The growing ranks of the Braves’ walking wounded were joined Friday by outfielder Nate McLouth, who went on the 15-day disabled list with a lower abdominal strain.
Injured making a throw from center field Thursday, McLouth became the third Brave and second outfielder on the DL in three days. Catcher Brian McCann (oblique strain) and center fielder Jordan Schafer (fractured finger) were DL’d on Wednesday.
Third baseman Chipper Jones returned from the DL on Monday after arthroscopic knee surgery, then hurt his right quadriceps in his first game back and has since been limited to pinch-hitting duty. Jones might return to the lineup this weekend against Florida.
“We’ll survive it,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said of the spate of injuries. “We always talk about how every team goes through it. Whether it’s early in the year, late in the year, the middle of the year. I have all the confidence in our club, that we’re going to be able to survive that.”
To replace McLouth, the Braves brought up 27-year-old speedster Jose Constanza from Triple-A Gwinnett and started him in center field, batting leadoff in his major league debut Friday.
It’s the second DL stint of the season for McLouth, who missed 22 games for a strained oblique.
With the Sunday non-waiver trade deadline approaching and the Braves already on the market for a right-handed-hitting outfielder, Gonzalez was asked whether the McLouth injury might have changed their outlook or urgency.
“I don’t know,” he said. “We still have the third-best record in the National League. You still feel pretty good about your club. Obviously now, if the trade deadline comes and goes, we’ve still got to weather the storm.”
A day earlier, general manager Frank Wren said the McCann and Schafer injuries would not affect the Braves’ strategy at the trade deadline.
The Braves were among a handful of teams pursuing the most-coveted hitter on the trade market, Houston Astros All-Star outfielder Hunter Pence, but he was traded to rival Philadelphia on Friday night for a package that included the Phillies’ top hitting prospect and top pitching prospect.
The Astros’ asked for two of the Braves’ “big four” pitching prospects, a group that includes Julio Teheran, Arodys Vizcaino, Randall Delgado and lefty Mike Minor. The Braves wouldn’t include Mike Minor in a deal for three-month rental Carlos Beltran last week, and refused to part with two of those arms in a deal for Pence.
The Braves also have had discussions with the Chicago White Sox about outfielder Carlos Quentin, whose 20 homers and 62 RBIs would be team-highs for Atlanta. But the Sox are in a tight race in the American League Central and might hang on to Quentin.
There are less-expensive corner-outfield options the Braves have considered, including San Diego’s Ryan Ludwick and Oakland’s Josh Willingham.
They’ve also discussed to varying degrees several center fielders including Astros standout Michael Bourn (though he bats left-handed), enigmatic Tampa Bay talent B.J. Upton and the Chicago Cubs’ Marlon Byrd.