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Cox wants Kotsay back in Braves lineup

Cox wants Kotsay back in Braves lineup

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MILWAUKEE -- Braves manager Bobby Cox says that he still has healthy bodies to construct a strong outfield on a daily basis. But he also knows that he has no desire to spend the next couple of weeks without Mark Kotsay in his lineup.

Fortunately for Cox, this potential scenario doesn't appear as likely as it had on Tuesday, when there was at least some discussion about placing Kotsay on the 15-day disabled list.

Although he was unable to play for a third consecutive game on Wednesday, Kotsay reported to Miller Park feeling much better than he had the past couple of days. His back, which has provided him plenty of trouble of the past few years, had loosened to the point that he was at least able to perform some baseball-related activities during batting practice.

"We're going to proceed with caution as long as possible," said Kotsay, who played in a career-low 56 games after having back surgery in March of last year. "Hopefully I'll be back in [the lineup] sooner rather than later."

Kotsay's baseball-related activities were limited to catching fly balls during Wednesday's batting practice. He will likely begin taking swings within the next couple of days.

The desire to get Kotsay back into action as soon as possible was increased during Tuesday night's game, when Matt Diaz was lost for an undetermined amount of time with a left knee injury that has been initially diagnosed as a sprained posterior cruciate ligament.

Before returning to Atlanta on Wednesday for further evaluation, Diaz was spotted in the hotel lobby by Cox, who said the outfielder was walking with a bad limp.

Because Diaz had struggled over the past month, there was a chance that Gregor Blanco was going to serve as the club's everyday left fielder. But as long as Kotsay's unavailable, Blanco may find himself in center. Arm strength makes him a better candidate for this position than Omar Infante, who started in left field on Wednesday.

"We've got a good flexible bench that's for sure," said Cox, who could also use Greg Norton as a corner outfielder if necessary.

If Kotsay's back doesn't improve and he's forced to the disabled list, the Braves would likely promote either Josh Anderson or Brandon Jones from Triple-A Richmond.

After showing some promise earlier this month, Jones has hit .222 over his past 10 games and is batting just .260 this season.

Anderson, who is a skilled defensive center fielder, is hitting .282 this year and has batted .325 over his past 10 games. The speedy outfielder has also been successful with 13 of his 16 stolen base attempts.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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