Braves outfielder hoping to play during the weekend series with Marlins
ATLANTA -- With the memory of what happened to Jason Heyward still fresh, the Braves were staring at the possibility of losing another corner outfielder when Justin Upton was hit on the left hand by Ubaldo Jimenez's 92-mph fastball during the fifth inning of Thursday night's 3-1 win over the Indians.
But fear turned to relief when the Braves medical staff reviewed X-rays taken at Turner Field and did not find a fracture. Diagnosed with a bruised left hand, Upton is hoping to return to the starting lineup during this weekend's series against the Marlins.
"Whenever it feels better, I'm ready to go," Upton said as he sat at his locker after the game with his hand wrapped.
Manager Fredi Gonzalez said he will likely keep Upton out of the lineup for Friday's series opener. But the skipper seemed to think the veteran outfielder would return to action at some point this weekend.
"He's probably going to be pretty sore," Gonzalez said. "But that's fine. I'd rather take sore than the alternative. We'll go day-to-day with him."
This scare comes just eight days after outfielder Heyward fractured his jaw when he was hit with a 90-mph fastball by Mets left-hander Jon Niese at Citi Field. Heyward will be sidelined until at least the latter portion of September.
"You never want to get hit by a pitch in a fragile area," said Upton, who went 2-for-2 at the plate and scored on Brian McCann's decisive three-run homer in the third inning. "It's definitely a little bit scary."
After getting hit, Upton was briefly examined by assistant trainer Jim Lovell in front of Atlanta's dugout. When he walked toward first base, it appeared Upton was planning to stay in the game. But Gonzalez revealed that Upton thought he had to touch the bag before exiting.
"Instincts just take over," Upton said with a laugh.
Freddie Freeman entered as a pinch-runner and remained in the game at first base to start the sixth inning, while Joey Terdoslavich, who started at first base, shifted to left field.