Braves suspend AWOL Aybar
Injured infielder docked three games after not showing up
ATLANTA -- Willy Aybar's future with the Braves became even cloudier on Sunday afternoon, when the club announced that he had been suspended for three games for violation of team policy.
"He violated team policy, " general manager John Schuerholz said. "We're aware of where he is now, but he wasn't where he was supposed to be."
Aybar, who is currently on the 15-day disabled list because of a sore right hand, didn't show up for Saturday night's scheduled game against the Marlins. When he didn't arrive at Turner Field again Sunday, the Braves made the decision to suspend him, which is expected to take three days of pay away from the utility infielder.
Many of the Braves players chose not to speak on record regarding Aybar. But it seemed that none of them had seen or heard from him since Friday. One player even asked a reporter, "What's going on with him? Is he all right?"
Some Braves players have said Aybar sticks primarily to himself and doesn't hang out with teammates away from the ballpark.
This isn't a first offense for Aybar. During Spring Training, while he was supposed to be rehabbing his hand injury, he missed a day because he was sick. But he never called the club to alert them he wouldn't be showing up that day.
Since being acquired from the Dodgers in last July's Wilson Betemit trade, Aybar hasn't exactly made a good impression. He began his Braves career with a four-hit game against the Mets. But he ended that July 30 afternoon game by inexplicably attempting to steal second base with two outs and his team facing a four-run deficit.
Literally adding injury to insult, he sprained his left middle finger while sliding into second base on the play. The injury eventually forced him to be on the disabled list from Aug. 12-Sept. 1.
Aybar's current right hand injury is a result of playing in the Dominican Winter League. MRIs and X-rays have shown he has nothing more than a sprain. Yet since March 9, the switch-hitting infielder has claimed he's unable to bat from the left side of the plate.
Aybar hit .313 in 115 at-bats for the Braves last year and entered this season expected to serve as one of the club's utility infielders.
Even if he reaches a point where he's healthy enough to play, the Braves may have a hard time placing him on the roster in favor of Pete Orr, who is a clubhouse favorite, beloved by teammates, coaches and manager Bobby Cox.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.