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Phillies-Braves rained out in 4th inning

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KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) The Atlanta Braves didn't get to play much Thursday night, but they did settle on Ender Inciarte as a leadoff hitter.

''I haven't officially announced it, but he has led off every time he's been in the lineup, and he has done nothing not to get (the assignment),'' manager Fredi Gonzalez said after Inciarte had both of the Braves' hits in a game against the Philadelphia Phillies that was rained out in the fourth inning.

''I like him up there. He's done it before,'' Gonzalez said. ''He's got some speed and I like (Erick) Aybar in the two hole, being a switch hitter.''

Inciarte, a center fielder who came to the Braves in the five-player trade that sent pitcher Shelby Miller to the Arizona Diamondbacks, was hitting .366 in 13 games before Thursday night.

''They told me they wanted to see how I did in the leadoff spot and they expected me to be the leadoff hitter, but it was not given,'' Inciarte said. ''I knew I had to prove I could lead off and hopefully stay consistent about it.''

He has walked only once this spring.

''But I can't go up to hit thinking I'm going to walk,'' he said. ''I'll walk whenever I have to walk, but if I get a good pitch to hit, I'm going to swing at it.''

Inciarte singled off Phillies pitcher Adam Morgan in the first, then dropped down a perfect bunt single with a man on base in the third.


Phillies: Morgan, competing with Vincent Velasquez for the fifth spot in the Phillies' rotation, gave up the two singles to Inciarte, walked one and struck out two in three innings.

Braves: Matt Wisler gave up two hits and a walk, and got Ryan Howard on a ground ball before the thunder and rain came in the fourth inning.


The Phillies, too, have found a leadoff hitter in second baseman Cesar Hernandez, who led off in 35 of the 93 games he started last season. ''He's probably the best one we've got right now,'' said manager Pete Mackanin. ''If he's swinging during the season like he is now, he'd be a good choice.'' Hernandez is batting .354 this spring and has walked six times.


Phillies: OF Odubel Herrera (sore left middle finger) was available as a pinch hitter Thursday night and will probably be in the lineup Friday, Mackanin said. Herrera last played on March 12.


Phillies: RHP Jeremy Hellickson, named Wednesday as the opening day starter, will pitch Saturday night against the Toronto Blue Jays in Clearwater.

Braves: RHP Julio Teheran will face the Houston Astros at Disney, and RHP will pitch against the Detroit Tigers in Lakeland on a split-squad day.