LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Braves left fielder Justin Upton has a sore right side and was scratched from the lineup for the team’s Grapefruit League opener Wednesday against the Detroit Tigers.
Upton and manager Fredi Gonzalez characterized the injury as minor and said the move was precautionary more than anything, since there’s more than a month until the Braves begin the regular season and no sense risking further aggravating an injury to one of their top players so early.
“It’s just a little sore, and it’s Feb. 26,” Upton said, adding that he didn’t object when Gonzalez said he planned to scratch him from the lineup.
Gonzalez said Upton won’t make the trip to Lakeland, Fla., for Thursday’s game, also against the Tigers. He’ll wait and see about playing him after that.
Jordan Schafer moved into the lineup in left field, batting ninth, and designated hitter Ryan Doumit moved up from ninth in the order to Upton’s fifth spot.
Upton said he had some general side soreness in the past couple of days and that it didn’t stem from any specific swing or throw that he made. He didn’t know whether it was an oblique muscle or some other muscle in his side, and emphasized that he didn’t think it was anything serious.
As Gonzalez sat in the dugout discussing the injury with reporters, Upton came through the dugout tunnel onto the field, stretching his torso while walking toward the batting cage beyond left field, bat in hand. The manager noted that was an indication of the relatively minor severity of the injury.
“It’s the first day, we’re still in February,” said Gonzalez, who was told by trainers and hitting coach Greg Walker after Tuesday’s workout, after Upton had left the ballpark, that the player had some soreness in his side that day.
Gonzalez had him in the original lineup Wednesday morning, but when Upton arrived he asked him how he felt. When Upton indicated he was OK but a little sore, Gonzalez immediately told him that was all he needed to hear and that he was going to scratch him from the lineup.
Braves revised lineup Wednesday
1. Heyward RF
2. B.J. Upton CF
3. Freeman 1B
4. Gattis C
5. Doumit DH
6. Johnson 3b
7. Uggla 2B
8. Simmons SS
9. Schafer LF
(Freddie Garcia pitching for Braves)