Before Friday's game against the Rockies at Turner Field, Braves manager Bobby Cox managed to assemble an injury-plagued lineup. It was one that was missing Edgar Renteria, who suffered a highly consequential high right ankle sprain on Thursday and now finds himself on the 15-day disabled list.
Among the walking wounded in this series opener were Chipper Jones (sore left thumb) and Jeff Francoeur (bruised left wrist). Both played during the extra innings of Thursday's 14-inning loss to the Astros. Adding to the frustration is the fact that these extra innings might not have been necessary, if not for the bad-hop grounder that resulted in Renteria spraining his ankle.
While Renteria is on the disabled list, Yunel Escobar will serve as the everyday shortstop. Although the rookie infielder has flourished, both with his bat and his glove, while serving in a platoon role with Kelly Johnson at second base, Cox knows just how significant Renteria's absence might prove to be.
"[Esbobar] is outstanding," Cox said. "He's been great. But you never want to lose a guy like [Renteria]."
Over the past few days, Cox has been referring to Renteria as 'The Machine.' The shortstop, who will be 32 on Wednesday, is hitting .336 with a .487 slugging percentage and .392 on-base percentage this year. These marks all rank in the top three among all National League shortstops.
"He's a gamer," said Cox of Renteria, who played at least 149 games each of the past five seasons. "He's a guy you don't even think about not writing into the lineup."
Before realizing how high the sprain was on Friday, the Braves were hoping that Renteria might miss just a week. But now, Cox admits there's a chance he'll be without his standout shortstop for even longer than 15 days.
With a runner on first and nobody out in the eighth inning of Thursday's game, Renteria seemed to be in position to field Ty Wigginton's sharp grounder. But when it took a bad hop, his already ailing back gave out, leading to his ankle turning in an awkward direction.
Having already used Escobar as a pinch-hitter, Cox was forced to move Jones to shortstop for the first time since 2000 and use Willie Harris as his third baseman. Harris, who had just two previous innings of Major League experience at third base, booted the first ball hit to him and then moments later watched Mike Lamb drill a game-tying grand slam off Rafael Soriano.
Soriano's slam forced the necessity to play extra innings. While producing an inning-ending double-play ground out in the 10th inning, Jones aggravated the thumb injury that sidelined him for nearly a month in May. He walked in the 12th inning and then painfully swung while producing another double-play grounder in the 14th inning.
When asked how Jones was feeling Friday, Cox said, "Not good."
As for Francoeur, he felt fortunate not to have broken any bones when he was hit on the left wrist with a Trever Miller fastball.
"You've got to have some luck when you're playing this game," Francoeur said. "That could have done something that is going to put you out."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less