Delgado, Milligan Among Braves Slowed By Injuries

ATLANTA—There's never a good time for an injury, but the timing was particularly unfortunate for a couple of players who were making fast progress before going under the knife in 2010.

Lefthander Dimasther Delgado broke his right femur and left wrist in a serious car wreck in his native Panama in February. Upon his arrival at the Braves' complex this spring, doctors discovered a torn ligament in his knee as well, so he had surgery to repair it and spent the entire season rehabbing. He did pitch in a couple of games during the last two weeks of instructional league.

Delgado, 21, went 5-7, 3.61 in 100 innings at low Class A Rome in 2009, mixing a plus changeup with an 89-91 mph fastball. He showed an advanced feel for pitching by working both sides of the plate and throwing inside with consistency.

Outfielder Adam Milligan also made significant strides in 2009, when he led the Braves system with a .592 slugging percentage. After opening the season at Rookie-level Danville, Milligan earned promotions to Rome and high Class A Myrtle Beach, hitting a combined .344/.393/.592 with 13 home runs in 262 at-bats.

Milligan returned to Myrtle Beach this year and batted .200/.277/.376 with 35 strikeouts in 85 at-bats. He looked out of rhythm, and an examination revealed a torn rotator cuff in his left (non-throwing) shoulder that required surgery in late June. He took batting practice during the final week of instructional league and should be healthy for spring training.

"Both of those young men were diligent with their rehab after having excellent seasons the year before," farm director Kurt Kemp said. "We believe both of them have the ability and work ethic to get back on track and resume their pursuit of becoming major league players."

Two others players are not expected to be ready by Opening Day: righthanders Brett Butts and Reidy Escobar, both of whom had Tommy John surgery. Butts stood out in the Double-A Mississippi bullpen in 2009, going 7-3, 2.58 in 53 outings, and he had a 1.52 ERA with three saves in 15 appearances there this season. Escobar, a 21-year-old from Venezuela, went 1-1, 4.26 in 11 games in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League in 2009. Both hope to return to action by midseason 2011.

"Brett was pitching as well as I had seen him pitch just prior to the injury," Kemp said. "He was dominant in that relief role, and we believe he can regain that form after he works his way back from the surgery."

Wigwam Wisps

• Shortstop Brandon Hicks recovered quickly from his late-season broken hand and was already taking batting practice again.

• The Braves went with major league experience in hiring Dave Trembley as the team's new minor league field coordinator and Lee Elia as an instructor at both the major and minor league levels. Atlanta also hired longtime scout Bob Johnson as a special assistant to general manager Frank Wren.