ATLANTA -- As the Atlanta Braves continue their May charge toward the top of the National League East, two key but currently missing pieces of their puzzle, left fielder Matt Diaz and pitcher Jair Jurrjens, are slowly but surely working their way back to health.
Diaz sported a cast on his right thumb, which required surgery after a splinter that had lodged in the thumb grew infected. He had successful surgery on May 19, although it turned out to be more extensive than Dr. Gary Lourie, who performed the operation, had originally expected.
"I got eight or nine stitches," he said prior to Friday's game with the Pirates. "[Dr. Lourie] said everything went well. It was just a lot more cutting than he thought."
Diaz needs to keep the thumb still until he gets the stitches out (which he expects to happen the middle of next week), and while he hasn't gotten an official date to resume baseball activities, he hoped to start swinging a bat in about four weeks and be playing around the All-Star Break.
While his timing at the plate may need some extra work, he showed on Friday that his comedic timing has remained virtually unaffected.
"There's still a lot I can do. I can say in shape," Diaz said, adding with a laugh, "I'm not in too great shape to begin with, so I don't have a long way to go."
Jurrjens, who is rehabbing from a left hamstring strain, which has kept him out since April 29, was cautious about his rehab, but optimistic. He is doing light running, agility drills and long tossing, but didn't have a timetable for throwing off the mound.
"I need to wait and see what the doctors say," said Jurrjens, who was due to be examined by team doctors on Friday evening. "I'm trying to be patient."
The team's success, especially their recently completed 4-2 road trip, is proving to be, if not therapeutic, at least consolation.
"It always feels better watching them win," said Diaz.