published Saturday, July 13th, 2013

Uptons follow Heyward with injuries

Atlanta Braves center fielder B.J. Upton, right, reacts after being injured in the first inning of a baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds, Friday, July 12, 2013, in Atlanta. Braves left fielder Reed Johnson looks on.
Atlanta Braves center fielder B.J. Upton, right, reacts after being injured in the first inning of a baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds, Friday, July 12, 2013, in Atlanta. Braves left fielder Reed Johnson looks on.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

ATLANTA — Braves outfielder Jason Heyward said Friday his strained right hamstring feels better and he hopes to avoid the disabled list. B.J. Upton may not be so fortunate.

Heyward left Thursday night's game against the Reds after hurting his hamstring while running the bases.

Reed Johnson started in right field Friday night. Heyward might be held out through the weekend, but he said there is improvement.

"I feel better today than I did last night," Heyward said. "There is more flexibility in my hamstring and less pain. It's not as uncomfortable, but there still is pain. It's still really sore."

Heyward said the Braves are taking a day-to-day approach to his injury.

"I've got to do what's best for the rest of the season -- what's best for me -- until they can get me back on the field healthy," he said.

The Braves' injury problems in the outfield grew when center fielder Upton left Friday's game after he strained his right adductor muscle trying to catch Todd Frazier's line drive that went for a triple in the first inning. And his younger brother Justin Upton, the left fielder, left in the seventh with a strained calf muscle.

During the game, general manager Frank Wren announced that outfielder Jordan Schafer, on the disabled list with a right ankle contusion, has a stress fracture in the ankle.

Wren said an MRI on Friday revealed the stress fracture after two X-rays came back negative for any breaks. Wren said the normal recovery period for the injury is six weeks "and he's two to three weeks into it."

Wren said B.J. Upton's injury could force the team to make a roster move to add outfield depth.

Manager Fredi Gonzalez said the All-Star break could help Heyward avoid the 15-day DL "if he keeps getting better." If Heyward is held out this weekend, he would have a full week off before the Braves resume play after the break at the Chicago White Sox on July 19.

"Going into it, I would say the smarter thing to do would probably be not play," Heyward said of the weekend games against the Reds.

"As of now, the best thing to do would be cautious. Knowing these four days off are coming with the All-Star break, it would be good to get this time to rest and come back and not worry about further hurting myself and not coming back too soon."

Gonzalez said Heyward's improvement is a good sign it is not a "full-blown" hamstring injury.

Gonzalez said the Braves hope catcher-outfielder Evan Gattis can return from his right oblique injury after the All-Star break. Gattis was scheduled to begin a three-game rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Gwinnett on Friday.

Gattis took batting practice with the Braves on Wednesday and Thursday and impressed Gonzalez.

"From what I've seen these last two days, the weekend will be enough," Gonzalez said. "If everything goes well, he should join the club on Friday [in Chicago]."

Pitcher Brandon Beachy also is moving closer to his return. Beachy, recovering from elbow ligament-replacement surgery in June 2012, is scheduled to pitch for Gwinnett on Sunday.

Beachy was close to returning to the Braves when he experienced discomfort in the elbow and was pulled off his rehabilitation schedule on June 14.

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