ATLANTA -- Matt Diaz did not need to be reminded that his two-run shot during Friday night's six-run fifth inning was his first home in a little more than 19 months. In fact, it did not take him long to point out that his previous one had been hit in the same inning that Brian McCann was awarded a walk-off home run after umpires used instant replay during an Aug. 29, 2010, game against the Marlins.
"I don't have that many, I remember them all," Diaz playfully said in reference to his 44 career home runs.
Diaz entered this year not expecting to get a lot of opportunities to be in the starting lineup. But with Chipper Jones dealing with his surgically repaired left knee and the Braves facing left-handed starting pitchers in five of their first seven games, the veteran outfielder has already started four games.
"While any competitor is thrilled with playing time, I know the best thing for us this year is for me to play as little as possible," Diaz said. "It's weird to say. But that is the way our team is designed and needs to be designed."
The opportunity to play on a regular basis over the past week could benefit Diaz as he prepares to spend most of his time this year serving as a pinch-hitter who could occasionally be in the lineup against left-handed starting pitchers. He has batted .154 (2-for-13) and drawn three walks in his first 16 plate appearances.
"The average isn't where I want it, but the at-bats are," Diaz said. "I don't remember the last time I had three walks in a month. I'm having good at-bats and I feel good. But I know my role on this team, and that is the less I start, the better the team is."