ATLANTA -- Like their fans, the Braves would like to have a better idea about when they can put Martin Prado's valuable bat back in their lineup. But as their left fielder deals with a staph infection on his right leg, there's a lot of uncertainty.
"He's got to wait for that thing to heal completely before he can do anything," manager Fredi Gonzalez said Saturday morning.
After spending nearly a week essentially confined to his house and the doctor's office, Prado has at least been able to come to Turner Field the past two days to allow members of the Braves' medical staff to clean the area around the staph infection, which developed from a right calf scrape he gained from sliding.
The Braves treated the scrape on June 7 and cleared Prado to play that evening against the Marlins. An errant throw to second base struck his left knee during the ninth inning and sidelined him the next two days. The staph infection was found June 9 and he returned to Atlanta the next day to undergo a procedure.
Once the cut closes and there is no risk of worsening the infection, Prado will be cleared to begin baseball activities again. There is certainly a chance he will not return before the end of this month.
Ramirez recalled; McLouth likely back Sunday
ATLANTA -- Running out of options in their search to ignite a slumbering offense, the Braves recalled Wilkin Ramirez from Triple-A Gwinnett and batted him fifth against Rangers left-handed starter Matt Harrison on Saturday.
Ramirez's stint as Atlanta's starting left fielder will likely end Sunday, when Nate McLouth is expected to be activated from the disabled list. McLouth is expected to end his Minor League rehab assignment with two more at-bats for Gwinnett on Saturday night. He has been sidelined since straining his right oblique muscle May 22.
"He feels good," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "He's running good. He's going to get two at-bats today and I expect him to be with us [Sunday] unless something really, really crazy happens."
Until Martin Prado returns from a staph infection in a couple of weeks, Atlanta will use Jordan Schafer in center field and McLouth in left. It is somewhat ironic that Schafer is the man who may have ended McLouth's days as the Braves' starting center fielder.
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When McLouth is activated, the Braves will likely keep Ramirez as an extra outfielder. He was hitting .238 with seven homers, eight stolen bases and a .446 slugging percentage for Gwinnett.
The Braves created a roster spot for Ramirez by optioning righty prospect Randall Delgado to Double-A Mississippi. Delgado made his Major League debut, starting in place of the injured Tommy Hanson on Friday night.
Gonzalez said the club "might tinker the roster" to make room for McLouth. This could lead them to designating Joe Mather for assignment. Mather is hitting .219 and he entered Saturday with just one hit in his previous 22 at-bats.
Gonzalez reflects on Delgado's MLB debut
ATLANTA -- The more Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez reflects on right-handed prospect Randall Delgado's Major League debut Friday against the Rangers, the more impressed he gets.
"He's solid. He's got a nice future ahead of him," Gonzalez said. "I like the arm, I like the command. I was so impressed with him. He threw the ball over the plate."
Delgado was called up for a spot start after Tommy Hanson was placed on the disabled list with rotator cuff inflammation. Delgado faced a daunting task against Texas' high-powered offense, but limited the Rangers to three earned runs in four innings with two strikeouts.
"He fields his position, he holds runners, looks like he swings the bat OK," Gonzalez said. "And here he is 21 years old. I was really impressed."
Delgado had limited the Rangers to just one run as he entered the fifth before Josh Hamilton, last season's American League MVP, took the right-hander deep on an 0-1 changeup.
Delgado, who will pitch in the Southern League All-Star Game on Monday, learned of his callup while warming up for a scheduled start Thursday for Double-A Mississippi. But his hectic 24 hours weren't over yet, as he was late to Turner Field because his plane had blown a tire before takeoff.
"He's delayed, doesn't get in until 2:30 or 3 o'clock]," Gonzalez said. "I thought the kid did a terrific job. That's a good lineup. That's a [heck] of a lineup."
Delgado, who's listed as the Braves' No. 3 prospect by MLB.com, got the start partly due to some good timing. Julio Teheran -- who has made two spot starts for the Braves this season -- had pitched two days earlier, while Erik Cordier had thrown a heavy bullpen session Thursday.
Atlanta's bevy of options at the Minor League level is something Gonzalez is well aware of.
"I'm really excited about the whole group of kids that have come up," Gonzalez said. "I don't know how many organizations can spot start [two] kids like that. ... You feel good. You feel good that they've handled themselves really well on the mound [at a] very young [age]."
Braves third baseman Chipper Jones was once again out of the lineup Saturday against the Rangers with a strained adductor muscle. Gonzalez had said on Friday that he might be available to pinch-hit or be a defensive substitution, but reneged on that a day later. Atlanta's skipper now hopes to have Jones back Sunday or Monday.
The Braves will continue Interleague Play at Turner Field this week as they welcome the Blue Jays into town. The Braves will face pitcher Jo-Jo Reyes on Wednesday for the first time since trading him to Toronto in the Alex Gonzalez deal.