LOS ANGELES -- Craig Kimbrel was told after Triple-A Gwinnett's game on Friday night that he'd be flying out to Los Angeles to replace Takashi Saito on the Braves' roster on Saturday morning.Kimbrel, a rookie in his second stint with the big league team, arrived at about 8:45 on Saturday and by the afternoon was talking college baseball and drinking a Red Bull in the clubhouse, right at home. "Coming in a second time, I know everybody," said Kimbrel, who just turned 22. "And it makes it a lot easier and hopefully that carries over to the field as well." The hard-throwing right-hander made his Major League debut almost a month ago against the Phillies, called up in place of the injured Jair Jurrjens. Kimbrel was wild in his four appearances, walking six in 3 1/3 innings, but he also struck out five and allowed just two hits and one run. "I'm working on a lot of stuff. I just carried it from here and took it from down there and put it to use in a game, and it worked out really well," Kimbrel said. "I was really inconsistent, that's why we worked on a lot of this stuff. If you're balanced, you have an idea of where you're going to throw the ball. If you're just everywhere, it might go where you want it to, or it might not." He was dominant as Gwinnett's closer, nailing down eight saves in 16 appearances with a 1.23 ERA in 22 innings. He allowed just 10 hits, walked eight and struck out 35.
Chipper's injured finger not improving
LOS ANGELES -- "Something's not right" with Chipper Jones' ailing right ring finger, the Braves third baseman said on Saturday after two rounds of soft toss with little improvement convinced him to sit for a third straight game."It's a ways from being ready," Jones said of the injury described as inflammation. "It's less painful, but you know it's hard, because I take BP right-handed and my right hand comes off the bat. But during a game, it doesn't come off the bat. Any time that finger bends inwards from the knuckle all the way down into my hand ... something's not right." Receiving a cortisone shot has been a possibility for the last few days, but Jones said it'll still be another day or two before that decision is made. He's been receiving cortisone via a pad for the last three days and he's also been using hot and cold treatments. If he were to get an injection directly to the knuckle area, he said he'd likely need to see a hand specialist. "All I was doing was soft-tossing," Jones said. "I wasn't hitting live, or hitting 90-mile-per-hour pitching." Meanwhile, Brian McCann was back in the Braves' lineup on Saturday, batting cleanup. He was given the day off on Friday because of his tender quadriceps, which kept him out for four games at the end of May, manager Bobby Cox said. A day after throwing 25 pitches in batting practice, Jair Jurrjens ran at Dodger Stadium and felt fine. Jurrjens is scheduled for a bullpen session on Sunday, then another batting-practice session in Phoenix, where the Braves head to next to face the D-backs. He could pitch a simulated game during their following series against the Twins in Minneapolis. Jurrjens has been out since the end of April with a strained left hamstring.
Braves' bullpen missing key cog in Saito
LOS ANGELES -- Fellow reliever Eric O'Flaherty thinks setup man Takashi Saito, who went on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left hamstring on Friday, has been the MVP of the Braves' bullpen this season."He's come in so many jams and worked his way out of them and gotten the ball to Billy [Wagner], sometimes those outs are the biggest outs of the game," O'Flaherty said. "He's done it so many times. We're definitely going to have to step it up and pick up the slack for the couple weeks or however long it is until he gets back." O'Flaherty gave up a go-ahead single to the Dodgers in the Braves' 5-4 win-streak-snapping loss on Friday, just one night after he had a big strikeout of Andre Ethier to preserve a late lead and the win. O'Flaherty was trying to locate a fastball on the outside corner, but he missed. "I knew [James Loney] was going to swing at the first pitch," he said. "If I hit my spot, he probably rolls over it, grounds it to second base or something. But I hit too much plate with it." Even though Saito likely wouldn't have pitched Saturday had he not gotten hurt -- the Braves try to avoid using him on back-to-back days -- it was a minor sampling of what life without Saito is like. Saito was 1-2 with a 2.92 ERA with 34 strikeouts and eight walks in 24 2/3 innings. "That's a tough situation," Wagner said. "It could mean more responsibility for Jonny Venters, or [Craig] Kimbrel or [Jesse] Chavez or O'Flaherty. It's going to be everybody, it's not going to be one guy picking up the slack." What will Wagner miss most, though, without Saito? His walking buddy to the bullpen. "He was my guy," Wagner said. "We had a translator, we spoke well, things were great. We had a good relationship building, which was fantastic. But now he's gone his separate way and I'm walking down there by myself. It's tough; it's emotional." Disappointed about the injury as he is, Saito had some smiles during practice on Saturday while talking to his former coaches. This four-game series with the Dodgers marks the first time in his career, both in Japan and the U.S., that he has faced a former team. "It's a new experience for me," Saito said. "At first, I had complicated feelings facing my old teammates, but once I was on the mound, it was easier." Saito also noted L.A.'s strong Japanese community.
Evan Drellich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.