Jordan Schafer’s injured finger isn’t healing as quickly as planned, and there’s a chance the Braves center fielder will need a stint on the 15-day disabled list.
He was a late scratch from the lineup Tuesday against Pittsburgh after the finger was too sore during batting practice. Nate McLouth moved back to center field from left field and Eric Hinske started in left.
“I’m not sure what we’re going to do,” Schafer said of the DL possibility. “Obviously we need a full bench, so…”
Schafer came on as a defensive replacement in center field in the top of the ninth inning Tuesday and was hit by a pitch in the same hand in the 11th inning. The Braves were running out of players and he stayed in the game.
Schafer has missed five starts since jamming the finger on a head-first slide while stealing second base Thursday at Colorado. X-rays this week showed a chip fracture.
He and the Braves originally thought he’d only miss a game or two, and on Monday they decided not to disable him after he tested the finger throwing and hitting.
Since he was used to pinch-hit Monday – he struck out in the seventh inning – any DL stint could not be made retroactive prior to that.
Three hours before Tuesday’s game, manager Fredi Gonzalez said that team medical staff had assured Schafer he could not do more damage to the finger by playing with it.
But after batting practice, Schafer informed team officials that it was still too painful to swing.
“Yeah, it’s tough to do everything,” he said. “I mean, it’s not anything serious, but it’s just going to take a little bit to get that out of there where I can do stuff normal again. I guess they say it takes about 10 days to get that [swelling] out of there. The good thing is, they said it’s nothing serious.”
O’Flaherty is majors’ ERA leader
While All-Stars Craig Kimbrel and Jonny Venters have deservedly received plenty of attention for their performances in the Braves’ bullpen, fellow reliever Eric O’Flaherty quietly whittled his ERA to a majors-leading 0.96 before Tuesday, ahead of Cleveland’s Joe Smith (1.14) and San Diego’s Mike Adams (1.17).
“We have those two other guys, so he flies under the radar,” Gonzalez said. “He is putting together a hell of a season.”
O’Flaherty began Tuesday riding a streak of 22 appearances without giving up an earned run. He gave up 15 hits, one uearned run and eight walks with 14 strikeouts in 19-1/3 innings during that period.
“I’m not really pitching too much better than last year, it’s just that the guys coming in behind me aren’t cashing in any runs,” said O’Flaherty, who had a 2.45 ERA in 56 appearances for the Braves in 2010. “I left the bases loaded a few times and Jonny or someone came in and got a ground ball or a strikeout, and I look good. So it’s more a credit to those guys.”
Despite the numbers, O’Flaherty doesn’t put himself at the level of flame-throwers Kimbrel and Venters.
“It’s funny to be mentioned with those guys; they’re studs,” he said. “I’m doing the same thing I did last year. Like I said, with a guy like Jonny coming in behind you with the bases loaded, you feel pretty good about it. There’s not much to worry about. Liney [Scott Linebrink] has come in a few times. I’d say they probably stranded 10 runs for me, at least.
“So if half of those runs score, we’re not having this conversation.”