May 01, 2016

CHICAGO (AP) A front-office mistake left the Atlanta Braves short a player for their game against the Chicago Cubs on Sunday.

The Braves announced four hours before the scheduled first pitch that they had selected the contract of veteran utility player Emilio Bonifacio from Triple-A Gwinnett and optioned reliever Chris Withrow to Gwinnett.

One problem: Bonifacio isn't eligible to be on the Braves' 25-man roster until Saturday because it hasn't been 30 days since he was released by the Braves and re-signed to a minor league deal.

And bringing back Withrow wasn't an option.

''I just saw him leave,'' manager Fredi Gonzalez said.

So the Braves had only 24 players, even as Bonifacio wandered around their clubhouse Sunday morning.

''It's sort of a perfect storm of weird circumstances,'' said Billy Ryan, Atlanta's director of baseball operations. ''The fact that he signed back with us after being released off a big league deal in spring training, and that sort of ties our hands with what we can do with him with respect to the next few days.''

The commissioner's office informed the Braves of their mistake after they announced the move. So Bonifacio didn't even get to unpack before he was sent back to Gwinnett.

''It is unfortunate,'' Ryan said. ''We just spoke to Boni and explained it to him. We feel bad for him and having to explain it to him. We'll just have to move on from there.''

The 31-year-old Bonifacio was designated for assignment on April 2. He was released on April 6, then re-signed with Atlanta on a minor league deal four days later.

The 30-day clock for him rejoining the big league roster starts on the date of his release, not the day he was designated for assignment.

''It's sort of a convoluted rule,'' Ryan said.

For the last-place Braves, facing the MLB-leading Cubs a player short was just another challenge in a difficult first month of the season for Gonzalez.

''I have no idea what transpired here,'' Gonzalez said. ''So I can't comment.''

Atlanta wanted the switch-hitting Bonifacio to help a depleted bench.

The Braves have been carrying 13 pitchers, and that left them without a right-handed pinch hitter against Chicago lefty Jon Lester on Friday.

Withrow allowed an eighth-inning grand slam to Matt Szczur in that game, sending Atlanta to its ninth loss in 10 games. Saturday's game was rained out.

Ryan said Atlanta will call up another player before Monday night's game against the New York Mets.

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