06/18/08 10:15 PM ET
Infante proving to be versatile
Braves' utilityman gives manager Cox options
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
"He's great," Cox said. "He can play almost anywhere and plays each of the positions well. He is really important."
Infante's ability to provide solid defense at third base has provided Cox the opportunity to rest Chipper Jones' legs during the first two games of this week's series against the Rangers. Jones, who owns a Major League-best .400 batting average through Tuesday, served as the designated hitter for a second consecutive game on Wednesday night.
When the Braves acquired Infante from the Cubs in December, they raved about his versatility. But because he broke his hand while playing in Venezuela in January, the veteran utility player wasn't able to start helping the Braves until the second week of May. During the 29 games he's played for the Braves, he's hit just .253 with a homer and seven RBIs.
Infante's sixth-inning leadoff solo shot on Tuesday night was one of the five homers he's hit in the 412 at-bats that have followed his May 24, 2006, two-homer game in Kansas City. But power obviously isn't the part of his game that enticed the Braves to acquire him and Will Ohman from the Cubs in exchange for right-handed reliever Jose Ascanio, who has made just four Major League appearances this season.
Cox has placed Infante in the starting lineup at five different positions this season and has been impressed with the athleticism he showed during his two starts in center field.
"He can do a lot of things for you," Cox said. "It's always nice to have those kinds of players."
During Thursday afternoon's series finale, Cox plans to use Mark Teixeira as his designated hitter and give Greg Norton his third start of the season at first base.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.