Reliever Soriano on his way back
Braves hurler could be activated from the DL on Monday
ATLANTA -- Rafael Soriano appears ready to end his latest lengthy stay on the disabled list. Now the Braves are just hopeful that he'll be able to stay off it for the remainder of the season.
Soriano completed a short bullpen session at Turner Field on Saturday afternoon, and the plan is for him to be activated from the 15-day disabled list on Monday. The right-handed reliever, who was projected to serve as the Braves' closer, has made just nine appearances this year, with the most recent coming on June 5.
"He threw [Saturday] and felt very good," Braves general manager Frank Wren said. "[Braves pitching coach] Roger [McDowell] said that he threw good."
When the Braves signed Soriano to a two-year, $9 million contract in January, they were confident that he'd overcome his previous arm problems. While making a career-high 71 appearances last season, the 28-year-old reliever didn't battle any health-related issues.
But Soriano complained of some elbow discomfort during the early weeks of Spring Training and made just four regular-season appearances before being placed on the disabled list. That transaction was made retroactive to April 7, and he wasn't activated until May 28.
Upon his return, Soriano made five appearances and converted two of his three save opportunities. But by June 6, he was forced to begin his current stint on the disabled list.
Based on what he's said and the fact that he showed good velocity during his Minor League rehab stint in the Dominican Summer League last week, the Braves are at least cautiously optimistic that Soriano's elbow has finally returned to good health.
"He says it is [better]," Wren said. "He says it feels fine."
When Soriano comes off the disabled list on Monday, there's a chance Yunel Escobar will be going on it. The 25-year-old shortstop hasn't played since aggravating his left shoulder strain on July 9.
Escobar will be evaluated by team physician Dr. Xavier Duralde on Sunday, and at that time, the Braves will determine whether they need to place him on the disabled list. If they do, he'd be eligible for activation as early as Friday's series opener against the Phillies in Philadelphia.
With the help of bench coach Chino Cadahia serving as an interpreter, Wren spoke with Escobar before Saturday night's game and made sure he understood the organization was willing to wait as long as necessary for his shoulder to heal.
"He wants to play, and that's great," Wren said. "But at the same time, we don't want him to jeopardize the rest of the season by playing a day or two too early."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.