Callup of Bonifacio delayed by technicality

Braves try to add utility man to roster, but can't until Saturday; Withrow optioned

Callup of Bonifacio delayed by technicality

CHICAGO -- Shortly after welcoming Emilio Bonifacio back to the Major League level on Sunday morning, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez was given the uncomfortable task of informing the veteran utility player that he must return to the Minor Leagues for at least a few days because of a rule that Atlanta's front office had overlooked.

In an effort to replenish their bench by reverting back to a 12-man pitching staff, the Braves announced they had purchased Bonifacio's contract from Triple-A Gwinnett and optioned right-handed reliever Chris Withrow to Gwinnett.

It seemed like a relatively mundane transaction until a Major League Baseball official informed the Braves that Bonifacio was not eligible to be added to Atlanta's roster because 30 days have not elapsed since the Braves had released him from the one-year, $1.25 million deal signed in December.

"It's sort of a convoluted rule from MLB," Braves assistant general manager Billy Ryan said. "Because we signed [Bonifacio] to a Major League contract and then he was released at the end of Spring Training and he subsequently signed with us and not another club, we can't select him to the big leagues until 30 days after his release date."

Bonifacio was designated for assignment on April 2 (the final day of Spring Training) and then released by the Braves on April 6. He then signed a Minor League deal with the Braves on April 10 and spent the past few weeks playing for Gwinnett. He will not be eligible to be placed on Atlanta's roster before Saturday.

"The Boni deal is a little bit unorthodox," Ryan said. "I've never seen a guy get released from a big league deal, re-sign with the same team and end up in the big leagues a month later. It's kind of out of the ordinary."

The Braves were bringing Bonifacio back to the Majors to provide them the right-handed bench option that they had lacked while spending most of the past two weeks utilizing a 13-man pitching staff.

But because Withrow left Chicago before this technicality was revealed and there was not enough time to get another position player to town, Gonzalez actually entered Sunday's game with one less option in his bullpen and his bench still short-handed.

The Braves will promote another position player from Gwinnett to fill Withrow's roster spot before Monday's series opener against the Mets at Citi Field.

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.