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McLouth heads to DL; Infante also ailing

McLouth heads to DL; Infante also ailing

MINNEAPOLIS -- When the Braves decided to place Nate McLouth on the disabled list on Friday, they determined that they needed to promote Jordan Schafer because he was the only available outfielder on their 40-man roster who wasn't already in the Majors.

But with uncertainty now surrounding Omar Infante's ability to play within the next few days, the Braves had a much greater need to promote an infielder to serve as their backup shortstop.

So instead of bringing Schafer to the Majors, the Braves have determined that they will fill McLouth's roster spot with shortstop Brandon Hicks. Their plans changed when Infante was forced to exit Friday night's 2-1 loss to the Twins after fouling a fifth-inning pitch off his right foot.

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"With Infante getting injured, we need a backup shortstop," Braves general manager Frank Wren said. "So we're not going to recall Schafer. We're going to recall Hicks instead and see what happens with Infante's injury."

Initial exams indicated that Infante didn't fracture any bones. But he told the Braves medical staff that he wouldn't even be available to pinch-hit on Saturday.

As for McLouth, the Braves know that his concussion-like symptoms are going to bother him for at least another week. He has been battling headaches since colliding with Jason Heyward during the eighth inning of Wednesday's game in Arizona and was still experiencing some dizziness on Friday.

"[McLouth] feels awful," Cox said. "He's not going to get well anytime soon."

While the Braves haven't officially said that McLouth suffered a concussion when he flipped over Heyward and jarred his head against the ground, they have taken a precautionary approach to treating his ailment.

"They haven't used that word, but they've been treating it that way," McLouth said.

With McLouth sidelined, the Braves will utilize Melky Cabrera as their primary center fielder and provide Gregor Blanco the opportunity to play much more frequently over the course of the next couple of weeks.

The Braves entered the season wanting Schafer to spend at least three or four months in the Minors to make up for the time he's missed the past two seasons, while serving a 50-game suspension and battling the pain caused by a surgically repaired right hand that prevented him from making his season debut until May.

With outfielders Matt Diaz and Brent Clevlen also on the disabled list, the Braves spent a portion of Friday thinking that they were going scrap these plans and allow Schafer to spend at least a couple weeks serving as a fifth outfielder, one who would occasionally be utilized as a pinch-runner and late-inning defensive replacement.

While Hicks wouldn't be utilized as an outfielder unless absolutely necessary, he will serve as the club's only viable backup shortstop behind Yunel Escobar as long as Infante is sidelined.

Hicks, who spent some time on the Major League roster during May, entered Friday hitting .206 for Triple-A Gwinnett. But the talented defender has shown some promise while compiling a .250 batting average (6-for-24) and striking out three times in June.

If Infante is able to begin playing again within the next couple days, Wren said the club could opt to send Hicks back to Gwinnett and put Schafer on the big league roster until one of his injured outfielders returns from the disabled list.

Schafer has hit .213 with four extra-base hits (three doubles and a triple) in 89 at-bats for Gwinnett entering Friday.

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

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