Denver — Even if Braves pitcher Javier Vazquez had been named to the All-Star team, a strained lower-abdominal muscle would have prevented him from playing in the game.
The Atlanta right-hander was diagnosed with the injury after flying home from Chicago on Wednesday for an MRI. He's been scratched from a scheduled start Sunday against Colorado in the last game before the All-Star break, but the Braves think he might avoid a stint on the disabled list.
"The MRI was very helpful to give us an indication that it's not a serious thing," general manager Frank Wren said before Thursday night's series opener against the Rockies in Denver.
Vazquez continued his superb first half with seven innings of five-hit ball in a 2-1 win against the Cubs on Tuesday, then flew back to Atlanta after waking Wednesday with more soreness in an area that's been a source of nagging discomfort for several starts.
The Braves and Vazquez had not said anything about the injury until Thursday, and it certainly wasn't evident in his performance. He had a 1.96 ERA in his past eight starts, with 58 strikeouts and eight walks in 55 innings.
He only had a 2-3 record in that span due to poor run support, which has been the story of the first half of the season for Vazquez and fellow Braves starter Jair Jurrjens, who both have sub-.500 records and sub-3.00 ERAs that rank among the National League leaders.
Wren said the Braves hope Vazquez can avoid a stint on the disabled list by resting over the All-Star break and perhaps moving his next turn to the back of the rotation after the break.
He's been one of the NL's best starters this season despite a 6-7 record. Vazquez ranks second in the league in strikeouts (136) and opponents' on-base percentage (.270), sixth in ERA (2.95), and seventh in opponents' average (.229) and opponents' slugging percentage (.342).
Vazquez did not accompany the Braves to Denver for the four-game series against the Rockies that began Thursday.
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