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Jose Constanza released by Braves

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Outfielder Jose Constanza, a feel-good Braves story when he briefly excelled as an obscure 27-year-old rookie in 2011, was among a group of minor leaguers released by the team on Friday.

The Braves brought up Constanza from Triple-A in late July 2011 because of injuries, and he provided an unlikely boost to their offense by hitting .414 (24-for-58) with two homers, five stolen basees, nine RBIs and 14 runs in his first 16 games in the major leagues, all the while licking his bat in the hot spot after foul balls.

He finished the 2011 season with a .303 average and .339 OBP in 42 games that season. But in 96 big-league games since that initial 16-game flurry, Constanza hit just .222 (36-for-162) with two extra-base hits (doubles), eight RBIs and seven stolen bases.

He was removed from the 40-man roster in January and designated for assignment, and was 2-for-7 this spring when brought over for five games as an extra from minor league camp.

In 114 games at Triple-A Gwinnett last season, Constanza hit .293 with a .344 OBP, 12 extra-base hits (no homers) and a .669 OPS in 497 plate appearances.

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Veteran former major league reliever Todd Coffey, trying to make a comeback after Tommy John surgery, was also among the minor leaguers released Friday by the Braves.

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