HOUSTON — Left fielder Martin Prado landed on the 15-day disabled list Friday for a staph infection in his right calf, the latest in a string of Braves injuries that has put their entire Opening Day outfield on the DL.
Prado returned to Atlanta and had the infection cleaned out in a surgical procedure by Dr. Gary Lourie on Friday.
“They sliced him, and he’s got to heal from the inside out,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “They pumped him with antibiotics. ... I think it was caused by a [bruise], from a slide.”
Prado joined right fielder Jason Heyward (shoulder) and center fielder Nate McLouth (oblique) on the DL, along with pitchers Brandon Beachy (oblique), Kris Medlen (elbow surgery) and Peter Moylan (back surgery).
Infielder Brandon Hicks was recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett to fill Prado’s roster spot.
The announcement came as a surprise to most, since the Braves had mentioned nothing about Prado’s staph infection after it was discovered Tuesday when the Braves were in Florida.
He was sidelined Wednesday and Thursday by a sore left knee from an unrelated incident, after being hit by a throw while stealing a base Tuesday.
“We knew it was there. It was an infection, and we were trying to treat it,” Gonzalez said of the right-calf situation that the Braves kept private. “He was out of the lineup for the contusion where the ball hit him.”
Prado was cleared to play Tuesday after the staph infection was diagnosed. Then he got hit on the knee of his other leg by a throw as he stole second base in the ninth inning Tuesday night.
He missed two games with what the Braves termed a contusion of the left knee, which was swollen when he woke Wednesday. Prado said Thursday that he expected to return to the lineup Saturday or Sunday.
At that time, he thought his infected calf had improved. He told team officials Thursday that the calf felt better, but later a Marlins doctor determined that the infection had worsened.
“The doctor looked at it and said, ‘Let’s not let it get to the next level,’” Gonzalez said. “Those things, you always err on the side of caution.”
The wound is left open to heal after such a procedure so that new tissue will form from the bottom of the wound.
Braves head trainer Jeff Porter said it was the first time a Braves player had a staff infection severe enough to require such a procedure. The team didn’t say said how long Prado was expected to be sidelined, but typically such wounds take two to three weeks to heal.
Veteran utility man Eric Hinske was in the lineup Friday in left field and rookie Matt Young was in right field.
The Braves got encouraging news Friday when Heyward hit off a tee without discomfort in his right shoulder.
He has been rehabbing from inflammation of the labrum and working out at the team’s spring-training site in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., but Friday was the first time he swung a bat in nearly three weeks.
The Braves will wait to see how he feels Saturday before ramping up his rehab schedule. Within a few days he could take batting practice and hit in extended-spring training games in Florida, after which he would likely begin a brief minor-league rehab assignment.
McLouth (strained oblique) could return sooner. McLouth has hit off a tee this week, and will start hitting against live pitching.
One pitcher he likely will face is Beachy, also recovering from a strained oblique.
Beachy will throw in batting-practice sessions and extended-spring training games before beginning a rehab assignment. He could return to the Braves’ rotation later this month.
Chipper at site of injury
Chipper Jones was in Houston on Friday for his first game at Minute Maid Park since a season-ending knee injury in August.
“My knee just hurts walking in the building,” he said, smiling during batting practice.
Jones, 39, tore the ACL in his left knee Aug. 10 after making a splendid jump-and-throw play. He fielded a Hunter Pence grounder near the third-base line, planted his left foot and leaped to make a cross-the-body throw to first base. He was hurt when he jumped.
After he hobbled off the field that night, Jones said the first thing he thought of was his worried parents seated behind the Braves’ dugout. He texted his mom, Lynne, from the clubhouse while he was being examined.
Lynne and Larry Jones will be at all four games this weekend, he said. As usual when Jones plays in Houston, his parents made the six-hour drive from his ranch in southwest Texas, where they spend much of the year.
His injury was considered career-threatening, but Jones made it through the grueling surgery rehab and was back for the start of spring training.
In 35 games at Minute Maid Park, he had a .387 average with 18 doubles, seven homers and 28 RBIs.
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