After missing a start and having another one pushed back for his prominent role in the June 11 melee between the Dodgers and D-backs, Ian Kennedy will return to the mound Saturday in Atlanta, the first day he is eligible to pitch again.
Major League Baseball issued a 10-game suspension for Kennedy, whose pitch that hit Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke set off a benches-clearing incident. Kennedy initially said he would appeal the ban, but ultimately decided to serve it, so the D-backs could project out their rotation.
The 28-year-old threw multiple bullpen sessions and a 35-pitch simulated game in the interim, and he hopes he won't be too rusty when the D-backs and Braves meet for the second game of a three-game series between first-place teams.
"You can't simulate a real game, you just do the best you can," Kennedy said. "You can't get the same adrenaline, you just try to go out there and throw a lot of pitches and just basically try to use everything."
After a rough start to the season, Kennedy had been throwing well at the time of his suspension. He allowed just two runs in 6 1/3 innings in the game vs. the Dodgers, then while appealing the ban, he limited the Padres to one run in 6 innings on June 16.
Even though it was tough to watch from the sidelines, Kennedy thinks the week and a half off might pay off in the long run, especially with the D-backs making a playoff push.
"Especially this time of year, where I feel like for me, the last three years usually in June and July, that's the time where I think my arm starts to get more [tired]," Kennedy said. "I'm hoping it does benefit me later in the season, but I'd much rather pitch."
Kennedy beat the Braves back on May 15, holding Atlanta to three runs (two earned) over five innings. Playing against his former teammate, Justin Upton, the right-hander got the outfielder to ground out once in the first inning, then walked him twice later in the game.
Opposing Kennedy for the Braves will be Tim Hudson. The 37-year-old lost to Kennedy in that May 15 game, surrendering five runs on eight hits over five frames.
In his last start, Hudson took a hard-luck loss, giving up just two runs in six innings as Atlanta was shut out by the Brewers.
"That's baseball," Hudson said after the game. "Unfortunately, sometimes you lose games like that. You have to go out there and keep plugging along, and hopefully the tide starts turning a little bit."
Braves: Gattis' progress slowed
Evan Gattis has yet to be cleared for baseball activities 10 days into his stint on the disabled list with a right oblique strain.
"It's a balancing act between trying to push it and trying to let it heal at the same time, so I'm just going through my treatment," Gattis said.
The 26-year-old rookie felt the muscle grab when he swung awkwardly at a slider in the seventh inning of the Braves' game against the Mets on June 17. Gattis finished the game behind the plate without getting another at-bat. He will be eligible to be activated from the 15-day DL on Wednesday, but the current pace of his healing process indicates that target may be a touch optimistic.
The club will wait until Gattis is free from any soreness before sending him on a rehab assignment.
D-backs: Putz likely to return Saturday
The D-backs expect to activate closer J.J. Putz from the disabled list Saturday.
Putz pitched in back-to-back games for Triple-A Reno on Monday and Tuesday. The right-hander was placed on the DL on May 8 with a strained elbow.
Heath Bell has closed in Putz's absence, going 13-for-15 in save opportunities.
D-backs manager Kirk Gibson was asked Friday if Putz would immediately reclaim his closer's job.
"I haven't said that," Gibson said. "I've got to talk to J.J. about it."
• Braves legend Chipper Jones had his No. 10 jersey retired on Friday before the series opener at Turner Field.
• The D-backs are 9-2 in extra-inning games. The nine wins lead the Majors.
Tyler Emerick is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.