Braves third baseman Johan Camargo will start the season on the disabled list with a strained side and back.
Camargo has been out just over a week with a strain in his right oblique/lower back and hasn’t faced a pitcher since his last game March 13. He was cleared to begin hitting balls off a tee only Wednesday and the Braves were running out of time to get him ready for opening day, manger Brian Snitker said.
Snitker said later Wednesday night that Camargo would go on the DL.
“I was kind of hoping maybe he’d be in the game today,” Snitker said before Wednesday night’s game against the Tigers. “But those (side or back strains), you just don’t want to mess with it.”
Camargo conceded earlier Wednesday that he was unsure when asked if he thought he could be ready for opening day. The Braves can put him on the 10-day DL retroactively for up to three days of spring training, which would make him eligible to be activated as soon as April 6 at Colorado in the seventh game of the season and first game of a nine-game trip.
With Camargo out, the Braves seem likely to carry third baseman Rio Ruiz on the opening-day roster and have utility men Charlie Culberson and Danny Santana also available to play some third base. While Ruiz might also have made the opening-day roster with Camargo healthy, it was more likely they would’ve gone with an extra outfielder or third catcher rather than two third basemen.
The Braves are expected to open with an extra bench player on the roster since they won’t need a fifth starting pitcher until the second week. Veteran catcher Chris Stewart remains an option for the extra spot as a third catcher, especially since the Braves would risk losing him on waivers if they have to send him to the minors before opening day.
It could be easier to get Stewart through waivers after the season begins and teams have firmed up their rosters. And should anything happen to one of their primary catchers, veterans Tyler Flowers and Kurt Suzuki, the Braves would obviously like to have Stewart available to fill in.