is showing that it is working. So I guess that is a positive for the players and the league in general."
The baseball world is waiting to learn what will happen with Alex Rodriguez and the other players, who, like Braun, have been linked to Biogenesis, the now-defunct Miami "wellness clinic" that allegedly supplied these players with banned substances.
"I'm glad it's happening," Laird said. "We're going to clean the game up and honestly, I hope they catch all of them."
Teheran's slick move puts him in rare company
NEW YORK -- While recording a Major League-best eight pickoffs this season, Braves right-hander Julio Teheran has used the same move he possessed when he began his professional career. The rookie's success has been a product of his ability to mix the pace of his move toward first base.
"I think I'm a little quicker now," Teheran said. "Before, I was quick, but I didn't change [my pace]. Now I'm trying to change [my pace]. Sometimes I'm quick and sometimes I'm not as a quick."
Teheran's eight pickoffs were four more than any other Major Leaguer had recorded entering Tuesday. More impressive was that no other right-handed pitcher had recorded more than three. In fact, just two right-handers -- James Shields (13 in 2011) and Johnny Cueto (10 in 2012) have recorded more than eight pickoffs in a season dating back to 2000.
Teheran has already bettered the right-handed franchise record Armando Reynoso set with five pickoffs in 1991. The all-time Braves record is held by Charlie Leibrandt, who recorded 16 pickoffs in 1992.
Fredi set to step into Chatting Cage spotlight
NEW YORK -- Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez will field questions from fans when he participates in MLB.com's Edward Jones Chatting Cage on Wednesday at 4:15 p.m. ET.
Fans will have an opportunity to ask questions about subjects that could range from lineup arrangements, daily duties and the benefits of sharing a close friendship with former Braves manager Bobby Cox.
Participating fans using a webcam could be chosen to ask Gonzalez a question live. Fans can also Tweet their questions using the hashtag #chattingcage.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.