Braves bring back popular OF Diaz (updated story)

When outfielder Matt Diaz walked into the Braves clubhouse  at 4:18 p.m. on Wednesday, it seemed as if he’d never left. Only the Pirates equipment bag he was lugging looked out of place.

The Braves re-acquired  the popular outfielder from Pittsburgh on  Wednesday in a trade for a player to be named. The Pirates also gave the Braves an undisclosed amount of cash to cover a portion of Diaz’s $2 million salary in 2012.

“I couldn’t sleep much last night, thinking about what it would be,” said Diaz, who was told Tuesday night he would likely be traded, but not which team he might be going to.  “Then at 10:30 this morning — Central Standard Time — I got the best news I could have imagined. I got on a plane within an hour-and-a-half, I think.”

He gives the Braves a right-handed bat off the bench to complement left-handed hitter Eric Hinske, and Diaz will also get some starts against lefties. He was immediately inserted in the lineup against Washington lefty John Lannan on Wednesday.

“The numbers show he can handle Lannan,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said of Diaz, who came in 12-for-30 (.400) against Lannan. “He can handle a lot of left-handers around the league, which is nice to have because [the Braves lineup is] so left-handed dominant.

“And you’ve got Hinske and him the days they don’t play, and I know from experience sitting [in the other dugout], it’s not a good feeling when you have Hinske from the left side, and Matt Diaz from the right side and you don’t know who to bring in [to face them]. Or if you bring in the righty to face Diaz, I could use Hinkse to pinch hit for him.”

Diaz, 33, hit .305 with 41 homers and a .353 on-base percentage in five seasons with the Braves through 2010, serving mainly as a platoon player and pinch-hitter. They made the trade before Tuesday’s deadline for Diaz to be eligible for the postseason roster.

The Pirates will get a player from a pool of lower-level minor league prospects the two teams have agreed upon. That selection could happen soon, but neither team said when.

Diaz signed a two-year, $4.25 million contract with Pittsburgh in December, after the Braves decided they didn’t want to pay the $3 million or so that he would have commanded through arbitration.

They had claimed Joe Mather off waivers from St. Louis in November expecting him to fill Diaz’s former role, but Mather was waived by the Braves in June after hitting .213 with one homer in 75 at-bats.

Diaz had a disappointing season with the Pirates, batting .259 with no homers and a .303 OBP in 231 plate appearances. However, he hit .295 against lefties including .370 since June. He was 11-for-44 as a pinch-hitter.

Against lefties, the Braves ranked last in the National League in average (.227) and on-base percentage  (.296).

Braves pinch-hitters were 12th in the NL with a .196 overall average before Wednesday, though they led the league with eight homers.

“This just works out absolutely perfect,” Diaz said of returning to the Braves. “Hopefully baseball-wise, getting back here where I’m comfortable, and where people know my funky swing, hopefully I can get something to click and put on a push here at the end of the season.”

The Braves wanted to add a right-handed bat, and Diaz’s lack of home runs this season didn’t concern them, general manager Frank Wren said.

“Especially after the [July 31 non-waiver trade] deadline when we got even more left-handed, it’s been one of the pieces we were looking for to solidify our club,” Wren said. “We know Matt can hit. He’s shown that. He’s swung the bat very well, especially against left-handers over the last couple months. He’s done what he’s always done.

“I don’t think his power has diminished in a year leaving us. We’ve see him do what he’s done from a power perspective and hopefully back in a familiar environment that’ll show.”

Diaz was a force against lefties during his years with the Braves, with  a gaudy .369 average, 17 homers and a .975 OPS against lefties during a three-season stretch through 2009.

His overall average slipped to .250 in 2010 with Atlanta, but he still hit .273 with five homers and an .830 OPS in 121 at-bats against lefties.

The Braves finalized the trade at about 10:45 a.m., and Diaz caught a flight from Houston to Atlanta. He went straight from the airport to the Turner Field home clubhouse that he’d worked out of for five seasons with the Braves through 2010.

“It’s like he never left,” said catcher Brian McCann, who had a quick reply when asked if Diaz could help the Braves. “Absolutely. Get some starts against left-handed pitching, get some pinch-hits off lefties; we all know he rakes them.”

A few minutes and a bunch of hugs later, Diaz and his once-and-again Braves teammates were back to the business of razzing each other and pursuing a playoff berth.

“Everybody’s happy,” Hinske said. “We need another right-handed bat, a guy that can hit lefties…. He’ll give us big at-bats late in the game against left-handed bullpen guys, and I think that’s one piece that we’ve been lacking. So it’s a good move for our team. Plus we know him.  He’s been here forever. It’s great to have him back.

“I’m sure he’s happy to be back, too. I’m sure he really didn’t want to leave. Just the contract situation didn’t work out for him. So, go somewhere else for a little bit, and now it’s worked out for him and the organization. Good for both sides.”

245 comments Add your comment

Andy A.

August 31st, 2011
12:27 pm

FIRST! I like have Diaz back. Plug him in the OF and good bat off the bench!

Tyler NJ Brave

August 31st, 2011
12:27 pm

welcome back matty D!

poop

August 31st, 2011
12:28 pm

I’m a fan. I’d be a fan of Jamey Carroll too.

erubi

August 31st, 2011
12:28 pm

WELCOME HOME MATTY!!

Tyler NJ Brave

August 31st, 2011
12:29 pm

Does this mean Constanza gets sent down? The only other option is Conrad.

gptreystl

August 31st, 2011
12:30 pm

Whose roster spot does he take since the rosters don’t expand until tomorrow?

richie

August 31st, 2011
12:34 pm

hopefully this wont be the only addition the braves make

Barves

August 31st, 2011
12:35 pm

So glad Matts back, he’s one of my favorite. Even if he doesn’t swing the bat great for the rest of the season, having the threat of a RH on the bench will change PH situations completely. It just throws a little wrench into the late-game plans of opposing managers.

Welcome back Matty Diaz!

Remarkable

August 31st, 2011
12:36 pm

Is this because of Haywards batting problems?

NickB

August 31st, 2011
12:36 pm

He doesn’t take a roster spot until he reports. So I’m assuming he will report tomorrow as part of the expansion.
I like Matt, but he’s only hitting lefties at a .704 OPS clip this year….. Let us hope a familiar setting will get him going. We could use his bat of the bench.

scott

August 31st, 2011
12:36 pm

Can’t they just leave him in AAA till tomorrow?

southern hope

August 31st, 2011
12:38 pm

I love him! and I’m super happy he’s back.

poop

August 31st, 2011
12:38 pm

If they’re able to acquire Jamey Carroll soon then they could just get rid of Lugo to make space for Diaz, then add Carroll when rosters expand. They can survive one day without a backup SS.

NickB

August 31st, 2011
12:38 pm

@ remarkable

No, it’s purely bench depth. We are bad against lefties and our only PH option against them is Conrad, who isn’t really much against them either as he tends to hit better left handed. Diaz will be our RH PH option against left handed pitching late in games. I reckon this means that this is Conrads last year with the big club tho.

SimpleDawg

August 31st, 2011
12:38 pm

Good to have Matty D back in the ATL. He will be an asset.

David O'Brien

August 31st, 2011
12:39 pm

By the way, Diaz is 12-for-30 against tonight’s starter Lannan.

Ralph

August 31st, 2011
12:39 pm

Let us pray the player to be named later is Linesuck!

The Abs Man

August 31st, 2011
12:40 pm

Always liked Matt’s hustle and game!

Ebenezer Snerdberg

August 31st, 2011
12:40 pm

First of all, WELCOME HOME MR DIE-AZ. Now, Tyler, I think Lugo could be got shut of with no pain at all. I’ve only seen him in two(2) games I ‘member as a PH!

NickB

August 31st, 2011
12:40 pm

@ Ralph

Linebrink is a FA after this year, so no Linebrink isn’t a the ptbnl

NickB

August 31st, 2011
12:41 pm

Oh I just read that he’s reporting for tonites game…. I wonder who gets dropped? Conrad or Lugo I expect

Virginia Ranger

August 31st, 2011
12:42 pm

I was hoping Matty could play shortstop. I did not see the early innings last night and was unaware Agone blew an opportunity for a baseloaded no out triple play. Crud he did not even hit into a DP.

By the way on that pop out why was the infield fly rule enforced. If the fielder had dropped the ball no one would be allowed to advance

Ebenezer Snerdberg

August 31st, 2011
12:43 pm

Hit the button too quick. Yea verily Ralph, Linestink would be good. Send him to Pittsburgh & UPS ground Lowe somewhere far far away!

O'flarity's water bottle

August 31st, 2011
12:43 pm

REALLY?…???

Tyler NJ Brave

August 31st, 2011
12:44 pm

Mr. Snerdberg, I would love to see Lugo go but that would never happen….There’s no way they’d move forward with one person able to play SS (Gonzo).

Zing

August 31st, 2011
12:45 pm

I could be mistaken, guys, but I think that because the rosters are expanding, nobody has to be sent down or released.

DHD

August 31st, 2011
12:45 pm

Not going to help us much. Been there, done that. of course, Atlanta fans and media are totally obsessed with former players. Just look at how many Vick articles make their way on this site. Somebody may have a man crush though.

Dan Faber

August 31st, 2011
12:46 pm

He’s not a Florida native, he’s from Portland, Oregon!

Abacus Skeptic

August 31st, 2011
12:46 pm

Always been a fan of Matty. Glad to see him back.

TeheranTime

August 31st, 2011
12:46 pm

Solid bench player. What, if anything, does this mean for Wes Helms?

Bone head

August 31st, 2011
12:47 pm

Could we not do better than that? For goodness sakes, he’s another has been. I wonder if some of you who are so welcoming of him are the same ones who are always on Chipper case.

Brooklyn Braves Brawler

August 31st, 2011
12:48 pm

Lugo is probably going to go, they will bring up Diory and Brandon Hicks tomorrow

Mitch McConnell's Chins

August 31st, 2011
12:48 pm

We hear the player to be named later is Mike Minor, but we hear it from Eric Cantor, so we’re not worried.

DePort

August 31st, 2011
12:48 pm

Who cares who gets sent down!!! .. they will be back tomorrow … can we complain about something that makes sense please!

Virginia Ranger

August 31st, 2011
12:49 pm

Florida,Oregon close. Much like Agones bat and a curve ball

Brandon

August 31st, 2011
12:50 pm

I feel Conrad will stay on the 40-man, he’s a switch-hitter, which helps.

I think either Lugo or McLouth will be taken off the 40-man, maybe a pitcher, but I doubt it.

Matty D has to be on the 40-man roster TODAY to be eligible for postseason.

As for Helms, eh, I don’t see him making a big impact.

Joe Braves Fan

August 31st, 2011
12:50 pm

CHAMPIONSHIP!

Memphis

August 31st, 2011
12:50 pm

Welcome Back Home Matty D!

Barney Franks Mouth

August 31st, 2011
12:51 pm

DOB, who’s going back to the G-Braves?

gcs

August 31st, 2011
12:51 pm

This deal is all about his .295 against lefties.

.

Dawgdad (The Original)

August 31st, 2011
12:51 pm

Glad he is back, obviously he was not highly thought of in Pittsburgh, as he never got to play regularly enough to get straightened out. Outfield getting crowded as management seems to want to keep running Heyward out there and they are not going to take much time away from Prado or Bourn. You gotta play Georgie some, so Matt looks like mostly a PH.

The Braves have needed someone to hit lefthanders all year and sad that they were too cheap to retain a proven mauler of LH pitchers.

rwrnole2

August 31st, 2011
12:52 pm

he is an FSU grad!

Ralph

August 31st, 2011
12:52 pm

My guess is Martinez gets optioned down then rought back after rosters expand. I would rather it would be Linesuck being DFA but that ain’t gonna happen as long as he has those dirty pictures of Fredi.

Brandon

August 31st, 2011
12:52 pm

And the thing with Diory, is that he isn’t on the 40-man roster, so he can’t be dropped today to make room for Diaz, and can’t be brought up after Sept. 1st, unless unless someone else has been DFA’d.

Joey

August 31st, 2011
12:53 pm

Maybe he’ll be so juiced over this, he’ll get on one of his tears. I’ve seen him carry the Braves over 2 or 3 weeks.

richie

August 31st, 2011
12:54 pm

honestly id rater give helms a go than conrad. he is OK in clutch this year but when he pinch hits. he strikes out alot. and we know how bad he can be with the glove so id go helms diaz hinske, barmes(aquire him) and heyward as our core bench, gotta keep constanza in that line up

Ebenezer Snerdberg

August 31st, 2011
12:54 pm

To paraphrase Tina Turner…what’s Helms got to do with it?

Piedmont Blues

August 31st, 2011
12:55 pm

They could send Martinez down today, activate Diaz, and then bring Martinez back when Gwinnett’s season is over. The big club will be adding Vizcaino and Delgado for bullpen help as soon as they’re needed in September anyway, so the pen would be “short” only one game.

Brandon

August 31st, 2011
12:56 pm

@richie, what, no backup C?

Fourbee

August 31st, 2011
12:56 pm

WELCOME HOME, MATTY D!!!!!
So glad to have him back. I was disappointed that they non-tendered him last year. Many times this year, when I saw the crappy pinch hitters they sent to face lefty pitchers, I wanted to cry, remembering Matty was no longer here. But, now he’s back and will regain the magic that he used to bring at the plate. I really feel that Matty was disheartened playing for Pittsburgh, when he really wanted to play for the Braves!
You’re home now, Matty. Show everyone why the Brave should never have released you! Go Matty D!

Ralph

August 31st, 2011
12:56 pm

@Zing

You are mistaken, can only have 25 on tonights roster, Diaz would make 26

NickB

August 31st, 2011
12:57 pm

Maybe they are going to finally send Constanza back to AAA where he belongs

Chimp Carey

August 31st, 2011
12:58 pm

Awesome!!! Made my day!!! Huge Diaz fan- I’m sure our guys are stoked about this!

Ray Ray

August 31st, 2011
12:58 pm

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Game 6, NLCS, bases loaded in the 8th. Matty D comes in and swings at three straight in the left handed batting box.

DOger

August 31st, 2011
12:58 pm

Ok send heyward down now

STRETCH

August 31st, 2011
1:00 pm

The Braves might not be done dealing, hears ESPN’s Buster Olney (Twitter link).

Mark's for the Braves

August 31st, 2011
1:01 pm

Welcome back Matty D!! Need a RH bat who can help. Who is player to be named later–McClouth?

anotherdawg

August 31st, 2011
1:01 pm

Great move! Solid right handed bat off the bench, plus he can help with “security” if any drunk fans run out on the field.

Skeezix

August 31st, 2011
1:01 pm

Great news!!! Matty is back!!! I needed to hear something positive about my Braves as it has been depressing lately. Hopefully he can lift the spirit of this team cause he has loads of it. Now I hope the Braves* will get back to playing winning baseball with heart….. and I can cut back on the Jack Daniels.

* both starting pitchers and hitters

David O'Brien

August 31st, 2011
1:01 pm

Bone head: Who did you think the Braves were going to get in a waiver trade, especially when they’re next-to-last team in NL to pick? (selection order is based on records).

Blackberry Cobbler

August 31st, 2011
1:03 pm

Will Frank Wren and the Braves ever do anything of significance to help the struggling offense on this team? All the Braves seem capable of doing, not always but for the most part, is picking up strays and retreads.

Ralph

August 31st, 2011
1:06 pm

Somebody correct me if i’m wrong but they can put a player on the post season roster after today if they are replacing an injured player, i.e, they could place Hanson and JJ on the DL and replace them with Delgado and Teheran since they are on the 40 man roster??????????

phil

August 31st, 2011
1:06 pm

No way Diaz could be more useful against a left handed pitcher than Wayward has been.

Just no way….

urban redneck

August 31st, 2011
1:07 pm

welcome home, matty d!! awwwwwwww yeah!!!!!!!!!!!!

Rufio

August 31st, 2011
1:07 pm

Finally!!

They should have not let him go to begin with in my opinion. Fans like Matt and I believe he is good in the clubhouse. He can play all outfield positions if necessary. Plus, he just hustles! The Braves can always use that type of leadership.

Good Deal Frank Wren !!!!

urban redneck

August 31st, 2011
1:08 pm

send heyward down?? people are dumb………….and bouchedags.

Chop Chop

August 31st, 2011
1:08 pm

Matt Diaz was our only hope. Hope has been restored.

Thank you, Frank Wren.

Doc Holliday

August 31st, 2011
1:09 pm

I guess none of you kool aid drinkers have checked out his stats for the season.

Skeezix

August 31st, 2011
1:09 pm

Remember when Matty tripped that crazy fan ( ‘Redman’?) who was running all over the outfield in Philly last year?

Funny as hell!! I think it is on You Tube.

David O'Brien

August 31st, 2011
1:09 pm

Ralph: Delgado and Teheran are already on 40. Anyone on the 40 is eligible for postseason roster. And anyone on DL (and anyone in organization by today can also be plugged into one of those spots of currently DL’d players).

TheREALJoeBravesFan

August 31st, 2011
1:10 pm

Hey DOB, kinda off topic, but what do you think the Braves chances are of acquiring Moustakas from the Royals in exchange for one of our top pitching prospects (or even one of our current young starters like JJ) as a backup, and eventual replacement, to Chipper in the offseason?

Oh, and not surprised about Matty D coming back…when he left, I figured he’d find his way back here, I just didn’t think it would be so soon.

BravesWin

August 31st, 2011
1:11 pm

Welcome back, Matty-D! Y’all don’t forget he can (and has) played first base when needed. Can play catcher, too.

Skeezix

August 31st, 2011
1:13 pm

I have been a critic of FW in the past but, in my humble opinion, I think he has hit a homerun with this move.

Justmythoughts

August 31st, 2011
1:13 pm

Welcome back, Matt Diaz!

Drop Heyward

August 31st, 2011
1:15 pm

Drop Heyward – he is pathetic…he is a loser….he is not worth having on the roster….send him to Timbuktu…..

@Blackberry Cobbler

August 31st, 2011
1:16 pm

Keep in mind that the Braves are not a “big spender” like the Yankees. Personally, I’m glad that they are not. Their record is within a couple of games of the Yankees with half of the payroll. I think that professional athletes and politicians make too much money as it is. If we are going to lobby for giving someone more money, lets make it solders, teachers, or everyday citizens.

Greg Norton

August 31st, 2011
1:16 pm

Today is the last day to get me. I am a switchitter.

Bernard

August 31st, 2011
1:17 pm

Intelligent move:-)

Scrappy

August 31st, 2011
1:18 pm

Excellent! Matt is a great person and a professional hitter. He is a clear addition to the club and its clubhouse.

Abnerish

August 31st, 2011
1:18 pm

Is every move supposed to a blockbuster deal that propels the Braves to the Worls Series?? Some deals are meant to be minor, stop-gap measures to help fix a specific issue with a team. In this case, a RH bat off the bench or a spot start against a tough lefty. Seems like a perfect oppty for Diaz to get a warm welcome against a lefty that he has handled quite well. Good, smart move. Especially since Matt Kemp wasn’t available on the waiver wire!

I assume since we got him via the waiver wire before Sept 1st that he’s eligible for post-season, right?

Steve

August 31st, 2011
1:18 pm

Sherrill is going on the DL…that leaves a spot open for Matty to join the team tonight.

TheREALJoeBravesFan

August 31st, 2011
1:19 pm

LMAO @ Greg Norton!

TheREALJoeBravesFan

August 31st, 2011
1:20 pm

Sherrill and Linebrink should just STAY on the DL…hope we just signed them to one year deals…I cringe every time I see one of them come into the game.

Ralph

August 31st, 2011
1:20 pm

To be eligible for a team’s playoff roster a player must be on any of the following: (a) the 25 man active roster, (b) the disabled list, (c) the bereavement list, or (d) the suspended list as of August 31 at midnight[citation needed]. The only exception is that a player on the 60-day disabled list may be replaced by another player from the team’s 40-man roster (as of August 31) who plays the same position (i.e. position player for position player, or pitcher for pitcher), with the approval of the commissioner of baseball.

anotherdawg

August 31st, 2011
1:21 pm

It's out of here.....

August 31st, 2011
1:24 pm

player to be named later is Heyward

jim

August 31st, 2011
1:26 pm

Linebrink will not be the PTBNL, but he could develop a stiff back and be put on he DL to make room on the 25-man, or released to make room on both the 25 and 40-man. With the bullpen rested from Irene and Moylan about to return in a few days, Linebrink has no role on this roster. Hell, recalling Gearrin after the 1st would be a better option than Linebrink. I would love to see Lugo replaced by Jamie Caroll too.

bravesgrl4life

August 31st, 2011
1:26 pm

This makes me VERY VERY VERY HAPPY!!! MattE is my hometown boy (Lakeland, FL) and I am such a huge fan!

NickB

August 31st, 2011
1:28 pm

Sherrill has actually done a great job for us when compared to most relievers in the game. It’s when you compare him to O’Flaherty Venters and Kimbrel that he looks mediocre. But those are 3 of the top 5 relievers right now….. It’s not a fair comparison. Most teams would love to have the production that Sherrill has given the Braves this season.

Oh and whomever said drop Heyward must be a Mets fan……….

jim

August 31st, 2011
1:29 pm

If someone is put on the 60 day DL now, will the off-sweason be counted as part of that time?

NickB

August 31st, 2011
1:30 pm

Apparently the crazies come out on here this time of day………….. Really drop Heyward? Drop the 21 year old phenom who is having a very common sophomore slump and drove in our only 2 runs last nite?

Yeah, that’s smart………

anobles10

August 31st, 2011
1:30 pm

no, no one gets sent down. Sherrill is going on the DL with a sore shoulder since we have Minor in the Pen for tonight’s game and since we’ll have Peter “The Thunder from Down Under” Moylan back tomorrow when rosters expand.

BravesWin

August 31st, 2011
1:30 pm

Heyward is in a typical sophomore funk. He will recover, yes, maybe as late as next year. You folks that think he’s a wash are ignorant. If he IS the “player to be named later”, then Wren is indeed a dumbass…I don’t think so.

Brava

August 31st, 2011
1:31 pm

Awesome news! Welcome back, Matty!

richbrave

August 31st, 2011
1:31 pm

I’m thinking CONSTANZA gets sent down. Too much same type of hitter with BOURNE here. With BORAS involved, we may not sign BOURNE, and decide to try ‘GEORGIE’ in ST CF next season instead. Besides we’ve got our emergency catcher again. Boo-yah. ‘Welcome back, your deams were your ticket out.’ KOTTER.

Now will we reprise OMAR as well this off-season?

6-4-3

August 31st, 2011
1:32 pm

Very good, solid move. Like it a lot.

jim

August 31st, 2011
1:32 pm

With the Phillies coming up soon, Sherrill could be useful to get an out or two against a LH bat. What is the nature of his injury — real or contrived? If contrived, why Sherrill? Why not Linebrink?

BravesWin

August 31st, 2011
1:33 pm

Besides, Heyward still owes Braves staff for all the broken windshields and dented roofs from last year’s spring games…

jim

August 31st, 2011
1:35 pm

Do we still have to make a move on the 40-man to add Diaz?

El Bravo

August 31st, 2011
1:35 pm

Nice move to get a solid bat against lefties. I reckon he will take all ABs from Constanza and Heyward against southpaws…

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