The Braves Walking Wounded

Lately, good news on the injury front always seems to come with bad news. We'll deal with the good news first, I guess. Rafael Soriano should be activated from the disabled list for today's game, and not a moment too soon with the way Cox seems to be losing confidence in some members of his bullpen (see last night's game). The Braves have been very cautious with Soriano, so he should be more than ready to come off the DL and contribute immediately.

In other can-be-a-closer news, Mike Gonzalez recently passed the pitching on back to back days test in extended spring training in Orlando and is now headed to Mississippi (which is sort of like our Warm Springs these days) to make rehab appearances on Wednesday and Friday nights. This is bad news for Royce Ring, but good news for the overall state of the Atlanta pen.

Add to Soriano and Gonzalez the possible return -- whenever he feels like it -- of John Smoltz, who will apparently return in a bullpen role. The late innings are about to be pretty nasty (in a good way) for the Braves. Smoltz is starting Thursday night's game for the Rome Braves, though he is not expected to throw more than one or two innings.

Now to the bad news. Matt Diaz went on the disabled list following last night's game after straining a ligament in his knee (wall = 1; Diaz = 0). The Braves will not replace him on the roster with an outfielder just yet, but apparently plan to activate Soriano in his place. The injury to Diaz comes at a rather bad time since the team was already thinking of putting Mark Kotsay on the disabled list to give him time to rest his ailing back. We knew at some point this season Kotsay would likely head to the DL for some period of time, but I don't think anyone thought we'd actually be disappointed to see him get disabled. (Interesting how our opinions have changed from spring training to now.)

If Kotsay does need to be disabled, then we would likely see the Braves recall either Josh Anderson or Brent Lillibridge. Anderson has been pretty solid all season and while Lillibridge struggled hitting below .200 for much of the first month, his bat has begun to come alive lately. It's unlikely that the team will recall Brandon Jones as he continues to struggle at the plate.

Though it is less likely, you may also see the Braves try and swing some sort of trade for another team's unwanted outfielder in exchange for some of the guys we have recently designated for assignment. While he's not doing too well this year, the Braves may look to swap one of their DFA'ed players (likely Pena) for the recently DFA'ed Scott Hatteberg from the Reds. Then once Kotsay returns, Hatteberg could fit in as another bench bat to go with Greg Norton.

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