PHILADELPHIA – After fearing the worst with reliever Takashi Saito’s pitching shoulder, manager Bobby Cox and the Braves got good news Monday when an MRI showed only tendinitis and no structural damage.
Manager Bobby Cox said the veteran setup man would rejoin the Braves in Philadelphia and could be ready to pitch during the Washington series that begins Friday.
Saito, 40, returned to Atlanta for the MRI on Monday, after leaving Friday’s game in New York with two outs in the eighth inning. Cox had been worried that Saito might not pitch again this season if the pain was bad enough to force the tough right-hander from a game.
“I was prepared for that to be the end,” Cox said. “You know, he’s 40 years old. He’s pitched an awful lot here and Japan… He’s a special guy.”
Saito has 2.52 ERA in 55 appearances and ranks ninth among NL relievers with a .196 opponents’ average and seventh with 11.57 strikeouts per nine innings.
In 16 appearances since July 30, he’s allowed only nine hits, no earned runs and one walk with 20 strikeouts in 15-2/3 innings.
Cox initially said Monday that there might be a chance Saito could pitch as soon as Wednesday’s series finale at Philadelphia. Cox seemed to back away from that when he said later that Saito would first need to test the shoulder with a side session.