8/23/2013 1:21 A.M. ET
Uggla takes BP; Johnson starts at second
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
ST. LOUIS -- When Dan Uggla complained about the batter's eye while taking early batting practice at Busch Stadium on Thursday afternoon, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez playfully told his second baseman that he was happy he could see.
Uggla underwent LASIK surgery on Aug. 16 to repair the blurred vision he has experienced while hitting .186 with 21 homers and a .696 OPS this year. He will likely play at least one Minor League rehab game early next week and then rejoin Atlanta's lineup on Wednesday, the day he is eligible to be activated from the disabled list.
Paul Janish has made most of the starts at second base over the past week. But in attempt to gain a better offensive threat, the Braves claimed Elliot Johnson off waivers from the Royals on Wednesday. Johnson started at second base in Thursday night's series opener against the Cardinals and singled in his first at-bat to snap an 0-for-31 skid.
"[Johnson] is a nice piece to have in your inventory off the bench," Gonzalez said. "He's a good National League player."
The switch-hitting Johnson batted .179 with a .218 on-base percentage in 79 games with the Royals this season. But he was perfect in each of his first 14 stolen base attempts.
Beachy to get checkup from Dr. Andrews
ST. LOUIS -- Brandon Beachy knew something was not right as his fastball velocity suddenly dipped during the sixth inning of Tuesday night's game against the Mets. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez gained the same sense when Beachy informed him the 82-mph pitch Juan Lagares popped up to end the inning was a fastball.
For now, the Braves are crossing their fingers with the hope that this was just one of those unexpected bumps in the road pitchers encounter after returning from Tommy John surgery. But the club will gain a clearer indication when Beachy spends time on Monday visiting with Dr. James Andrews, who performed the surgical procedure 14 months ago.
Beachy said he is confident he will pitch again this year. But for his own peace of mind, he wants to find out why his arm began to tighten during Tuesday's fifth inning. He likened the discomfort to what he felt when he was shut down with right elbow inflammation in June, just a few days before making what was supposed to be his first big league start since the surgery.
"I'd like to know what is causing it," Beachy said. "That is the reason we're going to go see Andrews on Monday and hopefully figure this out."
Beachy returned to Atlanta on Thursday to be examined by Dr. Xavier Duralde. Gonzalez said an MRI exam was not performed because the images often prove inconclusive on individuals who have already had their ulnar cruciate ligament replaced via this elbow surgery.
"When you do an MRI with a guy who has already had Tommy John, you don't even know what you're looking at," Gonzalez said. "It's like looking at the map of the New York City subway."
In the five starts he has made since coming off the disabled list on July 29, Beachy has compiled a 4.50 ERA and consistently thrown fastballs that have registered 91-92 mph.
Beachy threw a 91-mph fastball to Marlon Byrd during Tuesday's sixth inning. But just one of the five fastballs he threw to the next three batters registered higher than 85 mph, and it was clocked at 87.
"It just started tightening up on me and just kept getting worse," Beachy said. "I was trying to throw through it. It started to feel a lot like it did the first time before I got shut down [in June]. I started losing control and I looked up and saw a bunch of 85s. The last one there, I got the guy to pop up. I looked up and it said 82-mph changeup. I was like, 'I could have swore that was a four-seamer I threw.'"
The Braves had planned to give Mike Minor some rest by skipping him during this current turn through their rotation and starting him on Tuesday night against the Indians. But Minor will now start in Beachy's place on Sunday, with three extra days' rest.
"I didn't really need it," Minor said. "It was just kind of precautionary, I guess. Everybody could use some extra rest, especially this time of year."
Kimbrel first to open with three 40-save seasons
ST. LOUIS -- Like in his first two full Major League seasons, Craig Kimbrel has once again reached the 40-saves mark. But his latest save has put him in uncharted waters.
Kimbrel notched his 40th save during Wednesday's win over the Mets. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Kimbrel is the only pitcher in Major League history to record at least 40 saves in three consecutive seasons, starting with his rookie season.
"I'm not really worried about my numbers," Kimbrel said. "I'm just worried about winning. I guess that is one of the reasons I've had success. I'm not wrapped up in what I've done or anything like that. I'm wrapped up in trying to help the team win and get to our final goal, which is to win the World Series."
Kimbrel also now joins John Smoltz as the only pitchers in Braves history to have three 40-save seasons. Kimbrel entered Thursday having converted 30 consecutive save appearances dating back to May 9. The 25-year-old closer has allowed one earned run and limited opponents to a .153 batting average in 38 appearances during this span.
• The Braves will begin selling tickets for the National League Division Series on Aug. 30 at 10 a.m. ET. Fans who pre-register at braves.com/postseason by Sunday can take advantage of a pre-sale opportunity that will begin Tuesday at 10 a.m. and run through Aug. 29 at 11:59 p.m. ET. Fans who want to secure tickets to all potential postseason games that would be played at Turner Field can call 404-577-9100 to place a deposit on season tickets for the 2014 season.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.