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BRAVES NOTEBOOK: Injured Maholm no longer has trade value

Paul Maholm is 9-9 with a 4.36 ERA this season and has battled a wrist injury for much of the last month.

Paul Maholm is 9-9 with a 4.36 ERA this season and has battled a wrist injury for much of the last month.

ATLANTA — Paul Maholm’s wrist injury is a double blow for the Braves. Not only can’t he pitch, but he no longer is a trade chip as he sits on the disabled list.

Maholm had to leave a start against the Chicago White Sox on Saturday in the fourth inning and rookie Alex Wood will pitch in his place against the Mets in New York today.

The Braves thought they had a starter to swap for bullpen help with Wood stretched back out after a minor league outing with Triple-A Gwinnett and Brandon Beachy nearing the end of a second minor league rehab.

Now everything seems to be up in the air with the non-waiver trade deadline nearing at the end of the month.

Maholm, in the last year of his contract, was acquired from the Cubs last July and had pitched well until stumbling the last month or so. Now he is sidelined because of a sore wrist he first hurt batting in Miami on July 10.

The left-hander may not have brought back the desired return anyway. He is 9-9 with a 4.36 ERA after losing five of his last seven decisions.

Wood, a second-round draft choice in 2012, will take his place today in New York, and then the Braves will have a choice of the young left-hander or Beachy going forward.

Beachy started for Gwinnett at Durham on Wednesday and, if all goes well, he could be ready to rejoin the Braves soon. He has gone, three, four and five innings in three starts for the G-Braves after taking a month off because of inflammation in his surgically repaired elbow.

With the setback to Beachy, Wood came out of the bullpen to make a spot start against the Mets in Atlanta on June 18 during a makeup doubleheader and needed 71 pitches to make it through three innings.

The Braves are expecting more from Wood this time.

“It’s his second start in the big leagues,” Gonzalez said. “I think this will be a little more comfortable start.”

Wood was 4-2 with a 1.46 ERA for Double-A Mississippi before being brought up to Atlanta in late May. He allowed three hits and a run over five innings in a victory for Gwinnett last Thursday.

Braves talks Braun: When there is a baseball story as big as the Ryan Braun drug suspension, it invariably occupies much of the conversation for a day or two in major league clubhouses, where multiple TVs are usually tuned to ESPN and MLB Network and the story is played over and over.

The response from many players today contrasts sharply with just a few years ago, when most either supported other players accused of performance-enhancing drug use or declined to comment.

Now it’s almost the opposite. Most players publicly support baseball’s tougher drug testing program and stiffer penalties, and few have spoken out in defense of Braun, at least not publicly, since he was suspended 65 games without pay on Monday for violation of baseball’s drug program and labor contract.

“It’s terrible for baseball,” Braves third baseman Chris Johnson. “I mean, it’s good for baseball in that it’s cleaning up the game. It’s bad for baseball in that one of our best players is now, you know, labeled a cheater.”

Braves catcher Gerald Laird believed Braun’s penalty should have been more severe.

“He’s not giving up very much of his contract, because he’s making more money next year and the following years,” Laird said. “His team is not going to the postseason, so there’s nothing to lose there. I mean, what are you really teaching the guy? And he knowingly came out and said he didn’t do anything.”

“I mean, what are you really teaching the guy? And he knowingly came out and said he didn’t do anything. I don’t think he should be banned from baseball, but make it hurt. Make him sit out next year for 50 games or 100 games.”

Braun’s suspension will cost him about $3 million of his $8.5 million salary this season, and his salary soars in the future. He is owed about $127 million during 2014-2010, including a five-year, $105 million contract extension that doesn’t even begin until 2016.

“If you look at it from a financial standpoint,” veteran Braves outfielder Reed Johnson said, “you lose 3 or 4 million dollars in salary, but because you did it, you’ve got $150 million on a contract.”

He added, “And I’ve played on a one-year deal almost every year.”

The 65-game suspension he agreed to in a deal with major league baseball will allow Braun to return without missing any games next season.

Besides the general change in attitude toward PED usage by seemingly a majority of players, also working against Braun is the fact that many believe the disgraced Brewers star lied to them and everyone else after first testing positive in 2011 — the year he won the National League MVP award — when he said an error in the test-collection procedure was the culprit, not him.

He even blamed a specific test-sample collector while doing what amounted to gloating, in the view of many, when he won his appeal after testing positive in that incident.

“This guy knowingly (used PEDs) for years,” Laird said. “Then to come out and say he didn’t do it, and ruin some people’s lives with it, and now we’re saying, ‘Your team’s out of it, it’s not going to really hurt your guys, so go do your 65 games and we’ll see you next year.’ No.

“His reputation is tarnished, and you never wish that on anybody. But the way he’s gone about it, it’s just not right. He was willing to throw other people under the bus to save his own butt, and now you’re just supposed to just kind of push it under the rug and come back next year with a fresh slate? No.

“Guys are (ticked) off. Guys that come in here and work for ESPN, who are ex-players and supported him, he lied to their faces. Now you see how they’re reacting, and they have a right to. This guy basically lied to all his peers and all the ex-players.”

Chris Johnson said Braun was a player he’d admired.

“I mean, he’s a guy that I’ve watched, as a right-handed hitter, watching his swing,” he said. “It stinks. But hopefully he comes back, serves his suspension and continues to be a good player.

“We’ll see in the long run if it changes who he was. We’ll see. Hopefully, for his sake, it won’t. Because if it does, then it looks like everything he did is tarnished.”