WASHINGTON -- Initially the Braves were hoping Takashi Saito might be able to rejoin their bullpen mix this weekend. But instead of testing his sore right shoulder with a bullpen session on Friday, the Japanese reliever simply played catch.
"I didn't throw as hard as I could, but it still didn't feel that bad," said Saito, who remains hopeful that his recent right shoulder discomfort is simply a product of tendinitis.
Saito hopes to be able to throw a bullpen session before the Braves conclude this weekend's series against the Nationals. This presents the possibility that the 40-year-old righty could begin pitching again during next week's series against the Marlins.
"I gained a little confidence, but I kind of felt that I could throw as much as I did today," Saito said through his interpreter. "It's what's ahead that I'm still not sure about."
Braves, Hainje visit soldiers at Walter Reed
WASHINGTON -- When Braves director of media relations Brad Hainje revealed that he planned to visit his cousin at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Derek Lowe was among the players who volunteered to join him and visit a group of wounded soldiers.
"When we first got there people were thanking us for coming," Lowe said. "I said to them, 'It's the complete opposite. From our point of view, we thank you.' It puts life and the struggles of your own everyday grind in perspective.
"Here we are. Yes, we want to win, and we want to do all of these great things. But these guys we were talking to lost arms, legs, eyes. They're really dealing with some serious hardships, and we're trying to win a baseball game. Not to lessen what our job is, but at the end of the day, you can't substitute health."
Hainje's 25-year-old cousin, Eric Braman, lost a portion of his lower right leg when his two-vehicle convoy was bombed last month in Afghanistan. The two soldiers sitting in the front seat of his military vehicle were killed.
Encouraged by what doctors have told him about the prosthetic that he will receive within the next couple of months, Braman gave Hainje reason to believe he's still got a relatively positive outlook on life. The wounded soldier talked to Lowe for nearly 30 minutes about fantasy football, and how his beloved Notre Dame football team should have beaten Lowe's boys from the University of Michigan a few weeks ago.
"It's eye-opening," Lowe said. "These are really the only people I've ever spoken to who have been there. They told us about what a normal day was like there. Here we are trying to figure out if we need to throw a guy a sinker or a curveball. Again, not to lessen what we do, but it definitely makes you take a step back and say, 'What's a bad day?'"
Lowe, Matt Diaz, Scott Proctor, Brooks Conrad, Mike Dunn and Craig Kimbrel each decided to accompany Hainje without any urging from the Braves.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.