Walden eyes Friday return; R. Johnson still not running

Reliever Jordan Walden has continued to see improvement in his bruised right hand and is hopeful he’ll be ready to return on Friday when the Braves open a weekend series against the Nationals.

“It’s getting better, a lot better actually,” Walden said. “It’s still a little bit sore, so it just takes time for the bruising to go away.”

Walden took a line drive off his pitching hand Saturday night against the Marlins. X-rays were negative but the base of his hand near his thumb has been bruised and swollen. Walden said he felt some soreness in his thumb playing catch on Tuesday but he planned to play catch against Wednesday and Thursday.

“I should be ready by Friday hopefully,” Walden said.

R. Johnson update

Reed Johnson has been taking batting practice and throwing for the past five or six days, but his sore Achilles is still keeping him from running. He’s been on the disabled list since he injured his Achilles beating out an infield hit on July 28 against the Cardinals.

“I still can’t run,” Johnson said. “So I’ve just been walking on the treadmill. I haven’t even really jogged yet so I don’t even really know what the timetable would be from there.”

Johnson is having custom orthotics made that he hopes will help the recovery process when he does feel good enough to run again. But at this point he’s guarding against rushing back too soon.

“Obviously I want to get back in there as soon as I can,” Johnson said. “But at the same time, I don’t want to get to a point where I come back a little too soon and reinjure it and all of a sudden it’s the playoffs are gone, the season’s gone.”

Johnson’s Achilles tendinitis flared up twice earlier this season and he was able to play through it. At this point, he realizes it’s not going to be 100 percent until the season’s over.

“I’m just trying to get to a point where I can at least function as far as running and running down fly balls in the outfield,” Johnson said. “Once I get there, I’m going to ask to go out and play a few games (on a minor league rehabilitation assignment.)”