Collision draws ire of Braves' skipper

Collision draws ire of Braves' skipper

ATLANTA -- Braves manager Bobby Cox wasn't able to put Yunel Escobar at the top of his lineup card for Wednesday night's game against the Mets. If he's without his shortstop for a few more days, there's a chance Mets right fielder Ryan Church will draw even more of his ire.

Church's aggressive attempt to break up the double play that concluded the Braves' doubleheader sweep at Turner Field on Tuesday led to him suffering his second head injury in the past three months.

At the same time, Escobar suffered a badly bruised right leg that was causing him to continue limping badly when he arrived at Turner Field late on Wednesday afternoon.

"Not good," Escobar responded after being asked how he felt.

While Cox is hopeful that Escobar will return on Thursday, the 26-year-old Cuban shortstop wasn't as confident that he'd be healthy enough to play that soon.

"It's not up to me," Escobar said, with Brayan Pena serving as an interpreter. "It depends on the way my knee feels. I've put a lot of ice on it and I feel better every time that I do that."

Escobar's discomfort is located just below his right knee, which is where he made contact with Church's forehead.

With his team trailing by four runs, Church slid late, causing Escobar to make an acrobatic leap while making the throw. As the Mets right fielder moved toward the bag, his head collided with the Braves shortstop's leg.

Church's head hit the dirt and he remained motionless with his face on the ground for about three minutes. While concerned about his health, Cox was among the Braves who thought this slide was dirty.

"The slide was extremely late," Cox said. "You have to slide before you get to the bag, not after you get even with it. I don't know if he got his stride messed up or what."

Escobar wasn't as upset about the ninth-inning slide that put an odd end to the long doubleheader.

"I'm used to it," Escobar said. "Back in my land [Cuba], that's the way people would slide. I was expecting him to slide hard because he did it before. It's just baseball. Four innings earlier, while trying to prevent a double play, Church performed an early pop-up slide. As he came up in front of second base, he raised his arm in attempt to alter Escobar's throw.

"I didn't think much about that one, it was a little late," Cox said in reference to this slide which caused Escobar to feel some discomfort in his left quadriceps muscle.

Without Escobar, who has seven hits in his past 13 at-bats, the Braves used Omar Infante as their starting shortstop and leadoff hitter on Wednesday.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.