Smith staying upbeat despite thumb fracture

Smith staying upbeat despite thumb fracture

ATLANTA -- Mallex Smith walked into the Braves' clubhouse on Thursday afternoon, a wide smile across his face and as upbeat as ever.

With his left arm in a sling, the rookie outfielder's cheerful demeanor could have been absent given the left thumb fracture he sustained on Sunday against the Mets. But despite the fact he's expected to miss 8-10 weeks of action, Smith still relished his current position.

"There's so many other places you could be right now," said Smith to the throng of reporters surrounding him. "I'm still in the locker room and you guys want to interview me. I can't do anything to help the team right now, so why would I be sad? I can't be sad. These things happen."

Smith exited Sunday's game at Citi Field in the seventh inning after Antonio Bastardo's 91-mph fastball hit the tip of his thumb. He stayed in the game to run but didn't return to the field in the bottom of the frame.

After meeting with Dr. Gary Lourie on Monday in Atlanta, Smith was placed on the 15-day disabled list. On Thursday, Braves interim manager Brian Snitker said Smith will be re-evaluated on June 30 to see if he needs surgery and to determine what exercises he can participate in going forward.

Snitker met with Smith before Thursday's game against the Mets at Turner Field and expressed his desire for the rookie to stay with the team on the bench as he recovers.

"He's a big part of our team, and he's a great teammate," Snitker said. "He'll strike out, come back and the first thing out of his mouth is he's encouraging the next guy up there. You just want him still in the flow and watching what's going on, seeing the opposition and continuing to learn as he's in the dugout."

Before his injury, Smith was slashing .237/.312/.379. The speedster leads the Braves with 14 stolen bases and hasn't been caught stealing in his past eight attempts.

"It will heal, and when it heals I'll be back," said Smith. "The rest of my body is fine. I'm in great spirits right now. No sad train for me at all."

Worth noting
• Snitker said Mike Foltynewicz, who has been on the DL since June 4 with bone spurs in his right elbow, pitched three innings in a simulated game and is scheduled to throw five innings in a rehab appearance with Triple-A Gwinnett on Saturday. Snitker said the team hopes to have the right-hander back for two starts before the All-Star break.

• Snitker said Gordon Beckham, who has been on the DL since June 2 with a left hamstring strain, continues progressing in his recovery and could begin his rehab assignment this week.

Pat James is a reporter for MLB.com based in Atlanta. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.