7/13/2013 12:20 A.M. ET
No surprises as deadline to sign Draft picks passes
By Eric Single / MLB.com
ATLANTA -- Friday's 5 p.m. ET deadline for signing First-Year Player Draftees passed without incident for the Braves, who had already inked their top picks with plenty of time to spare.
Twenty-six of Atlanta's first 27 selections in the Draft signed with the team, all well before the July 12 deadline. First baseman Tyler Kuresa, the Braves' 14th-round selection out of UC Santa Barbara with two more years of college eligibility remaining, was the lone exception.
The Braves locked in their first-round pick when they signed Oklahoma State right-hander Jason Hursh, the 31st overall selection in the draft, to a $1.7 million deal on June 19. By that point, the team had already locked in four of their first 10 selections, including outfielder Kyle Wren, the son of Braves general manager Frank Wren, and right-hander Steve Janas, a local product out of Kennesaw State.
Shortstop Reed Harper, whose brother, Ryne, was a 2011 Braves draftee and pitches for Double-A Mississippi, also signed after being selected in the 25th round. The team was not able to hold onto all of their draft picks with Braves bloodlines, however: outfielder Jacob Heyward (38th round), the younger brother of Jason, had announced before the Draft that he would uphold his commitment to play for the University of Miami.
Uptons leave game with injuries; Constanza called up
ATLANTA -- One night after Jason Heyward left with a strained right hamstring, the Braves lost the rest of their Opening Day outfield to a pair of muscle strains that have pushed the Braves' depth to its outer limits.
First, center fielder B.J. Upton left Friday night's 4-2 loss to the Reds in the first inning with a right adductor muscle strain after diving for a ball. Then in the seventh inning, Justin Upton pulled up halfway to first running out a ground ball and exited the game with a left calf strain.
Manager Fredi Gonzalez's midgame shuffling left the Braves to finish out the game with an outfield no one could have predicted at the start of the season: Joey Terdoslavich in left, Tyler Pastornicky in center and Reed Johnson in right.
Less than an hour after the game, the Braves recalled Jose Constanza from Triple-A Gwinnett to give the Braves another healthy outfielder. The diminutive but speedy Constanza appeared in 37 Major League games in 2012 and is hitting .260 with 13 RBIs and 17 stolen bases in 63 games with Gwinnett this year.
Upton came in on a dead run to make a play on a sharp line drive off the bat of Todd Frazier, diving only to have the ball skip off the end of his glove, off his left leg and into right-center. Upton's right knee appeared to stick in the ground on the dive, which twisted the rest of his body awkwardly as he fell. He remained down for several minutes as manager Fredi Gonzalez and assistant athletic trainer Jim Lovell came out to center field, but he was able to walk off under his own power.
"With the backdrop, it's tough to see sometimes, and when I kind of dove for [the ball], it was a lot higher than I thought it was, and I think if I could've seen it a little bit better, we probably wouldn't be dealing with this situation right now," Upton said.
To replace B.J. Upton, Johnson moved from right to center field, Justin Upton moved from left to right and Terdoslavich came in to play left field, the rookie's first Major League appearance in the field. When Justin Upton walked gingerly back to the dugout after grounding out to end the seventh, Pastornicky entered the game to play center field.
"My calf kind of locked up on me, and that was kind of it halfway down the line," Upton said. "It's calmed down, it's a little sore, and we're kind of going to play it by ear tomorrow."
The Braves have not yet announced a corresponding roster move for the addition of Constanza, as all three injured outfielders will be re-evaluated tomorrow. The four days of rest offered by the All-Star break could make the team wary of deactivating any of the three who may be back to 100 percent when the Braves play next Friday in Chicago.
"Unfortunately it goes that way sometimes, but we're a good enough ballclub to get things done, and luckily we have the All-Star break coming up to get some guys some rest," B.J. Upton said.
"It's been a little bit rough, but as usual, we'll make it through," Justin Upton said. "Our guys off the bench are going to do what they do, and we'll be fine."
Schafer out at least an extra month with foot injury
ATLANTA -- Over time, the ankle injury outfielder Jordan Schafer sustained when he fouled a ball off his foot on June 26 in Kansas City became something more unusual and more serious. The Braves announced on Friday night that an MRI revealed Schafer had an intraosseous stress fracture in his right foot and would need at least four more weeks to recover.
"It's a soft tissue injury that you treat over 7-10 days and see if it's going to get better," said Braves general manager Frank Wren. "He was X-rayed that day, there was no fracture revealed. After seven days, he still wasn't getting a lot better. It was X-rayed again -- still no fracture. And then after he started doing more, there were some things he could do and some things he couldn't. He started having more pain, so we took it to the next step and had the MRI done."
Wren said Schafer was two weeks into what is roughly a six-week recovery process, and that the outfielder would do more non-load-bearing activity in his rehab, such as working on the underwater treadmill.
The announcement came on the heels of the Braves losing starting outfielders to injury on consecutive nights: Jason Heyward is day to day with a strained right hamstring he sustained running the bases on Thursday, and B.J. Upton left Friday night's game in the top of the first inning with a right adductor muscle strain after diving for a ball in the outfield.
Wren said the Braves planned to take inventory after the game and discuss potential moves to restock their outfield. After B.J. Upton's exit, it consisted of rookie Joey Terdoslavich, utility man Reed Johnson and Justin Upton, who exited the game in the seventh inning with a calf injury.
"We'll talk after the game and see where we are once we get a better sense of everything," Wren said. "We'll definitely get together after the game and figure it out."
Wren added that the two pinch-hit appearances Schafer made in the team's home series against the Marlins less than a week after sustaining the initial injury did not worsen his ankle's condition.
"If we'd MRI'd it at time of the injury, this fracture would not have shown up," Wren said. "It's a type that over time, you get a better sense of it. It's just one of those strange situations."
Heyward likely to avoid DL after hamstring injury
ATLANTA -- Braves right fielder Jason Heyward remains day to day in his return from a strained right hamstring that forced his early exit from Thursday's game against the Reds.
"I felt better today than I did last night," Heyward said on Friday afternoon. "More flexibility in my hamstring, less pain. It's not as uncomfortable, but there still is pain. I'm still really sore. Still day to day, and that's how we're going to take it and see how I feel each day."
Heyward felt pain in his right hamstring running from second to third in the bottom of the second inning on Thursday, staying down on the ground after sliding into the bag before walking off the field on his own power, accompanied by manager Fredi Gonzalez and team trainer Jeff Porter. Heyward said after Thursday's game that he did not believe the injury was serious, and the encouraging overnight report made it more likely that the 23-year-old right fielder would be able to avoid a trip to the disabled list.
"That's a good sign," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "We're going to call it just day to day, but if we could just keep improving every single day and get him through the weekend, I think we'll be in good shape when we come back from the All-Star break."
With four days of rest built into the upcoming schedule thanks to the break, Heyward planned to play it safe in monitoring his injury over the rest of the Reds series. Given the lingering soreness 24 hours later, that cautious mindset would make a return to the lineup before the break unlikely.
"Going into it, I would say the smarter thing to do would probably be not play, but that's just what I know right now," Heyward said. "We'll see tomorrow, if I feel great tomorrow, we'll see about the next day, but right now, the best thing to do is be cautious. Knowing that there's four days coming up off with the All-Star break, it'd be good to get this time to earn a rest and come back not worrying about further hurting myself coming back too soon."
Reed Johnson earned the start in right field for Friday night's game and will serve as the Braves' primary replacement for Heyward until he can return to the lineup. After entering the game in place of Heyward in the second inning on Thursday, Johnson delivered a go-ahead RBI triple in his first at-bat as part of a three-run fourth inning in the Braves' 6-5 win.
"Let's just go out and use the guys that we have here," Gonzalez said. "If anything goes wrong with the guys that are playing, Reed or Justin [Upton] or B.J., you can run [Tyler] Pastornicky out there, you can run [Joey] Terdoslavich out there. We have some options."
With Braves, Janish faces club that drafted him
ATLANTA -- Infielder Paul Janish hardly noticed that his entrance as a ninth-inning defensive replacement in Thursday night's game against the Reds marked his first Major League appearance against the team with which he spent the first eight years of his professional career.
A fifth-round selection by Cincinnati in the 2004 First-Year Player Draft, Janish played parts of four seasons with the Reds before being traded to Atlanta on July 14, 2012.
"Some of my best friends in baseball are over there, so it wasn't too weird," Janish said. "It was good to see everybody, go say hello and all that stuff."
Janish has maintained a good relationship with the Cincinnati coaching staff and Reds regulars such as Joey Votto and Jay Bruce, but he also recalled crossing paths with outfielder Chris Heisey and catcher Corky Miller within the Reds' Minor League system.
"I definitely went out there early the last couple of days to try to catch up, especially with [manager] Dusty [Baker] and some of the coaches," Janish said. "It's good to see everybody, no doubt about it."
• Evan Gattis began his rehab assignment with Triple-A Gwinnett as the designated hitter in Friday night's game at Durham, the first of what the Braves hope will only be three games in the Minor Leagues before the rookie catcher can rejoin the team following the All-Star break.
"Medically, I think the weekend will be good enough," Gonzalez said. "I think if he needs more at-bats just because of timing issues or you don't feel right, then we could probably find a place for him to play at the lower levels."
• Chris Johnson was back in the lineup at full strength for Friday's game after playing through a minor muscle spasm in his back, which flared up after a throw he made to retire Zack Cozart in the third inning on Thursday night.
Eric Single is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.