ATLANTA -- Kurt Suzuki's bruised right hand has reacted well to the exercises he has completed over the past two days. But with the recently acquired Carlos Perez now in place, the Braves have the option to delay Suzuki's return to the lineup.
Essentially playing the role of "the last man standing," Chris Stewart once again served as the Braves' catcher for Monday's series opener against the Nationals at SunTrust Park. Atlanta's original core was depleted by injuries to their top two catchers -- Tyler Flowers (strained left oblique) and Suzuki -- suffered within the first two games of the season.
The Braves went through Saturday's win over the Phillies with Stewart as the only true catcher they could use. After going through that game with utility man Charlie Culberson standing ready as the backup catcher, the team announced Perez had been acquired from the Angels in exchange for Ryan Schimpf.
"I don't think [Suzuki's injury] should be that bad," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "But it is a bruise, and we don't want him to bruise it again by trying to come back too early."
Perez, who was designated him for assignment by the Angels last week, could provide some valuable organizational depth as Flowers could be sidelined for at least a month. But from an immediate standpoint, his presence could provide some more healing time for Suzuki, who was fortunate to avoid a fracture when his right hand was hit by a Nick Pivetta pitch during Friday's fourth inning.
"I told [Suzuki] we'll just take it a day at a time," Snitker said. "We'll just see. He might get through a round of treatment and come in tomorrow and be ready to go. If he can, great. Wednesday, great. If it's Friday, it's okay."
Along with completing some defensive drills during Sunday's scheduled off-day, Suzuki took some soft toss swings and hit off a tee. The swelling below his pinky has subsided, allowing him to throw with relative discomfort as he played catch in the outfield before Monday's game.
Suzuki's primary concern remains how his hand will feel and react when he is attempting to hit live pitching.
Sanchez also added
The Braves added Perez and right-handed pitcher Anibal Sanchez to the active roster before Monday's game. Right-handed pitcher Miguel Socolovich was designated for assignment to create space for Sanchez on the 25-man and 40-man rosters.
Right-handed reliever Josh Ravin was placed on the 10-day disabled list to create space on the active roster for Perez, who took Schimpf's 40-man roster spot when the trade was completed on Saturday night.
Sanchez will be available to pitch out of the bullpen over the next few days. The veteran hurler is the leading candidate to move into the rotation when the Braves choose to use a fifth starter. But if he is needed to make a long relief appearance this week, the team may need to use another pitcher to fill the rotation spot that had been earmarked for Luiz Gohara, who is making his way back from a left ankle sprain.
The Braves do not need a fifth starter until April 10, but Snitker said depending on how this week progresses, the team could opt to use one a few days earlier. The Braves are going to Coors Field this weekend. So, the club could opt to start Sanchez during one of the final two games to provide either Julio Teheran or Sean Newcomb an extra day of rest.
Gohara completed a live batting practice on Monday without any problems. The big lefty will now start making a progression of Spring Training-like starts with the hope of joining Atlanta's rotation around the start of May.