Escobar, McLouth scratched in opener

Escobar, McLouth scratched in opener

ATLANTA -- Braves manager Bobby Cox chose to give Nate McLouth an additional day to rest his left hamstring. As for Yunel Escobar, Cox can only hope it will be just another day or two until he's able to keep him in his lineup.

Cox's original lineup for Tuesday night's series opener against the Phillies had McLouth and Escobar occupying the top two spots. But by the time batting practice concluded, both players had been removed.

Escobar was removed from the lineup before he chose to test his ailing right hip while taking grounders and some swings during batting practice. McLouth's removal came after he had a post-batting practice conversation with Cox.

Having never experienced any previous hamstring problems, McLouth arrived at the park early Tuesday afternoon confident that he no longer had to worry about the left hamstring that he'd strained during the eighth inning of Friday night's loss to the Red Sox.

But after conversing with McLouth, Cox decided it would be best to provide one more day of rest to his speedy center fielder, who places a lot of strain on his legs while on the basepaths and in the field.

"I hate being unavailable," said McLouth, who has hit .297 with two homers and 11 RBIs in his past nine games.

While there's seemingly a good chance that McLouth will return Wednesday, the Braves aren't sure what to think about Escobar, whose right hip flexor has continued to be a problem since it forced him to miss six weeks during the final week of May.

When Escobar didn't play during Friday's series opener against the Red Sox, the Braves made a point to say his absence was due to his hip and not a punitive reaction to the unprofessional response he provided after being charged with an error during Thursday night's game against the Yankees.

"It's not good," Escobar said when asked about his hip before he went to take some swings during Tuesday's batting practice.

Cox said that he would need to discuss things with Atlanta's medical staff before gaining a better idea about when Escobar might be able to return to the lineup.

"He's still hurting," Cox said, while adding that he didn't really know much more than the fact that it had been determined Escobar couldn't play on Tuesday night.

The Braves entered this series trailing the front-running Phillies by five games. Most of their troubles this year have been caused by an inconsistent offense that certainly benefits from the presence of Escobar, who ranks second in the National League with a .402 batting average with runners in scoring position.

Escobar pinch-hit in the ninth inning of Tuesday night's game and grounded out to second base.

Since being acquired from the Pirates on June 3, McLouth has primarily served as the leadoff hitter the Braves were seeking. He has hit .297 with two homers and 11 RBIs in his past nine games.

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