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Braves notebook: Blanco starts again in left

POSTED: May 2, 2008 5:01 a.m.

ATLANTA — Gregor Blanco started over Matt Diaz for the third straight game Sunday, and the two may continue to share playing time in a left-field platoon.

Blanco, a rookie, was 1-for-2 with a walk after having two hits in each of the Braves’ first two games of the weekend series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He is hitting .400 (6 for 15).

Diaz replaced Blanco and had two strikeouts as his average fell to .258.

Diaz began the season playing regularly against right-handers and left-handers after sharing time in left field the last two years.

Manager Bobby Cox, holding true to form, wouldn’t say if he plans on going back to a platoon.

"What are you going to do?" Cox asked. "(Blanco) got two hits again (Saturday).

"I don’t know. We’ll see how it goes. Diaz was struggling a little bit and I just wanted to get (Blanco) in there. He deserves it."

Diaz worked on his swing as he was held out of the starting lineup through the weekend.

After the two strikeouts, he is 11-for-45 (.244) with 16 strikeouts in his last 12 games. He hit .338 in 2007 and .327 in 2006, though he wasn’t a full-time player either year.

Diaz said his timing was off this season but said he is confident he’ll stop rushing his swing.

Diaz noted his platoon with Willie Harris last season changed as Harris faded in the second half.

"Bobby goes with the hot hand," Diaz said.

"Whatever happens, I’m ready to start helping the team. It will be nice when I can do that."

Soriano update

Closer Rafael Soriano is not expected to be activated when eligible to come off the disabled list on Tuesday.

He will need more time to return to form as he has been instructed to rest after going on the disabled list on April 9 with right elbow tendinitis.

Soriano has only played catch and has not yet thrown off a mound since going on the disabled list. He also had soreness in the elbow early in spring training.

Hot but hurting

With two hits in three at-bats, Chipper Jones improved his batting average to .458, best in the major leagues, but he left the game with a strained right quadriceps.

Jones first strained the quadriceps on April 9 in Colorado and said he was being cautious by leaving the game in the sixth inning.

"I just didn’t want to take any more chances than I had to," Jones said.

"It was knotting up on me just standing around today. I woke up sore and just didn’t get loose. It didn’t get any better. The double certainly didn’t help."

Jones extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a third-inning single. He added a double in the fifth.

Cox said Jones is questionable for Monday’s game against Washington but added "no more than that. ... It’s nothing that’s going to have him out any length at all."

Over his past seven games, Jones is hitting .571 (16 for 28) with five homers and nine RBI.



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