Braves play waiting game with Escobar

Braves play waiting game with Escobar

SAN FRANCISCO -- With Omar Infante sidelined until after the All-Star break, the Braves aren't in a position where they could comfortably place Yunel Escobar on the 15-day disabled list.

Escobar's strained right hip flexor has caused him to miss five straight starts and the Braves have been encouraged that he's at least shown some improvement. But if he's not healthy enough to return to action in a few days, they may have to take a longer look at their limited options at the shortstop position.

While Escobar has been able to take batting practice the past three days, the Braves have seen him show some hesitance with his swings. In addition, he still hasn't shown the kind of lateral movement that would suggest he'd be able to provide satisfactory agility while playing shortstop.

"He's getting better," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "But honestly, I don't know when he can go. We can go a few more days without him."

With Escobar unavailable, the right-handed lineup the Braves utilized against Randy Johnson and the Giants on Wednesday night at AT&T Park featured Diory Hernandez as the leadoff hitter. Hernandez, who was promoted from Triple-A Gwinnett last week, entered the game with three hits in his first 16 career at-bats.

Infante, who broke his left hand last week, began this season as a super-utility player who was regarded as the primary backup option at shortstop. If the Braves are in a pinch, they could utilize Martin Prado at the shortstop position.

But if Escobar is forced to go on the disabled list, the Braves have limited resources to promote from their Minor League system.

Since Hernandez was promoted, Gwinnett has been utilizing Brooks Conrad at the shortstop position. Before this past week, the only 18 games he'd played at that position occurred last year, when he was with Oakland's Triple-A affiliate in Sacramento.

Conrad isn't currently on the 40-man roster.

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