Notes: Caray glad to be back in booth

Notes: Caray glad to be back

ATLANTA -- Skip Caray isn't enjoying the fact that he's now limited to eating only salads at the ballpark. But given the alternative that he dodged earlier this month, the legendary announcer definitely feels fortunate that he still has the opportunity to serve as a Braves broadcaster.

When Caray returned to his broadcasting duties on Monday, he found a number of people around Turner Field providing a heartfelt, "It's good to see you, Skip." Each time, he'd respond, "It's good to be seen."

While being hospitalized for eight days earlier this month because of complications from congestive heart failure, Caray wondered if his days were numbered. Fortunately for the Braves and the millions of people who have heard him call Braves games for more than 30 years, doctors were able to get him back to health in time for him to work the final two weeks of the regular season.

"I wasn't close to dying," Caray said. "I thought I was."

During the three-city trip the Braves took to St. Louis, Cincinnati and Miami at the end of August, Caray's internal organs began working in an irregular manner. Kidney problems prevented him from excreting fluids, and consequently, he says he gained nearly 30 pounds in a span of about six days.

When Caray returned to Atlanta, he worked the first few games of the homestand that began this month. But after tripping over a magazine rack that had been in the same position of his home for the last eight years, the 68-year-old broadcaster definitely knew his mental capacities weren't normal.

After checking himself into Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta, he learned that he was battling congestive heart failure. His biggest scare during his hospital stay came the day his body reacted negatively to iron that doctors were trying to pump into his system.

Suddenly, Caray says he became irritable and "ready to fight people. In the midst of all this, Dr. [Charlie] Wickliffe, a cardiologist who is also a dear friend, came running in and I said, 'Am going to die?' He said, 'Unfortunately, no.' Then we both just started laughing. It was just perfect that he said that. It put me at ease."

Although he's still feeling a sense of weakness that will likely be present until he gets a chance to rest in the offseason, Caray is definitely enthused about the fact that Turner Sports has scheduled him to call TBS' final Braves broadcast on Sept. 30 with his son Chip Caray.

The elder Caray, who has been critical of the decision for TBS to end its affiliation with the Braves, had been scheduled for his final TBS broadcast on Sept. 10. Because of his illness, the company's executives re-scheduled this event that is much-anticipated by the many fans that have seen him call games on the network since 1977.

"They didn't have to do that," Caray said. "They went out of their way for me. Despite our other differences, I really appreciate that. It was a class thing for them to do."

More R-Braves arrive: With Triple-A Richmond concluding its season on Tuesday with a 7-1 loss to Sacramento in the Bricktown Showdown -- a one-game event that pitted the International and Pacific Coast League champions against each other -- the Braves were able to add three more players to their roster for the remainder of the season.

Before Wednesday's game, the Braves recalled both outfielder Brandon Jones and Joey Devine. They also purchased the contract of Jeff Bennett, a 27-year-old right-hander who will make his first career Major League start on Thursday against the Brewers.

Coming back from right elbow surgery, which sidelined him for all of the 2006 season, Bennett began the season in the Richmond bullpen. He made six starts before the end of the regular season and then posted a 1.04 ERA in the three postseason starts that he made for them.

"They say he pitched really well," said Braves manager Bobby Cox of Bennett, who has impressed with both his slider and changeup.

Jones made his Major League debut on Sunday and was back in Monday night's lineup for Atlanta. The Braves had to option him back to Richmond's roster for Tuesday's game with the knowledge that Major League Baseball had already given permission to recall him after just one day.

Lack of opportunities: When Rafael Soriano completed Tuesday night's 4-3 victory with a scoreless ninth, he registered what was just the third save recorded by a Braves pitcher in a span of 34 games. It was also just their fifth save opportunity during that span.

Among all Major League teams during this span that dated back to Aug. 12, the Braves had the fewest saves and save opportunities. The Royals, Marlins and Orioles were the only other teams to have as few as four saves.

The Mariners, Marlins and Royals were the only teams to have as few as eight save opportunities during this span.

Coming up: The Braves will begin a four-game series against the Brewers on Thursday night at 7:35 ET. They'll send Bennett to the mound to oppose Jeff Suppan (10-11, 4.73 ERA).

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.