ATLANTA -- Braves outfielder Matt Diaz received some encouraging news Thursday afternoon, when Dr. Gary Lourie informed him that he had regained enough strength in his previously infected thumb to begin swinging a bat within the next couple of days.

But while Diaz is moving closer to returning to action for the first time since May 14, utility man Omar Infante returned to the clubhouse Thursday afternoon knowing that he might be just a day or two away from going on the disabled list.

Still bothered by the swelling that has been present since he fouled a pitch off his left foot during Friday night's game in Minneapolis, Infante was still unable to run hard Thursday afternoon. If he doesn't realize any improvement by Friday or Saturday, Atlanta could face a tough decision.

While the Braves don't want to continue playing a man short, Diory Hernandez is the only available infielder on their 40-man roster, and he recently joined the Triple-A club after missing the season's first 10 weeks recovering from shoulder surgery.

Saito could be activated this weekend

ATLANTA -- After Takashi Saito completed some defensive drills without experiencing any left hamstring discomfort Thursday afternoon, Braves manager Bobby Cox said that his veteran right-handed reliever would likely be activated from the disabled list Saturday or Sunday.

Saito ran off the mound to cover first base multiple times during Thursday afternoon's rehab test and came away feeling just as strong as he had when he completed a bullpen session Wednesday. The 40-year-old reliever has been sidelined since straining his left hamstring on June 3.

"It felt good," Saito said through his interpreter. "It felt really stable. It didn't feel like there was anything wrong with it."

Saito will complete another bullpen session Friday. The Braves may opt to give him one additional day to rest before activating him Sunday.

Hinske delivers on promise to QB Ryan

ATLANTA -- An avid football fan, Eric Hinske enjoyed the opportunity to meet Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan before Wednesday afternoon's game at Turner Field.

While saying goodbye to Ryan, the Braves' utility man playfully said he was going to hit a home run, and then a couple hours later, made these words prophetic.

"I was joking with him," Hinske said. "I said, 'You better keep watching because I'm going to go deep tonight,' and then I ended up hitting a home run."

Hinske's sixth-inning homer off former Rays teammate Dan Wheeler capped a two-hit performance that began with him beating a defensive shift with a third-inning bunt single, which he directed to an unoccupied area in front of where Rays third baseman Evan Longoria would have normally been positioned.

"I've been shifted against four times in my life and I have four bunt hits," Hinske said before quickly reciting that he had also done this twice against the White Sox, once against the Mets (earlier this year). "I'm never going to pass up the opportunity to get an easy hit."