Braves' bullpen need could still be addressed

Friday’s non-waiver trade deadline came and went without the Braves addressing one of their needs, and that was another arm for the bullpen.

The Braves have three relievers in the top six in appearances in the major leagues — Peter Moylan (58), Mike Gonzalez (53) and Eric O’Flaherty (43) — and risk seeing those arms wear down the last two months of the season.

Braves GM Frank Wren said the team could still complete a waiver deal in August, which requires the player having to clear waivers first.

There are greater risks that way because other teams can claim the player, negating the deal. But it’s possible.

“We will have to watch the waivers over the next few weeks and evaluate what is available,” Wren said. “We had discussed a few relievers, and some of those discussions may be revisited.”

A big question coming into the season was whether the back end of the bullpen would stand up with both Moylan and Rafael Soriano coming off elbow surgeries and Gonzalez into his second season since elbow reconstruction. All three have held up, and Soriano has emerged as the closer. He has 16 saves.

“Touch wood, we’ve still got a couple months to go, but up to this point, I think we’ve all proven that we’re over whatever injuries we might have had,” said Moylan, who was tied for the major league lead in appearances coming into Sunday night. “I know personally I’m not using that as an excuse anymore. I feel like I’m 100 percent.”

The Braves have other players who could help fill those needs internally as well. Buddy Carlyle is nearing his return following a June diagnosis with diabetes. He has thrown five scoreless innings on a minor league rehabilitation assignment. He is scheduled to pitch again Tuesday in Class A Rome.

The Braves should have another arm in the bullpen once Tim Hudson comes back from elbow surgery either later this month or in early September. Hudson is expected to start, but the Braves could decide to move Kenshin Kawakami to the bullpen.

Hudson suffered a setback when he was scratched from a rehabilitation outing Friday with a tight hamstring. But he thinks he could be back on the mound in Rome on Thursday or Friday. He’s scheduled to go five innings in his next start, then six innings or 90 pitches in the following one.

“Right now, I’m just going through a little speed bump with my body adjusting to getting back to game speed,” said Hudson, who’s still confident he can make an impact down the stretch. “As good as our pitching has been, and it’s been really good, I definitely think I can contribute.”

Injury updates

Yunel Escobar took his first swings in the batting cage Sunday since getting hit by a pitch Thursday in Florida. Escobar was hoping if all went well, he’d be back in the lineup Monday night in San Diego. He missed all three games of the Dodgers series.

Utility man Omar Infante will begin his minor league rehabilitation Tuesday in Rome. He’s been taking batting practice for a week as he begins his comeback from a broken hand, which cost him two months of the season.

Game time change

The Braves-Phillies game on Sunday, Aug. 16, has been moved to 8:05 p.m. to accommodate ESPN.