Saito could be ready to pitch this weekend

Saito could be ready to pitch this weekend

PHILADELPHIA -- When Takashi Saito was forced to exit Friday night's appearance against the Mets with right shoulder discomfort, Braves manager Bobby Cox was among those who gained the sense that the veteran reliever might not be able to pitch again this year.

But the Braves received some encouraging news Monday afternoon when they learned an MRI exam performed in Atlanta showed no structural damage in Saito's shoulder. It appears the discomfort might have been caused by tendinitis.

Saito will rejoin the club Tuesday and possibly be ready to pitch this weekend against the Nationals. The 40-year-old right-handed reliever may be cleared to throw a bullpen as early as Wednesday.

"I was prepared for the possibility that that would be it for him," Cox said. "But he's really a tough guy. He's telling the trainers all the time, 'Whatever it takes to get me out there, get me out there. I'll worry about next year, next year.' He's got a great attitude."

When Saito's right shoulder began bothering him during the All-Star break, the Braves began carefully monitoring his workload. In the 16 appearances he's made since July 30, he has worked 15 2/3 innings without allowing an earned run. In the process, he has limited opponents to a .158 batting average and recorded 20 strikeouts, while issuing just one walk.