ATLANTA -- Alex Wood counted himself lucky that off-and-on rain brought a late-arriving crowd to Turner Field for Wednesday night's game against the Marlins. In a light-hearted gesture of rookie hazing, the former University of Georgia standout was forced to carry a plush Florida Gators backpack as he walked out to the bullpen with the rest of the relievers for pregame warmups.
His fellow relievers brought as much attention to the prank as they could, making Wood lead the group into the outfield and taking turns playing with the snout of the plush gator mascot on the back of the backpack. Before Thursday's game, Wood said he expected to be carrying the backpack out to the bullpen on a regular basis after its maiden voyage the previous night.
Wood took the mound against the archrival Gators twice in his three years at Georgia: In 2011, he surrendered 12 hits over seven innings in a 5-4 loss, but as a redshirt sophomore in 2012, he turned in a dominant seven-strikeout performance in a game that Florida went on to win in 16 innings.
Braves to let Schafer heal on disabled list
ATLANTA -- Jordan Schafer was not happy to learn he had been placed on the disabled list on Thursday morning. The Braves wish they had made the decision to make the transaction before allowing Schafer to make two pinch-hit appearances during this week's series against the Marlins.
After watching Schafer struggle to run to first base during Wednesday night's loss to the Marlins, the Braves chose to put the backup outfielder on the DL with a right ankle contusion he has battled over the past week. Joey Terdoslavich was promoted from Triple-A Gwinnett to fill Schafer's spot on the 25-man roster.
"We thought he was getting better," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "Then yesterday, the way he ran to first base, why put him through that stuff? We'll just let him get healed and not have him worry about it."
Schafer has had limited mobility since fouling a pitch off his ankle during a June 26 game in Kansas City. The versatile outfielder favored his right leg when he beat out an infield single on Tuesday night, and again while grounding out on Wednesday night.
Had the Braves not used Schafer this week, he would have been eligible to come off the DL on July 12. But now he will not be eligible for activation until July 19, when the Braves play their first game after the All-Star break.
"If we hadn't used him, it still would have taken 15 [days]," Gonzalez said. "But now, at least we don't have to worry about it. Hindsight is always ..."
Schafer declined to discuss the decision when he was approached in the Braves' clubhouse on Thursday afternoon. Earlier in the day, he sent a tweet that indicated he did not know he was placed on the disabled list until he saw the news on Twitter.
Schafer has resuscitated his career, batting .312 with a .863 OPS in 146 plate appearances. His absence could lead to more playing opportunities for veteran backup outfielder Reed Johnson, who has made one start since May 28.
Night after latest struggle, Braves option Gearrin
ATLANTA -- The Braves optioned struggling reliever Cory Gearrin to Triple-A Gwinnett on Thursday night and recalled Luis Ayala to take his place on the 25-man roster.
Gearrin gave up six earned runs in six appearances during the month of June and had not pitched in nine days before he was brought on to handle the eighth inning of Wednesday night's game against the Marlins. Gearrin hit the second batter he faced and went on to allow two runs on two hits and a walk before finishing the eighth in the Braves' 6-3 loss.
Gearrin has had a tough time since making 13 consecutive scoreless appearances to begin the season. He was charged with just two earned runs in his next 13 appearances, but he also allowed six of the 17 runners he inherited to score during that span.
In the 11 appearances he has made dating back to May 26, Gearrin has compiled a 9.90 ERA and allowed opponents to produce a .509 on-base percentage.
In his place, the Braves on Friday recalled Ayala, who had been on the disabled list with an anxiety disorder since April 30. Despite four scoreless outings in his six appearances for Gwinnett since June 20, Ayala gave up six earned runs over that span, striking out five batters and issuing five walks.
• Evan Gattis took approximately 20 pain-free swings in the indoor batting cage at Turner Field on Thursday afternoon. This was his first baseball-related activity since he was placed on the disabled list on June 18 with a strained right oblique muscle. It is still too early to tell when he could be activated.
• Brandon Beachy will need to complete at least one more side session before being cleared to make the first of what will be multiple Minor League rehab starts. Beachy has experienced no problems during the side sessions he has completed over the past week. His plan to return from Tommy John surgery on June 18 was erased by a short bout with inflammation in his right elbow.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. Eric Single is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.