J-Up still out of Braves lineup, expected to play soon

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Justin Upton has missed the Braves’ first three games due to a sore muscle in his right side, but the left fielder showed no lingering effects when he took batting practice with the rest of the team before Friday night’s game against the Astros.

After being scratched from Wednesday’s Grapefruit League opener as a precautionary measure, Upton hit balls off a tee or flipped to him for two days before ramping things up Friday with full-fledged batting practice.

“If you catch it early enough you can (avoid) it getting bad, and I think we have,” said Upton, who agreed with the move to rest him a few days since the regular season was still a month away.

He wasn’t on the travel roster for Saturday’s game against the Nationals at Viera – none of the Braves’ starting outfielders were – but manager Fredi Gonzalez said after Friday’s game that there was a good chance Upton would play Sunday.

“He looks good today,” said Gonzalez, who paused Friday between hitting fungo grounders to infielders to watch Upton hit in the batting cage.

The Braves plan to take their four starting infielders to face the Nationals, with Ryan Doumit scheduled to catch. Fourth outfielder Jordan Schafer is also scheduled to make the one-hour bus ride to Viera for Saturday’s game.

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