Pena seeking second opinion on shoulder
Braves third baseman sustained his injury on June 9 against Dodgers
KANSAS CITY -- Braves third baseman Ramiro Pena will get a second opinion on his injured right shoulder in Atlanta on Wednesday. But the Braves are already prepared for the possibility that Pena will need to undergo a surgical procedure that could force him to miss the remainder of the season.
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez chose not to reveal the first opinion Pena received when he was examined on Friday. But the fact the valuable utility player is seeking a second opinion is certainly not encouraging.
Pena has battled right shoulder discomfort since landing awkwardly while making a diving stop along the third-base line against the Dodgers on June 9. His right shoulder was surgically repaired after he dislocated it while sliding into second base while playing in the Yankees' Minor League system in 2007.
It would be a big blow for the Braves if they were to lose Pena, who is hitting .278 with three home runs and a .773 OPS in 97 at-bats this season. Along with serving as a reliable pinch-hitter, Pena has also proven to be a valuable defender at each of the infield positions.
Without Pena, the Braves might feel a greater urge to at least attempt to find a third baseman before next month's non-waiver Trade Deadline.
While Chris Johnson entered Tuesday with a team-high .320 batting average, his defensive struggles at third base have created concern.
According to FanGraphs, Johnson's -28.5 UZR/150 defensive rating matches Milwaukee's Aramis Ramirez for the 45th-worst mark among all third basemen who have played at least 100 innings this season.
In the 22 games Johnson has played at third base since the Braves traded his former platoon partner Juan Francisco, he has committed four errors and produced a .907 fielding percentage.
Uggla adjusting to wearing contact lenses
KANSAS CITY -- As he prepared for Tuesday night's game against the Royals, Braves second baseman Dan Uggla said he is still trying to get used to the contact lenses he began wearing for the first time last Thursday.
Uggla did not report any problems during Friday night's game against the Brewers. But after experiencing blurred vision while batting the next two days, he opted to remove the contact lenses for his final two plate appearances of Sunday's series finale in Milwaukee.
"I can see clear with them, so I know that they are working," Uggla said. "But when I'm in the box, it's not good."
While not wearing his contacts on Sunday, Uggla recorded a single and was denied a potential double when his seventh-inning drive down the left field line was ruled foul.
Still Uggla entered Tuesday with the understanding that he needs to give himself a chance to get used to the contact lenses. When he was diagnosed with astigmatism during Spring Training, he ditched the contacts he was given after just a couple days.
The decision proved unwise as he spent a significant portion of this season routinely ducking out of the way of breaking balls that have been called strikes. Uggla received this latest pair of contact lenses after undergoing a variety of tests in Atlanta on Thursday.
"The comfort thing is not bad," Uggla said. "When I tried [the contacts] out in Spring Training, the comfort was awful. But the comfort is not the problem. I just got to get used to them. I think I just need to start putting them in when I wake up and take them out when I go to sleep. Not just put them in when I get to the field and take them out after the game."
Uggla will likely explore the option of undergoing LASIK surgery after the season. But he has no desire to undergo the procedure during the season. If Uggla were to do so, he would likely miss at least two weeks.
• Brandon Beachy completed a pain-free flat-ground throwing session from a distance of 90 feet on Tuesday. He will increase his distance over the next couple of days and then possibly throw off the mound during this weekend's series against the D-backs. Beachy was diagnosed with right elbow inflammation after feeling discomfort during what was supposed to be his final Minor League rehab start coming back from Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery.
• Gonzalez said he is still hoping catcher Evan Gattis will not miss much more than two weeks while recovering from a strained right oblique muscle he sustained on June 17. Gattis is eligible to return from the disabled list on July 3. But as of Tuesday, he had not yet resumed baseball related activities.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.