De La Cruz leaves game with knee contusion

De La Cruz leaves game with knee contusion

MILWAUKEE -- Braves starting pitcher Joel De La Cruz felt fortunate to avoid a significant injury when his right knee was struck by a line drive that forced him to make an early exit from Wednesday night's 4-3 loss the Brewers at Miller Park.

De La Cruz suffered a right knee contusion when he was hit squarely by Orlando Arcia's line drive with two outs in the fourth inning. X-rays were negative on the right-hander, who was in obvious pain as he gingerly limped toward the dugout immediately after being struck by the line drive, which had a 105-mph exit velocity according to Statcast™.

"I was nervous, thinking it might be worse than what it actually was, but thankfully it's not," De La Cruz said.

While De La Cruz believes he will be fine in a few days, the Braves have the option to give the big right-hander more than a week to rest. Because of Monday's off-day, De La Cruz's spot in the rotation could pushed back to Aug. 20, which is around the same time Julio Teheran could return to Atlanta's injury-depleted starting rotation.

Arcia's liner hit off De La Cruz's knee and caromed toward Freddie Freeman, who stepped on the first base bag to record the final out in the fourth inning.

Braves manager Brian Snitker decided to remove De La Cruz as soon as he saw him slowly making his way toward the dugout.

With one out in the fifth inning, the Braves pinch-hit for De La Cruz, who allowed four earned runs and seven hits in four innings. He surrendered Chris Carter's three-run home run during a four-run third inning and then completed the fourth inning in both perfect and painful fashion.

"There was no way he was going to go back out there," Snitker said. "He got squared up pretty good."

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