WASHINGTON -- Yunel Escobar's strained left groin had improved enough for him to play long toss before the Braves began a three-game series against the Nationals on Tuesday night. But uncertain whether he will be able to play this weekend in Philadelphia, Atlanta has decided to place the talented shortstop on the 15-day disabled list.

"He can't play in this series [against the Nationals], and I'm not sure if he could play in Philly," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "Before you know it, it's been 15 days. We can play short-handed. We've always done it. But we could use another guy."

With top utility player Omar Infante serving as the starting shortstop in Escobar's absence, the Braves have promoted Brandon Hicks from Triple-A Gwinnett to provide some insurance on the bench. Hicks, who has never previously been on the Major League roster, was present and available for Tuesday night's game.

"This is something you work hard for your whole life -- to get here," Hicks said. "But the main part is to stay here when you get here."

Escobar, who has hit .217 with eight RBIs this year, has been sidelined since suffering the groin strain on Thursday. Until he is eligible to be activated from the disabled list on May 15, Hicks will team with Brooks Conrad to serve as the club's backup infielders.

While Hicks' defensive skills have drawn rave reviews from Cox the past two years, his offensive potential has been deemed questionable. While playing 128 games for Double-A Mississippi last year, the 24-year-old infielder hit .237 with 10 homers and 131 strikeouts. He has hit .179 with one homer and 21 strikeouts in 84 at-bats with Gwinnett this year.