Cox honored before Tuesday's game
White Sox pay tribute to long-time Braves manager
CHICAGO -- When Bobby Cox didn't make the big league club out of Spring Training in 1970, legendary Yankees equipment manager Pete Sheehy took the No. 14 jersey Cox had been slated to wear and gave it to Moose Skowron, who had worn the same number for the Bronx Bombers from 1955-62.
Skowron, who now does community relations work with the White Sox, arrived at U.S. Cellular Field on Tuesday afternoon with the jersey in hand. The 80-year-old former first baseman spent some time with Cox and then asked the Braves' manager to sign the jersey.
Cox wore the No. 14 while playing for the Yankees in 1968 and '69.
As part of his ongoing farewell tour, the White Sox honored Cox before Tuesday night's game by giving him a large humidor presented by their manager Ozzie Guillen, who still has fond memories of the time he spent playing for the Braves' skipper in 1998 and '99.
"When you talk to Bobby, even through the years, you still call him Mr. Cox," Guillen said Tuesday afternoon.
Saito hopes to be off the DL for good
CHICAGO -- The Braves continued to get solid bullpen work while spending the past two weeks without Takashi Saito in their bullpen. Now that the veteran reliever has been activated from the 15-day disabled list, they can only hope that the lingering tightness in his left hamstring doesn't prove to be a problem.
"My whole body feels great," Saito said through his interpreter. "It's just my hamstring that is a little tight. I just hope that I can last until the All-Star break."
Saito, who will resume his duties as closer Billy Wagner's primary setup man, completed a scoreless inning for Triple-A Gwinnett on Sunday. This outing marked the first time he had pitched in a game since straining his hamstring on June 3 at Dodger Stadium.
"I don't think he's 100 percent, but he's in the 90s," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "He says he can do everything."
To make room for Saito, the Braves optioned highly-regarded prospect Craig Kimbrel back to Triple-A Gwinnett. Instead of demoting Jesse Chavez, they determined it would be better to put Kimbrel back in a position where he could pitch on a regular basis in late-inning situations.
"He's just not going to get a lot of work in the seventh, eighth or ninth (innings)," Cox said.
Wagner on the verge of save No. 400
CHICAGO -- Just last week, there was reason to wonder if Billy Wagner would reach 400 saves before the All-Star break. But after pitching each of the final four games of the just-completed homestand, the veteran closer is now on the brink of becoming just the fifth pitcher to reach this milestone.
With Takashi Saito on the disabled list, Braves manager Bobby Cox called upon Wagner to pitch four consecutive days and the 38-year-old left-hander responded in impressive fashion. During this four-day stretch, he allowed two hits, issued one walk and recorded five strikeouts, completed four scoreless innings, recorded a win and notched three saves to increase his career total.
Wagner's 399th career save was converted on Sunday, while pitching on a fourth consecutive day for the first time since April 19, 2008. Cox said he felt comfortable giving his veteran closer this workload because two of those four appearances consisted of fewer than nine pitches.
"It's like he's found a new gear," Braves right-handed reliever Peter Moylan said. "He's throwing the ball as well as I've ever seen."
While converting 14 of his 16 save opportunities, Wagner has posted a 1.23 ERA and limited opponents to a .168 batting average. No other National League pitcher with at least 14 saves has limited opponents to a batting average less than .227. Among the NL closers with at least 14 saves, Jonathan Broxton's 0.92 ERA is the only one that bests Wagner's mark.
With this in mind, Wagner's former manager, Phillies skipper Charlie Manuel, could ask the veteran closer to be part of this year's National League All-Star team. If asked, Wagner said he would likely accept the invitation.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.