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

WASHINGTON (AP) The Atlanta Braves aren't exactly easing outfield prospect Mallex Smith into things.

Smith was recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett and immediately put in Atlanta's starting lineup to make his big league debut as the center fielder and leadoff hitter on Monday night against Max Scherzer and the Washington Nationals.

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

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

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.