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Braves' search for a leadoff man continues

The SportsXchange

Unless Santa Claus brings a surprise on Christmas morning, Frank Wren's wish list won't have everything checked off.

The Atlanta Braves general manager badly wanted a new leadoff hitter to replace Michael Bourn and play left field. However, now it looks as if he will have to wait until at least after New Year's Day, and he may not get one at all.

Wren has explored trade and free agent options. So far, nothing has been a match.

The Braves missed out on a deal for Shin-Soo Choo after earlier failing to land either Denard Span or Ben Revere in trades. Shane Victorino's price tag as a free agent was too high.

Wren certainly hasn't given up, with the Toronto Blue Jays' Emilio Bonafacio still his top target. Still, it is looking more and more likely that the Braves could go into the season without an addition to put at the top of the lineup.

"Can we get better? Sure," Wren said. "But we also feel like we can be very competitive the way we are."

Wren hoped to move Martin Prado to third base full time as the replacement for the retired Chipper Jones. Now Prado may have to shuttle between third and left field.

When Prado plays left, Juan Francisco could man third base. When Prado plays third, that could open up left for Reed Johnson or possibly Jose Constanza.

Johnson, who thrives against lefty pitchers, or the left-handed-hitting Constanza are leadoff candidates. The best internal choice to hit at the top of the order when Prado is in left field would appear to be young shortstop Andrelton Simmons.

Wren wanted a more settled lineup for 2013, but you can't always get everything you want.

New center fielder B.J. Upton isn't a leadoff hitter, but he brings right-handed pop to the middle of the lineup.
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