Infection will sideline Diaz for an extended period
Yunel Escobar was back in the Braves lineup on Saturday night. But it could be at least another three weeks before manager Bobby Cox is able to utilize Matt Diaz again.
Diaz has spent the past three weeks bothered by the same right thumb infection that sidelined him during the final weeks of last season. When he began bleeding and showing signs of an infection after a pinch-hit at-bat on Friday night, the Braves determined it was time for him to be further evaluated.
Noted hand specialist Dr. Gary Lourie will remove a foreign substance from Diaz’s right thumb during a surgical procedure on Wednesday. While the recovery time is undetermined, Cox knows it will be June before the veteran outfielder is playing again.
“It will be weeks,” Cox said. “They have to go in there pretty deep.”
With Diaz unavailable, Eric Hinske will likely see a lot more playing time in left field. Brent Clevelan has been promoted from Triple-A Gwinnett to at least temporarily serve as an extra outfielder.
Clevlen, who hit .259 with a homer and 14 RBIs in 26 games with Triple-A Gwinnett this year, was a high school teammate of former Braves second baseman Kelly Johnson, who is in town this weekend with his D-backs teammates.
The Braves told Clevlen that he was going to the Majors at about 2:30 p.m. ET on Saturday and approximately one hour later he was getting ready for his new assignment at Turner Field. He made the 30-minute drive to downtown Atlanta in a car he borrowed from right-handed reliever Stephen Marek, a childhood friend who was recently promoted to the Gwinnett roster.
To make room for Escobar, the Braves sent shortstop Brandon Hicks back to Gwinnett. Hicks will now spend the next few weeks and months proving that he can develop a swing that would enable him to prove how valuable he can be from a defensive standpoint at the Major League level.
BRAVES LINEUP vs. D-backs 5/15/2010