ATLANTA -- For a 13-day stretch beginning Friday against the Dodgers, the Braves plan to employ a six-man rotation, manager Fredi Gonzalez said Monday.
The Braves are three games into a stretch of 20 straight days without an off-day and want to give their starters an extra day of rest as the stretch run approaches. Veteran right-handers Tim Hudson and Ben Sheets both have a long history of injuries and Tommy Hanson is returning from the 15-day disabled list to start Friday's game.
"We did it because there were some concerns about taking care of some of the guys and we only have two off-days in August," Gonzalez said. "We need to be able to go into September with all the cylinders hitting and everybody healthy. And this is one way to keep those guys healthy."
Hudson said he appreciates getting an extra day of rest at this time of the season.
"Obviously, when there's a time where there's not a lot of off-days, it gives us some rest," Hudson said. "Especially this time of year, this is the dog days of the season. Anytime you can get some rest is welcome for sure."
The Braves suddenly have a surplus of starting pitchers after moving right-hander Kris Medlen from the bullpen to the rotation July 30 to replace Jair Jurrjens, who was struggling and is now on the 15-day disabled list with a groin strain. Hanson went on the disabled list the next day with a lower back strain. His spot was taken by left-hander Paul Maholm, who was acquired in a Trade Deadline deal with the Cubs.
After two turns through the expanded rotation, Gonzalez said the Braves would pick their best five starters and return to a five-man rotation for September. Gonzalez said seniority would not be a factor when deciding September's rotation.
While Medlen is the only member of the six-man rotation with significant bullpen experience, Gonzalez said that doesn't mean he will be the odd man out in September. He has pitched well in three starts -- going 2-0 with a 1.62 ERA -- and if he continues to do so, Gonzalez said he would keep him in the rotation.
"If Medlen's pitching the way he's pitching, for me, he stays in the rotation," Gonzalez said. "We'll figure it out."
Expanded rotation creates tough roster decision
ATLANTA -- Having made the decision to employ a six-man rotation for the rest of August, the Braves must now decide whether they prefer to have a short bench or a smaller bullpen for two weeks.
Manager Fredi Gonzalez said he would like to keep the bullpen intact, but knows the Braves' four-game series against the Padres could determine what roster move the team needs to make.
"That may take care of itself," Gonzalez said. "You think you've got everything planned out and all of a sudden somebody gets hurt and it goes out the window."
The Braves don't have to make a final decision until Friday when right-hander Tommy Hanson is activated from the 15-day disabled list to start against the Dodgers.
Simmons hopes to begin baseball activities soon
ATLANTA -- Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons was one of four injured Braves scheduled to meet with Dr. Gary Lourie on Monday at Turner Field.
Simmons has been on the 15-day disabled list since breaking his right pinkie finger July 8 in the Braves' 4-3 victory in Philadelphia on the final day before the All-Star break. He has begun therapy and is hopeful he will soon be cleared to begin baseball activities.
Simmons said his hand feels fine.
"I can pretty much do everything with it," Simmons said. "It's still a bit sore. I have to stretch it out a bit still, but it feels great."
Manager Fredi Gonzalez said shortstop Jack Wilson, outfielder Matt Diaz and catching prospect Christian Bethancourt were all scheduled to see Lourie as well.
Wilson is back in Atlanta after suffering another setback in his rehab with Triple-A Gwinnett. Wilson has been on the 15-day disabled list since July 14 with a dislocated right pinkie finger.
Diaz has been on the 15-day disabled list since July 21 with a right thumb bruise. Betancourt, who entered the season ranked as the Braves' No. 3 prospect and has been at Double-A Mississippi all season, broke his left hand Aug. 9 when he was hit by a pitch and is out for the year.
Teddy Cahill is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.