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Notes: No timetable for Dotel's return

Notes: No timetable for Dotel's return

ST. LOUIS -- When Octavio Dotel took the mound at Shea Stadium on Aug. 7, he was still feeling some of the right shoulder discomfort that had suddenly appeared just two days earlier. Still, the veteran right-handed reliever said he had no reason to think the ailment was one that would put the remainder of his season in jeopardy.

"I pitched because I didn't think it was a big deal," Dotel said. "But I guess it was a big deal."

Whether or not the prolonged discomfort Dotel is continuing to experience becomes a damaging deal will be determined over the next few weeks. While he's confident that he'll pitch again this season, he certainly didn't enhance any sense of optimism on Friday afternoon, when he was definitely limited during a 25-pitch side session.

"I was expecting it was going to be ready, but it's not," said Dotel, who hadn't previously thrown a side session since being placed on the 15-day disabled list on Aug. 10, retroactive to Aug. 8.

Dotel still believes he'll pitch again this season. At the same time, he realizes the significant effect of his current unavailability. If he were healthy, he'd serve as the most experienced candidate to fill the closer's role, which was vacated Friday, when Bob Wickman was designated for assignment.

"I'm going to be back, but I don't know when," said Dotel, who learned via an MRI exam performed Aug. 13 in Atlanta that he's not battling any structural damage in his shoulder.

Unfortunately for the Braves, Dotel says his discomfort is primarily located in his right triceps muscle. His description is similar to the one Lance Cormier was providing when he was sidelined at the end of Spring Training. It took nearly two full months for Cormier to begin pitching again and even then, he hadn't regained all of his strength.

If Dotel isn't able to return within the next month, his acquisition will be one that is discussed for many years to come. While there were no signs of him being unhealthy before being acquired from the Royals on July 31, there will still be critics who will question the Braves' decision to trade Kyle Davies for a right-handed reliever whose career in Atlanta might possibly consist of just four appearances.

Because he will be eligible for free agency at the end of this year, the 33-year-old Dotel knows the importance of at least returning to the mound this season to prove he's healthy.

"I want to play for the team and myself," said Dotel, who refers to September as "The Money Month."

Cox, La Russa unite: They both love dogs and both rank among the top four winningest managers in Major League history. But it's safe to say that Braves manager Bobby Cox and Cardinals manager Tony La Russa don't exchange Christmas cards.

Still, the two were united before Saturday's game when they stood behind the plate to watch longtime Cardinals beat writer Rick Hummel deliver the ceremonial first pitch. As the 2006 recipient of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award, Hummel was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame last month.

Hummel, known by many as "The Commish," has had a good relationship with Cox for more than 25 years, and asked the Braves manager to participate in the ceremony.

"He's a great guy," Cox said. "He's always smiling and fun to be around. He gets your respect real quick."

Red-hot Teixeira: Since being acquired from the Rangers at the trade deadline, Mark Teixeira has been one of the game's most productive players. Entering Saturday, the 10 homers and 29 RBIs he'd tallied in his first 22 games with the Braves both stood as Major League-best totals for the month of August.

When Teixeira was acquired, many Braves fans compared his acquisition to the one that brought Fred McGriff to Atlanta in 1993. While McGriff played a large part in that team's turnaround, he wasn't nearly as productive as Big Tex has been so far.

Through his first 22 games with the Braves that year, McGriff hit seven homers and tallied 15 RBIs. In fairness, he did hit .341 -- a little better than the .296 mark that Teixeira has thus far compiled.

James scheduled for test: Chuck James believes his current stint on the disabled list will provide plenty of time for his inflamed left shoulder to heal. The 25-year-old southpaw, who will be eligible for activation on Sept. 1, plans to throw a bullpen session on Monday.

Coming up: The Braves will conclude their three-game series against the Cardinals on Sunday at 2:15 p.m. ET. They'll send Jo-Jo Reyes (0-1, 9.62 ERA) to the mound to oppose Adam Wainwright (11-9, 3.97 ERA).

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

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