Notes: Soriano not a Braves concern
Closer expected to start throwing soon, return by Opening Day
WINTER HAVEN, Fla. -- The Braves aren't sure exactly when Rafael Soriano will be cleared to begin pitching. But at the same time, they don't seem overly concerned about the fact that their closer has recently been bothered by a sore right elbow.
"We're always at the mercy of keeping guys healthy," Braves general manager Frank Wren said when asked about Soriano's elbow. "But I don't think it's a concern right now."
Before Wednesday's 4-1 win over the Indians at Chain Of Lakes Park, Braves manager Bobby Cox said he wasn't worried about Soriano and that he expected him to begin throwing again in the next couple of days.
When Soriano didn't appear in the first few exhibition games of the season, the Braves said he was battling stomach problems. Once tests showed his stomach problems weren't being caused by ulcers, there was some speculation he simply wanted to make his debut later in March -- like many other closers have done in the past.
Soriano, who became Atlanta's closer late last August, looked strong during the early days of camp, and there isn't any reason to think he was injured before the Braves signed him to a two-year, $9 million contract in January.
Once Soriano's stomach began feeling better, he told the Braves he was feeling the discomfort at the top of his elbow.
"If had just been the elbow injury, he'd have probably missed three or four days and then been ready to go," Wren said. "He was throwing the ball good."
As a reliever, Soriano doesn't need much time to build his endurance for the start of the regular season. If he's able to make his exhibition season debut next week and then work once every three days, he could easily make five or six appearances before Opening Day.
"He will have way more than enough [time]," Wren said.
Diaz homer: When Matt Diaz took his place in left field during the first inning of Wednesday's game, he was close to the spot where he hit his first high school home run. Permitted to play for Santa Fe Catholic High School as an eighth grader, Diaz's first homer came in the 1993 Polk County Championship.
"I still have never hit a ball that far again," Diaz joked.
It's unknown how far Diaz's home run traveled, but it's safe to assume it didn't go nearly as far as the blast Mark Teixeira drilled to begin Wednesday's sixth inning. Teixeira's shot traveled far beyond the right-center-field signage and landed near a group of townhouses.
Chipper update: Cox said that Chipper Jones might be ready to return to action Friday. Jones, who tweaked his right hamstring during Sunday's batting practice, hit a one-hopper off the left-center-field fence while batting against John Smoltz in a simulated game on Wednesday morning at Disney.
During his three simulated innings, Smoltz faced a group that included Jones, Jeff Francoeur, Tim Hudson and good friend Tiger Woods, who is not playing in this week's PGA Tour event. Hudson collected two hits, and Woods directed an alleged single back up the middle.
Up next: One of the reasons the Braves traded Edgar Renteria in October was to create payroll space to sign Tom Glavine. When they get their first look at Renteria in his new Tigers uniform on Thursday afternoon in Lakeland, Fla., they'll also be sending Glavine to the mound for his second Grapefruit League start. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. ET, and the game can be heard via Gameday Audio on braves.com.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.