LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Jack Wilson didn’t make it to Braves spring training before straining his right calf, which is expected to sideline the veteran shortstop for four to six weeks and could land him on the disabled list to start the season.
The Braves re-signed Wilson in January to serve as a utility infielder and backup to rookie shortstop Tyler Pastornicky. Manager Fredi Gonzalez said the Braves can fill in for Wilson with others already on the roster or non-roster camp invitees.
Wilson was injured Tuesday during a sprint drill while working out with Pastornicky at Wilson’s home gym in Camarillo, Calif. Pastornicky went out there Feb. 18 for a planned five days of workouts, tips and one-on-one lessons from Wilson.
“It’s one of those injuries you’ve got to make sure is completely gone,” Gonzalez said, “because if you try to come back too quickly it’s going to just nag on you for the whole year. It’s just a nagging thing. So four to six weeks — we’re hoping more four than six.
“We’ve got plenty of candidates here in camp that can do that job.”
Wilson, 34, called the Braves on Wednesday to let them know of the severity of his injury. The team didn’t announce it until Friday after he and Pastornicky arrived in camp on full-squad reporting day. The first full-squad workout is Saturday at 1 p.m.
Gonzalez named non-roster utility infielders Josh Wilson and Drew Sutton as candidates to fill in for Wilson. Gonzalez might also ask if top shortstop prospect Andrelton Simmons could stick around longer than he might otherwise before being sent to minor league camp.
“He’s exciting to watch,” Gonzalez said of the slick-fielding Simmons. The manager then joked, “Maybe run ol’ Chipper [Jones] out there every once in a while.”
The Braves also have shortstop Brandon Hicks, who is on the 40-man roster.
Wilson had the same type of injury to his left calf in 2008, and said it took three or four weeks before he could do much on it. That injury was in Atlanta, when he played for Pittsburgh and hurt the left calf running out a single in the opening week of the season.
“The good thing is it’s at this point [of spring], so I’m not looking to miss too many games during the season,” Wilson said. “It actually feels better than the left one did at this stage. Putting weight on it’s a pretty good sign. It’s not out of the question to be playing the last three, four or five spring training games. That’s what I’m shooting for.”
He said the injury wouldn’t keep him from continuing to mentor Pastornicky.
“I’ve been working with him for the past week. He’s fine,” Wilson said. “He’s a great kid. I got to work with him a lot before this happened.
“I’ll be off of crutches the next couple of days. I’ll be going out there on the field and still talking, if he has any questions. We worked on a lot of little things, but he’s pretty polished. He didn’t need that much work.”