Wagner sets lefty reliever strikeout record
Veteran closer fans one in ninth to pass Orosco for 1,170th K
ATLANTA -- Billy Wagner set the Major League record for strikeouts by a left-handed reliever Friday night. That didn't mean that the Braves' closer was in a celebratory mood, though.
Needing work, Wagner pitched the ninth inning in the Braves' 7-1 loss to the Marlins at Turner Field and fanned rookie Mike Stanton for his 1,170th strikeout to pass Jesse Orosco.
But Wagner didn't keep the ball and declined to talk to talk to the media after the game.
"We lost," he said.
The 39-year-old plans to retire after the season. He has made 838 career relief appearances, including 56 for the Braves this year.
Wagner, who came back from Tommy John surgery last season, has been solid in his first season with Atlanta. He is 7-2 with a 1.65 ERA and has 30 saves in 37 opportunities, with 78 strikeouts to 17 walks in 54 2/3 innings.
Wagner walked two in the ninth against the Marlins, but got a double play to end the inning.
Red-hot Freeman could earn September call
ATLANTA -- The Braves haven't announced who will be promoted from the Minors when Major League rosters can expand on Wednesday. But Bobby Cox is like most Atlanta fans when it comes to the possibility of seeing Freddie Freeman in September.
"I hope so," said the Braves manager when asked about the first baseman being promoted from Triple-A Gwinnett for the stretch run.
Braves general manager Frank Wren remained coy Friday, though.
"We haven't decided yet," Wren said before breaking into a smile.
Freeman is making it hard for the Braves not to give him a taste of the Major Leagues.
"I can't think about it," the top prospect said during the week. "I have to wait until it happens."
With his 5-for-5 game Thursday against Durham, Freeman is making a late run at the International League batting title. He went into the weekend hitting .435 in August, and he was 16-for-27 with two homers and 11 RBIs in his past seven games.
Freeman, who doesn't turn 21 until Sept. 12, raised his average to .324 with his perfect night. He has 35 doubles, two triples, 18 homers and 87 RBIs in 120 games.
Gwinnett designated hitter Barbaro Canizares leads the International League and went into Friday hitting .337. Like Freeman, the 30-year-old Cuban has been hot. Canizares' average for August was at .397.
Freeman's five-hit game tied a G-Braves record set by Gregor Blanco, who went 5-for-6. Before the Triple-A team moved to Gwinnett last season, two Richmond players had six-hit games.
"He can smell the Major Leagues, he's so close," G-Braves manager Dave Brundage said of Freeman. "But he's just got to be patient a little while longer."
Braves recall Kimbrel; Minor down for now
ATLANTA -- To bolster their bullpen for the weekend series against the Marlins, the Braves recalled Craig Kimbrel from Triple-A Gwinnett and sent starter Mike Minor back to the Minors temporarily.
Because the rookie Gulf Coast League season ends on Saturday, the Braves could send Minor there on paper Friday, and then be able to bring him back to make his scheduled start on Tuesday against the Mets at Turner Field.
Kimbrel, 22, appeared in eight games with the Braves, going 2-0 with a 1.08 ERA. He struck out 15 in 8 2/3 innings, but walked 10.
Wildness has been Kimbrel's issue at Gwinnett, as well. He is 3-2 with 22 saves for the G-Braves, but has 34 walks to go with his 76 strikeouts in 51 2/3 innings. Major Leaguers were hitting .129 against Kimbrel, and Minor Leaguers .153.
Minor, 22, struck out 12 over six innings in a victory over the Cubs at Wrigley Field last Sunday to break the Atlanta rookie record. The left-hander is 2-0 with a 4.00 ERA in three starts for the Braves. He has struck out 22 and walked four in 18 innings of work.
Chipper returns to cheer on Braves
ATLANTA -- Chipper Jones watched Braves batting practice from behind the cage Friday, serving as a volunteer batting coach next to Terry Pendleton. Then he watched the game against the Marlins from the dugout in full uniform.
Jones, who began riding a stationary bike this week, still faces a major rehab to get ready for next season. But he is already walking as if he never had ACL surgery on his left knee.
"The knee feels good," said Jones, who was operated on Aug. 14. "It's good to be back in uniform. I want to help the team any way I can and root the guys on."
Jones said he plans to be with the Braves at home and on the road the rest of the season, and hopefully through the playoffs.
"Now that I'm off crutches, I don't knee to worry about anybody running into me or something," he said.
Braves manager Bobby Cox marveled at his longtime third baseman's progress.
"He looks great," Cox said. "It's a lot simpler operation now than it used to be. I just hope he doesn't try to go out there and take ground balls."
Schafer done for season at Double-A
ATLANTA -- One-time top Braves prospect Jordan Schafer had his season come to an end when he had to go on the disabled list for a second time with Double-A Mississippi because of continued pain in his left hand.
Schafer, who started the 2009 season as the Braves' regular center fielder, had just six hits in 46 at-bats with Mississippi since being sent down from Triple-A, where he hit .201 in 52 games for Gwinnett.
"He was swinging in too much pain, and it had become counterproductive to have him keep playing," said Kurt Kemp, the Braves' director of player development. "So we decided to shut him down and go the rehab route again for as long as it takes. The pain has to go away and he has to build his strength back up."
Schafer, who turns 24 soon, had surgery last September and missed Spring Training and the first six weeks of the season. He played in just 76 games total this year.
Playing winter ball would allow Schafer to make up some of the missed time, but his availability remains in doubt.
"We'll have to see how he feels," Kemp said. "We don't want him to have a setback."
Guy Curtright is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.