7/13/2013 3:54 P.M. ET
New faces in Braves outfield due to injuries
By Eric Single / MLB.com
ATLANTA -- The Braves were in the awkward position on Saturday of having three starting outfielders who were injured, but not injured enough to justify a trip to the disabled list that would rule them out of a handful of games following the All-Star break.
Thanks to the upcoming four-day break, the team was able to get creative with its lineup shuffling, handing two outfielders their first starts of the season on Saturday and sending down one of the club's most productive long relievers for what could be just a brief stint in the Minors.
"I think that we're lucky that the All-Star break is around the corner where you can use those four days," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "If we were in the middle of a 19-day stretch or something like that, it would be a lot tougher to deal with the injuries, but with the four days of the All-Star break, I think it comes at the right time, if there is such a thing. I think if it's in the middle of a long stretch, it would be a no-brainer to say 'We're going to have to DL somebody.'"
Instead of sending anyone to the disabled list, the Braves optioned Alex Wood to Triple-A Gwinnett to make room for outfielder Jose Constanza, who the Braves tabbed to lead off and play left field in Saturday's game against the Reds. Constanza was making his first start of the 2013 season after hitting .250 with five steals in 86 plate appearances in 2012.
"He always seems like he energizes you," Gonzalez said of Constanza.
Wood has made one start and 15 appearances out of the bullpen since getting his first big league callup on May 30. On Friday night, the rookie left-hander threw 57 pitches and retired 10 straight batters over 3 2/3 innings in relief of Kris Medlen, making it unlikely he would be available for the team's remaining two games before the break.
"Today, if we get a crazy game, Paul Maholm, he could go to the bullpen and give us some length at the end of the game if we play one of those crazy 15- or 16-inning games or we lose a starter in the second, that kind of stuff," Gonzalez said. "He pitched Wednesday, so he's had a couple of days off."
Rookie Joey Terdoslavich earned his first Major League start in right field on Saturday after playing the field for the first time in his big league career on Friday night when he took over in left after B.J. Upton exited with an injury. Terdoslavich used his first action of the game, a double by Zack Cozart in the fourth inning, to settle in on defense.
"I got off on it and threw it to [Andrelton] Simmons," Terdoslavich said on Saturday. "That's like the one that really got me going in the game and started getting me a little more comfortable."
One day later, Terdoslavich had been moved to the opposite corner outfield position, just one of the players ready to be shuffled around once again as the Braves continued to navigate their recent rash of injuries.
Heyward, Uptons won't return before All-Star break
ATLANTA -- While Jason Heyward, B.J. Upton and Justin Upton won't see the field until after the All-Star break, some encouraging initial reports on Saturday morning indicated that the Braves could have at least one member of their ailing Opening Day outfield back in the lineup by the time the team opens its first series after the break in Chicago on Friday.
Heyward appears to be the farthest along of the three after leaving Thursday's game in the second inning with a strained right hamstring he sustained running the bases.
"I think Jason's good," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "From what I've heard the last couple days, if we hold him off this weekend, I think he's going to be fine because he's responding to treatment."
B.J. Upton was encouraged by the overnight progress of his strained right adductor muscle, which he suffered diving for a sharply hit line drive in the first inning of Friday's 4-2 loss. However, it was still too early to nail down a timetable for the centerfielder's return.
"I definitely thought it would be a lot worse, especially after going home last night and kind of giving it time to settle down," Upton said. "It didn't really feel that great, so I kind of didn't know what to expect this morning. But I woke up this morning and actually kind of felt better than it did last night."
The biggest remaining unknown was the status of Justin Upton, who met with the media Friday night after leaving in the seventh inning with a left calf strain but was not available before the game on Saturday. Upton pulled up halfway down the line running out a ground ball and was replaced in the field the next half inning.
"That's the one that's trickiest because you don't know what you have until you really check it out." Gonzalez said. "Those calves can be nagging, you know?"
After both Uptons were re-evaluated by team doctors before Saturday's game, the Braves optioned reliever Alex Wood to Triple-A Gwinnett to make room on the roster for outfielder Jose Constanza, a move that indicated neither Upton was injured enough for a disabled-list stint.
"During the course of the game, you're thinking 'OK, who do we want out there and where?' That kind of stuff," Gonzalez said. "You just wait for it and know that you're going to survive it and know that you have to get through it and just keep going."
Eric Single is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.