Notes: Wickman to return Tuesday

Notes: Wickman to return Tuesday

WASHINGTON -- Bob Wickman is a private individual who doesn't exactly wear his emotions on his sleeves. But many of his Braves teammates have come to know over the past two weeks that it definitely bothers the veteran closer when he's unable to pitch.

Wickman's short period of inactivity will expire on Tuesday, when he is activated from the 15-day disabled list. While throwing multiple bullpen sessions over the past week, he has been comforted by the fact that he no longer has any discomfort in the right side of his upper back.

"I've thrown four strong bullpens and haven't had any effects from it at all," said Wickman, whose aliment was diagnosed as being tendinitis.

"I had a knot up in there and it was hampering my throwing. Would I have been able to continue throwing with it? Who knows? But what put me on the DL, isn't there now."

While successfully converting each of the six save opportunities that they've shared since Wickman was disabled on April 30, Rafael Soriano and Mike Gonzalez have supported the theory that either of them can handle the closer's role.

But Cox put an end to any role reversals on Monday afternoon, when he confirmed that Wickman will return as the primary closer.

"Yeah, why not?" Cox said. "He's good at it."

Wickman had converted 24 of 25 save opportunities before enduring a rough stretch in late April. In his final three appearances before going on the disabled list, he blew two save opportunities and allowed 11 of the 17 batters he faced to reach safely.

If there is ever a time when Wickman needs rest, Cox won't hesitate to use either Soriano or Gonzalez as his closer.

Chipper out again: For the first time since badly bruising both of his palms following a collision with Pirates third baseman Jose Bautista on Friday night, Chipper Jones was able to take batting practice. But he still wasn't healthy enough to return to the lineup for Monday night's series opener against the Nationals at RFK Stadium.

"His thumbs are what he landed on and they're still sore as the dickens," said Cox of Jones, who has been out of the lineup for three straight games.

Jones didn't appear to have a lot of discomfort while taking his batting practice swings and was potentially available to pinch-hit on Monday night. Cox is hoping his veteran third baseman is able to return to the lineup on Tuesday.

Injured starters updates: It was a tale of two different Sundays for Anthony Lerew and Mark Redman. While Lerew's control problems limited him to just 3 2/3 innings against the Pirates, Redman tossed five scoreless frames for Triple-A Richmond at Durham. It was his first Minor League rehab assignment since going on the 15-day disabled list because of an ingrown nail on his left big toe.

"He's fine," Cox said. "His toe feels good."

Redman will be eligible for activation on Friday, which is also when Lerew is scheduled to make his next start. For now, it appears the Braves are deliberating about which one of them to use in that evening's series opener against the Red Sox at Fenway Park.

"I don't know; we'll see," Cox said. "Right now, it's Lerew."

Redman, who has posted a 10.62 ERA in the five starts he's made for the Braves this year, hasn't exactly had much previous success at Fenway Park. In seven career appearances (six starts) there, he is 1-5 with a 7.79 ERA.

In other rehab news, Cox said that Lance Cormier will begin his Minor League rehab process on Saturday with a scheduled two-inning stint for Double-A Mississippi. The right-hander, who has been out all season with a strained right triceps muscle, will make two starts for Mississippi and then possibly complete his rehab with a May 29 start for Triple-A Richmond.

Langy on trades: When the A's told Ryan Langerhans that they were trading him to the Nationals just three days after acquiring him from the Braves, he got a phone call from Jones.

"Chipper called and said, 'Hey, look at the bright side, you get to see us in a couple of weeks,'" Langerhans said. "It's good to see the guys again and talk to them again. I'm looking forward to get to play against them."

When the Braves arrived in Washington, D.C., on Sunday evening, Langerhans went over and renewed acquaintances with many of his former teammates. During Monday night's series opener, he served as the Nationals' starting left fielder.

In his first 10 games with Washington, Langerhans compiled four hits. In 44 at-bats with the Braves in April, he had just three hits.

Coming up: The Braves will continue their four-game series against the Nationals on Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. ET. They'll send Tim Hudson (4-1, 1.83) to the mound to oppose Jerome Williams (0-4, 6.11).

Mark Bowman is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.