Originally created 04/25/06

Braves' infield slowly healing

MILWAUKEE - Piece by piece, Atlanta's infield and top of the batting order should begin to resume their Opening Day appearance against the Brewers this week.

On Monday, second baseman and leadoff hitter Marcus Giles, still fighting through an injured finger, was inserted into the lineup for the first time since Wednesday.

Chipper Jones, the team's third baseman and No. 3 hitter, said he'll play tonight, the first day he's eligible to come off the disabled list after sprains to his right knee and ankle.

Braves manager Bobby Cox said shortstop and No. 2 hitter Edgar Renteria could play if needed, but the team wants to be cautious of Renteria's tight left side.

Despite missing a week, Renteria is still tied for second on the team in RBI, with 12. He also still has the longest active hitting streak in the majors, at 12 games.

"If push comes to shove, I think he could play," Cox said. "But maybe we could wait another day."

There's still a decent chance all three players could play today, and they'll all certainly be back by the weekend series at home against the East-leading New York Mets.

The last time the trio played a full game together was April 8 in San Francisco, the sixth game of the season. That was the day before Jones skidded across the wet turf and injured his leg.

After taking batting practice Sunday night in Washington, Giles begged Cox to put him in the lineup. But Cox told him he would like to see prospect Martin Prado, who was just called up from Class AAA on Thursday. Prado wound up with a key triple in Atlanta's 3-1 victory.

Giles demonstrated Monday how he would protect his sprained middle finger, which also has a small bone chip. He planned to keep two fingers out of his glove in the field to avoid ball-to-finger contact. At the plate, to minimize vibration, he'll wear batting gloves padded heavily by athletic tape. His bat also has a thick layer of the tape.

"It's either that or don't play for another week or two," said Giles, who initially feared the finger was broken.

Reach R. Travis Haney at travis.haney@morris.com.


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