Braves put new CF Mallex Smith in leadoff spot for MLB debut

WASHINGTON (AP) Atlanta Braves outfielder Mallex Smith had an eventful major league debut Monday night after being recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett, getting his first hit but leaving after getting cut on the face while being thrown out trying to steal second base.

In the fourth inning against the Washington Nationals, Smith was cut above the left eye when his batting helmet flew off, bounced off the turf and smacked him in the face as he slid on the attempted steal. Catcher Wilson Ramos threw him out.

Smith wound up needing five stitches.

''It probably looked worse than what it was,'' he said. ''I still haven't really felt too much pain. They numbed me up, got me some stitches. But I'm fine. I'll play with this seven days a week.''

The Braves listed Smith's status as day to day.

Atlanta did not exactly ease Smith into things when bringing him up from the minors. He immediately was put in the starting lineup as the center fielder and leadoff hitter against Max Scherzer and the Nationals.

''You don't bring a guy up - one of your top prospects in the minor leagues - and put him on the bench,'' Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said.

In his first at-bat, Smith struck out on three pitches.

But in his next trip up, in the second inning, he reached on an infield single and eventually came around to score his first MLB run.

In the fourth inning, he reached on a fielder's choice.

The 22-year-old Smith, who was at Double-A for part of last season, came up to replace Ender Inciarte, who is on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left hamstring.

''He can bring some excitement to the lineup,'' Gonzalez said about Smith. ''The confidence is off the charts. It's not like he's going to go 0 for 4 today against Scherzer and go back to the room and curl up in the closet and cry, or anything like that.''

In other moves Monday, the Braves put reliever Dan Winkler on the 15-day DL with a fractured right elbow, designated right-hander Jose Ramirez for assignment, and selected the contracts of righty Joel De La Cruz from Gwinnett and lefty Hunter Cervenka from Double-A Mississippi.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide—from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Andy Staples, Grant Wahl, and more—delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.