Notes: Clean bill of health for Wickman

Notes: Clean bill of health for Wickman

PHILADELPHIA -- When Braves manager Bobby Cox arrived at Citizens Bank Park on Friday afternoon, he felt there was a chance he'd use Octavio Dotel as his closer if Bob Wickman was unavailable.

Little did Cox know that he'd receive encouraging news regarding Wickman's right forearm, and then within the next hour, learn that he'd have to put Dotel on the 15-day disabled list with what is being termed a right shoulder strain.

"It's not like a dangerous injury," Dotel said. "It's a muscle strain. But it doesn't let me do what I like to do."

Courtesy of a CAT scan that was performed at a Philadelphia-area hospital on Friday afternoon, Wickman was relieved to learn the right forearm discomfort he's felt for the past two weeks has been a product of inflammation and not structural damage.

"It clears my mind," Wickman said. "I'm 38. You never know."

Cox didn't know that he'll be spending the next two weeks without Dotel until the right-handed reliever felt prolonged discomfort while playing catch during Friday's batting practice.

Dotel, who was acquired from the Royals on July 31, felt a twinge in his right armpit while allowing a run and two hits against the Rockies on Sunday. During his perfect inning against the Mets on Tuesday, he felt much better than he had while warming up in the bullpen.

But when he attempted to warm up to enter Wednesday night's game, Dotel experienced stiffness that prevented him from throwing.

When Cox asked Dotel to assess his situation after feeling prolonged stiffness Friday, the right-handed reliever said it would likely be another three or four days before he could pitch again. At that point, the Braves opted to put him on the disabled list.

"It's a hard situation for me right now," said Dotel, who is confident that he'll be ready when eligible for activation on Aug. 23.

Wickman, who has allowed just one run in the 9 1/3 innings he's completed since the All-Star break, is also confident that the inflammation in his right forearm won't be a problem. The veteran closer plans to play catch on flat ground more consistently in between appearances -- a practice that he's reduced as he's gotten older.

While warming up to enter Tuesday's game against the Mets, Wickman felt stiffness in his right forearm and decided it was time to make sure he wasn't battling a significant injury. He underwent an MRI exam in New York on Thursday and was scheduled to be evaluated in Atlanta on Friday, before his late Thursday evening flight was canceled.

Injury-plagued bullpen: When this season started, the Braves were ecstatic about the fact that they had three potential closers in their bullpen -- Wickman, Rafael Soriano and Mike Gonzalez. Long after Gonzalez needed to undergo season-ending left elbow surgery, they once again seemed to have a third potential closer in Dotel.

But instead of being able to boast about the strength of his bullpen, Cox has been forced to spend more time finding arms to fortify it. The latest addition is Manny Acosta, who was recalled from Triple-A Richmond on Friday. Acosta, a 26-year-old right-hander, posted a 2.26 ERA and limited opponents to a .218 batting average in 40 appearances for Richmond this year.

If necessary, Acosta, who has battled control problems during his professional career, can provide long relief. He worked at least two innings in his past two appearances with Richmond.

Memorable moment: When Willie Harris reached above the left-center field wall at Shea Stadium to rob Carlos Delgado of a game-tying homer in the ninth inning of Thursday's 7-6 win over the Mets, he didn't realize how good it looked. The 29-year-old outfielder got a better look through the countless replays he saw televised on Thursday night.

"That's the best play I've ever made in the big leagues," said Harris, whose most memorable big league moment came when he scored the decisive run that allowed the White Sox to clinch the 2005 World Series.

Because Harris made his leap on Thursday off of both feet, Braves right-handed reliever Peter Moylan is now referring to the outfielder as Spud Webb.

Coming up: The Braves will continue their three-game series against the Phillies on Saturday at 7:05 p.m. ET. They'll send Lance Cormier (0-2, 15.58 ERA) to the mound to oppose Adam Eaton (9-7, 6.09).

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