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07/09/09 8:58 PM ET

Vazquez scratched from Sunday's start

Starter sidelined with strained lower abdominal muscle

DENVER -- As it turned out, Javier Vazquez wouldn't have been available to pitch during next week's All-Star Game.

Before Thursday night's series opener against the Rockies at Coors Field, Braves general manager Frank Wren revealed that Vazquez has been dealing with a strained lower abdominal muscle that will prevent him from making his scheduled start on Sunday.

An MRI exam performed in Atlanta on Thursday provided the Braves more reason to be optimistic about the possibility that Vazquez will take his first turn after next week's All-Star break.

"The MRI was actually very helpful to give us indication that it's not anything serious," Wren said.

Vazquez has been able to pitch through some slight discomfort over the last month. But during the latter stages of his stellar, seven-inning effort against the Cubs on Tuesday, he further aggravated the injury and awoke on Wednesday morning with increased discomfort.

"He's been battling this for a couple of weeks," Wren said. "We're hopeful that next week we'll have a better indication about whether he'll be able to jump back into the rotation after the [All-Star] break."

With the break providing an extra couple of days, the Braves could choose to put Vazquez at the back end of their rotation, which would present the opportunity that he could make his next start on July 20 against the Giants at Turner Field.

Vazquez, who ranks second in the National League with 136 strikeouts, and sixth in the league with a 2.95 ERA, has been able to provide his best performances while dealing with the ailment.

Over his past eight starts, the 32-year-old right-hander has gone 2-3 with a 1.96 ERA. This recent run of dominance led some to wonder if he would gain an All-Star selection, despite the fact that he has a losing record.

With Vazquez unavailable on Sunday, the Braves may ask Kris Medlen to go as long as possible. With the All-Star break starting the next day, the Braves may be able to use one of their starters for an inning or two of relief.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.