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Speedy Blanco again atop lineup

Speedy Blanco again atop lineup

ATLANTA -- Although Braves manager Bobby Cox denies that there will be a permanent change at the top of the order, Gregor Blanco was again in the leadoff spot for Friday night's series opener against the Mariners.

Asked how much thought he has put into keeping Blanco in the leadoff spot, Cox replied, "Not much."

Despite struggling against left-handed pitching -- he is 7-for-39 against southpaws -- Blanco led off against Mariners lefty Erik Bedard on Friday, the fourth time he has hit first this season.

Blanco, the speedy center fielder whose six steals are second-most on the Braves, is 1-for-9 with four walks and three strikeouts in the leadoff spot this season.

Batting first during Thursday's 5-4 loss to the Rangers, Blanco went 0-for-3 with a walk. He also stole a base and had a 15-pitch at-bat before striking out.

Cox penciled in Ruben Gotay -- making a rare start at second base -- in the No. 8 hole on Friday, giving the backup infielder some playing time and Kelly Johnson a much-needed rest.

"We want to get Gotay in," Cox said. "He hasn't had an at-bat in a long time."

It is only Gotay's third start of the season and first appearance since June 12, when he was used as a pinch-hitter against the Cubs. He has eight hits in 40 at-bats this season.

Johnson had made 16 consecutive starts at second base before getting the day off on Friday.

"He's hitting good, playing great," Cox said. "Just getting a breather."

Left fielder Omar Infante batted fifth on Friday night, ahead of Brian McCann and Jeff Francoeur.

Ryan Lavner is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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