Braves dealing with early-season injuries

Braves dealing with early-season injuries

WASHINGTON -- A number of nagging, early-season injuries are making life tougher for manager Bobby Cox when he tries to fill out the lineup card.

Outfielder Garret Anderson sat out Monday's series opener against the Nationals after leaving Sunday's game against the Pirates with tightness in his left quadriceps muscle. Though he wasn't in the lineup, he is expected to be available.

Catcher Brian McCann was also out of the lineup again on Monday with problems relating to blurred vision in his left eye. He's scheduled to see an eye doctor in Washington on Tuesday at 8 a.m. ET.

On the positive side, shortstop Yunel Escobar returned to the starting lineup, batting second, on Monday after being out since Thursday.

The 26-year-old Escobar left during the fifth inning of Thursday's loss to Florida after straining an abdominal muscle and missing the weekend series against the Pirates.

Escobar said on Monday afternoon that he is "85 percent," and Cox also felt that the shortstop was ready to return.

"He looked 100 percent yesterday," Cox said. "He wanted to play two days ago, but we didn't play him yesterday because we thought one more day [wouldn't hurt]."

Escobar was off to a good start before the injury, posting a .343 average in his first nine games. He had one homer and five RBIs with just three strikeouts in 35 at-bats.

Center fielder Jordan Schafer has been battling a hand/wrist problem that's been bothering him throughout the first part of the season. He said that it hasn't slowed him and is more concerned about being able to make the right adjustments at this level.

Schafer was also in the lineup again for Monday's game, batting seventh, and hoping to build upon his three-hit game on Sunday. He became just the 99th player in Major League history to homer on his first at-bat earlier this month, against the Phillies, and added a second homer later in the series.

But Schafer said that those two homers got him away from what he does best -- making contact and getting on base -- and that's why he's been slumping lately. He is hoping that he's back on track.

"I need to stay within myself and know what my game is and try to hit the ball with line drives the other way and up the middle," Schafer said. "If home runs come, they come."

Jeff Seidel is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.