Cox confident Braves can handle Infante injury

A day after losing versatile veteran Omar Infante to a broken finger, Braves manager Bobby Cox seemed confident the team could make do without trading for a replacement.

"It's a rough loss for us, but we'll get by until he gets well," Cox said of Infante, expected to miss about two months after fracturing the fifth metacarpal of his left hand when hit by a pitch Wednesday.

He was scheduled for surgery Friday to repair the clean break, which Cox said was in the same place where Infante broke it in winter ball before the 2008 season. He was hit by a pitch then, too.

Infante was placed on the 15-day disabled list Thursday and rookie infielder Diory Hernandez, 25, was recalled from Class AAA Gwinnett to replace him. Hernandez hit .355 with 12 doubles and 20 RBIs in 29 games for Gwinnett, and can play shortstop, second base and third base.

Infante not only played those positions — and played them well — but also was a solid backup center fielder. He was hitting .349 overall and .381 (24-for-63) with a .437 on-base percentage as a leadoff man, second-best OBP among National League leadoff hitters.

Without him, Cox said the backup center fielder could be utility infielder Martin Prado, left fielder Matt Diaz (who played some center field in college), former outfielder Kelly Johnson, or right fielder Jeff Francoeur, who played some center in the minors.

Rookie Jordan Schafer has played all 40 games in center field, and if he got hurt the Braves could bring Gregor Blanco or Brian Barton from Gwinnett a day later. It would be difficult to trade for a utility man who can play the infield and center field like Infante, because there are few who do.

"He's the kind of guy you don't want to see go down," said Cox, who started Infante in 18 games at three infield positions.

Infante started 11 games at second base, where he played as much recently as Kelly Johnson, primarily because Infante was hitting so well, especially in the leadoff role. Johnson has hit .191 with a .262 OBP in 94 at-bats as a leadoff hitter, and Cox had shortstop Yunel Escobar in the leadoff position Thursday for the second time this season.

"He was forcing our hand to get him in there more and more," Cox said of Infante, who hit .373 with eight RBI in his past 16 games and had a team-high .385 average against left-handers.

When Infante broke the same bone during winter ball 16 months ago, it took longer than expected to heal, and he spent the first month of the 2008 season on the DL. He hit .300 with 29 RBIs in 55 games after the All-Star break and hit .347 in 26 games while filling in for third baseman Chipper Jones.

He signed a two-year, $4.325 million contract in January with a third-year club option for 2011.

Also Thursday, the Braves opened a roster spot for starting pitcher Kris Medlen by moving Jo-Jo Reyes to the 15-day DL on Thursday. Reyes strained his right hamstring Wednesday in his first relief appearance since being dropped from the starting rotation.

The left-hander gave up two hits, two runs and a walk in the eighth inning of the 12-4 loss to Colorado.