WASHINGTON -- While Matt Diaz is hoping to avoid season-ending surgery on his right thumb, Jonny Venters has returned to the Majors with the hope that he will finish this season much stronger than he started it.
With the need to have some bullpen arms available for Saturday's doubleheader, the Braves activated Venters from the disabled list a few days earlier than expected. The veteran reliever took the roster spot opened when Diaz was placed on the disabled list with a thumb ailment that is very similar to the one that sidelined him for two months in 2010.
Because they had thrown each of the three previous days, closer Craig Kimbrel and top setup man Eric O'Flaherty were only going to be used if absolutely necessary on Saturday. Thus, the Braves made the decision to have Venters skip his last scheduled rehab appearance with Triple-A Gwinnett on Sunday. He had been on the disabled list since July 5 with a left elbow impingement.
Diaz has been dealing with an open wound at the bottom of his right hand. An MRI performed on Monday showed two foreign bodies. The veteran outfielder is currently taking a heavy dose of antibiotics, with the hope that he will avoid an infection that would force him to undergo surgery.
"Two years ago, it was busting open on a daily basis," Diaz said. "This time, it has only busted open twice in the past two weeks. What I told [manager Fredi Gonzalez] yesterday was that what I've been giving you for the past month is what I've got, and I'm happy to give it to you for the rest of the year, but I'm not helping anybody."
When Diaz missed the final three games of the 2009 season with a similar ailment, doctors removed particles from his thumb that were consistent with makeup of palm needles. He believes this might have been a result getting stuck with a palm needle while trimming a tree at his house after the 2006 season.
After missing two months during the 2010 season, Diaz had not experienced any problems until getting jammed with a pitch during the June 10 loss to the Blue Jays. He dealt with the discomfort over the following weeks. But his thumb worsened after he was jammed with a John Santana pitch on Sunday and a Madison Bumgarner pitch on Thursday.
When Diaz was unable to hold a bat late Friday afternoon, he informed Gonzalez his condition was not improving.
"It's been bothering me for a while and I've tried to play through it," Diaz said. "But I've not been effective doing it."