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BRAVES NOTEBOOK: Maholm’s MRI shows no damage in elbow; Uggla doesn’t agree with benching

Paul Maholm

Paul Maholm

MIAMI — The Braves sent left-hander Paul Maholm back to Atlanta to undergo a dye-contrast MRI on his left elbow Wednesday after he had some lingering soreness in his elbow.

The Braves said after Wednesday’s game that the MRI showed no structural damage. He will skip his next start, and the team will re-evaluate his status. The Braves hope it’s only tendinitis.

Manager Fredi Gonzalez said Maholm indicated he felt discomfort during his start Sept. 2 against the Mets when he allowed three runs in five innings of a 13-5 win. Gonzalez said Maholm toughed it out against the Phillies on Sunday. Maholm was effective, too, allowing only two runs in six innings in Philadelphia on Sunday.

The Braves plan to pitch David Hale, a recent September call-up, in Maholm’s place today against the Padres at Turner Field, starting the Marietta native in his major league debut.

Gonzalez said Maholm would need a minimum of three or four days after having his elbow injected with dye, even if his elbow injury isn’t considered serious.

Maholm did not figure to be among the top three Braves starters heading into the postseason, with Mike Minor, Julio Teheran and Kris Medlen leading the way, but now might be passed over for the fourth spot by rookie Alex Wood.

UGGLA REACTS TO BENCHING: Second baseman Dan Uggla was out of the Braves’ lineup for the third consecutive game Wednesday in Miami, having continued to struggle at the plate since his return from laser eye surgery.

Uggla is 4-for-30 (.133) with no extra-base hits or RBIs in 13 games since his return. Gonzalez has sat both Uggla and B.J. Upton for the first three starts of this series after they combined to go 0-for-18 with 10 strikeouts over the weekend in Philadelphia.

“We have 20 games left and counting,” said Gonzalez, explaining his thinking as the Braves entered this series. “And we’re trying to put the best team on the field that we think is going to win that particular game.”

Uggla said he met with Gonzalez on Monday, though he came away not sure what his manager’s plan was from here forward.

“It’s his ballclub,” Uggla said. “I’ve got to respect the decision that he made. Do I agree with it? Once again, and I’ve reiterated this a lot of times — no absolutely not. I don’t think we’re a better ballclub with me on the bench. But he’s the manager. I’ve got to respect his decision.”

Gonzalez benched Uggla for three games during the first week of September last year. When he returned, Uggla hit .288 with two homers and 14 RBIs over his final 24 games.

“I’m still just as (mad) this year as I was last year, but I’ve also grown up a little bit from the experience last year and held my emotions probably a little better this year,” Uggla said.

He has been used as a defensive replacement in the first two games of this series against the team he played with the first five years of his career.

“I can put my emotions aside to win for this team,” Uggla said. “Is it embarrassing? Yeah. … I’m not used to being this dude. But at the same time I’ve got to make an adjustment and produce.”

Uggla said he had hoped with a 12-game lead to use this time to get right at the plate in time for the playoffs.

“The one-game playoff (in 2012), that’s the only experience I’ve gotten in the playoffs, so this is a huge deal for me,” Uggla said. “I’ve always dreamt about playing in the playoffs. I’ve never dreamed about sitting on the bench in the playoffs. But we’ll have to see how it plays out.”

WOOD SKIPPED: The Braves skipped Wood’s next scheduled start Thursday against the Marlins to give him a breather, as they did both Minor and Teheran, heading toward the playoffs.

Veteran Freddy Garcia started in Wood’s place Thursday against the Marlins.

Wood, 22, is pitching in his first full professional season, after pitching 52 innings in the minors last year after he was drafted in the second round from the University of Georgia.

Wood has pitched 132 1/3 innings this season between the majors (70 1/3) and minor league stints in Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett (62). Gonzalez said Wood likely will fall back into the rotation Monday or Tuesday in Washington.

The Braves gave Teheran a 10-day break before he started Tuesday night in Miami. Minor had an eight-day break before his start Aug. 25 in St. Louis. Medlen likely will stay on his regular rotation the rest of the season because he went 10 days between starts around the All-Star break.

It will be Garcia’s first start as a Brave since they acquired him in a trade with Baltimore on Aug. 23. He has allowed one earned run in 7 2/3 innings over three relief appearances.