HOUSTON -- The already-depleted Braves lineup took another hit Friday as left fielder Martin Prado was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a staph infection in his right calf.
Prado underwent a procedure today in Atlanta to clean out the infection, which was discovered on Tuesday. He was cleared to play that night but was injured in the ninth inning of that game, suffering an upper left calf contusion when he was hit by a ball stealing second base.
"On Tuesday, he was getting treated for, for lack of a better term, a raspberry [on his right calf]," said manager Fredi Gonzalez. "Then quickly that thing turns from just being a raspberry to a pretty serious infection. I think our people got on it pretty early and took care of it."
The steal was his second of the season, but the left calf contusion he suffered on the play forced him to miss the next two games. Prado is hitting .277 with eight home runs and had registered a hit in eight of his past 10 games before getting hurt.
"Obviously, that's tough," said Brooks Conrad. "He's a huge part of our team and a catalyst for us. Hopefully, he'll be OK. It's kind of a freak thing."
Utility infielder Brandon Hicks, a Texas A&M product who was born in Houston, was recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett to replace Prado and is expected to join the team sometime during Friday's game against the Astros.
Hicks, who began the season with the Braves before getting optioned to Gwinnett on May 6, was hitting .252 with eight home runs and 18 RBIs in 33 games at Triple-A.
Heyward, McLouth take swings off a tee
HOUSTON -- Braves outfielders Jason Heyward and Nate McLouth and pitcher Brandon Beachy are all closer to returning to action.
Heyward took cuts off a tee Friday for the first time since going on the 15-day disabled list on May 22 with stiffness and soreness in his right shoulder.
Manager Fredi Gonzalez said he won't make any decisions on bringing Heyward back until the outfielder is 100 percent.
"Obviously, today was encouraging that he took 70 swings and felt pretty good," Gonzalez said.
McLouth, whose last game was also May 22, also took cuts off a tee, took batting practice and will hit against Beachy in a simulated game Saturday in Florida.
McLouth and Beachy are both on the DL with strained left obliques. "Beachy is going to [throw] a couple of simulated games in Orlando," Gonzalez said. "He's going to throw three innings tomorrow, and then four to five innings on the 16th and six to seven innings on the 21st, all the way up to 100 pitches.
"Then we'll see where he's at as far as activating him. I don't know where those games are going to be."
Venters steps in for Kimbrel, notches save
HOUSTON -- The Braves aren't concerned when closer Craig Kimbrel needs a rest every once in a while.
Jonny Venters earned his second save of the season and third of his career Thursday night in place of Kimbrel, who allowed two runs in one inning Wednesday, which snapped a streak of five straight appearances without allowing a run.
Venters extended his streak of scoreless innings to 20, the longest of any current reliever in the Majors. He leads all Major League relievers with a 0.47 ERA in 35 appearances.
"I enjoy getting an opportunity to throw the ninth whenever Craig needs a blow and needs a day," Venters said. "I'm glad to step in and get the job done."
Kimbrel extended his National League rookie record for saves before the All-Star break with 18 by closing out the Marlins on Tuesday night.
"We have an incredible bullpen, and our starting pitching always goes late into the game," said first baseman Freddie Freeman. "It doesn't matter who comes in. Kimbrel, Venters, [Scott] Linebrink had a save earlier. They're all poised and ready to go whenever they're called upon."
Even though Venters continues to cruise through the 2011 season, Freeman said there's no question who the closer is in Atlanta.
"Kimbrel's still our closer," Freeman said. "He just got a day off yesterday. But whoever is called upon, they're ready to go. It's a beautiful thing."
Rowan Kavner is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.