ATLANTA -- When right-hander Kris Medlen was making his way through the Minor Leagues, a high-ranking Braves official described him as a talented pitcher, "who probably thinks he is the best shortstop in our organization."
Guided by this quiet confidence, Medlen has found success in the Major Leagues as a starting pitcher, a relief pitcher and now an offensive threat. On the way to notching a three-inning save in Friday night's win over the Pirates, he began the bottom of the eighth with a line drive single to right field.
While addressing the media on Saturday afternoon, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez explained Medlen's ritual before what was his first at-bat since Aug. 4, 2010.
"He's got the pine tar going and he's got the [rosin bag] and he's preparing his bat," Gonzalez said. "I said, 'Would you go out there and get ready to hit?' I said, 'You better be ready to hit after doing all of that [stuff] you're doing.'"
After raising his batting average to .146 (6-for-41) with the leadoff single, Medlen looked back toward Gonzalez in the dugout and touched the brim of his batting helmet.
With All-Star catcher Brian McCann unavailable because of a right intercostal strain and Matt Diaz forced into the emergency catcher's role, Gonzalez was dealing with a thin bench on Saturday night. He said Medlen could be used as a pinch-hitter. The versatile pitcher was unavailable to pitch after completing three innings on Friday.