ATLANTA -- Jair Jurrjens proved to be one the National League's best pitchers in the first half of this season. But after spending the last two weeks on the disabled list, he says he feels the best he has since the start of Spring Training.
"This is the best I've felt this year," he said. "You can see the 15 days was a good idea. We didn't want to do it, but sometimes you need to be smart and not let the leg be a big thing."
Jurrjens, who was placed on the DL on Aug. 6 with a right knee strain, clearly hasn't been the same pitcher in the second half that he was through the first three months of the season. He's gone 0-1 with a 6.26 ERA in four starts since the break after going 12-3 with a 1.87 ERA in his 16 starts before the Midsummer Classic.
"I think at times, when you get that kind of breather -- especially late in August -- I think it kind of recharges your batteries a little bit," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "He didn't get a break, really, at the All-Star break. He pitched. And he was trying to get through that with the legs.
"Maybe this was the perfect time for him to recharge his battery and go the rest of the way."
The Braves have had two off-days since Jurrjens initially went on the disabled list, allowing the right-hander to miss just two starts in that time. He's scheduled to return to the hill Wednesday against the Giants at Turner Field.
"I feel fine," he said. "We've been working really hard on getting my strength in my leg back. It's feeling really good."
Doctors told Jurrjens that his knee might encounter some problems after he underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus in it last October, but he didn't expect it to happen this quickly. Jurrjens said he's since had to alter some of his weekly workout routines.
He used to run poles after his starts before running inside the next day and outside the day after that. Now Jurrjens is being advised to take as much pressure off the knee as he can, so he'll start doing his workouts on the bike and elliptical instead.
"They advised me to stay off the field," he said. "They don't want to pound the knee anymore."
Jurrjens, who threw a successful bullpen session on Sunday, will now try to reclaim the form that had some fans calling for him to start July's All-Star Game.
"Everything feels really fine coming out," Jurrjens said. "I'm working on some mechanical stuff to get back on the same path I was in April and at the start of the season."
Uggla needs torrid clip to avoid lowest average
ATLANTA -- Dan Uggla's Atlanta-record 33-game hitting streak ended during Sunday's loss to the Cubs, but memories will remain with those who marveled at the feat he began when he was hitting just .173.
Uggla batted .377 (49-for-130) during the hitting streak and raised his batting average to .231 entering Monday's series opener with the Giants. The second baseman joined Joe DiMaggio as the only players to hit at least 15 homers during a streak of at least 30 games, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
But Uggla will likely end this season with a batting average lower than that of any Major Leaguer who has enjoyed a streak of at least 30 games.
Willy Taveras owns the distinction of the lowest batting average (.278) in the same season he produced a 30-game hitting streak (2006). If Uggla maintains his current pace, he will end this season with 604 at-bats.
Using this figure, he would have to hit .418 (64-for-153) over the season's final 41 games for a higher average than Taveras' in '06. That would leave him with a .2781 average, slightly better than Taveras' .2778 mark.
Coming out of nowhere to provide consistency and power over a six-week stretch, Uggla helped the Braves keep their heads above water while both Chipper Jones and Brian McCann were on the disabled list. There was a period during which he and teammate Freddie Freeman (20 games) owned the Majors' two longest hitting streaks.
"I think if those guys weren't doing that, we wouldn't be where we are right now," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
Chipper sore, out of starting lineup vs. Giants
ATLANTA -- Braves manger Fredi Gonzalez opted to keep Chipper Jones out of Monday's lineup so the veteran could rest his left knee. Jones felt discomfort in his knee after he raced to first base attempting to beat out a grounder in the eighth inning of Sunday's loss to the Cubs.
"When he ran to first base, he kind of jammed [his knee] a little bit," Gonzalez said. "I'm going to give him a little breather. He's a little sore today, so I didn't want to take any chances."
This is the first time Jones has experienced a problem with his left knee since the last week of February. There was initially concern surrounding his knee, as it's the one that was surgically repaired last August after he tore his left anterior cruciate ligament for the second time in his career.
Jones underwent arthroscopic surgery on July 9 to repair a torn meniscus that caused him right knee discomfort during the season's first half. When the third baseman returned on July 25, he strained his right quadriceps muscle and was limited to pinch-hit duties over the next nine games.
The Braves kept Jones out of Sunday's starting lineup to allow him to rest. He entered in the eighth inning as a pinch-hitter and played the remainder of the game.
When his lineup is at full strength, Gonzalez said he will likely bat Jones in the sixth spot. Brian McCann, Dan Uggla and Freddie Freeman will occupy the third, fourth and fifth spots of the lineup on a regular basis.
Moylan encouraged after batting practice
ATLANTA -- Braves reliever Peter Moylan threw batting practice on Monday for the first time since undergoing back surgery on May 17.
The right-hander threw 30 times -- using all of his pitches -- and came away pleased with the results.
"I felt good," he said. "It felt good to be back on the hill facing hitters."
Moylan will likely throw another round of BP on Wednesday before possibly beginning a rehab assignment. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez expected Moylan could be out for about a week on the following schedule: pitch, off-day, pitch and then two days off before finishing by pitching in consecutive games.
"He's anxious to get going," Gonzalez said. "We're really close to sending him out for a rehab assignment."
Moylan, who is still projected to be with the Braves sometime near the end of August, couldn't tell what kind of movement his pitches had Monday, but he knew he was having success against the hitters.
"They were hitting everything on the ground," he said. "That usually tells me the ball was going down at least a little bit."
He is certain of one thing, though: his back has never felt better.
"I think my arm strength has gotten better every bullpen," he said. "As far as the back goes, it's been perfect. There's not even a question about my back."