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Braves looking at Wednesday for Santana's debut

WASHINGTON -- Ervin Santana will make his Braves debut next week as long as he gets through the side session he is scheduled to complete on Sunday or Monday. Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez said he is still leaning toward sending Santana to the mound to start Wednesday's game against the Mets.

"We've got really high hopes that [on Wednesday], we can pencil him in there," Gonzalez said.

Santana remained a free agent until the Braves signed him to a one-year, $14.1 million contract on March 12 -- two days after Atlanta had lost Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy to season-ending elbow injuries within a 24-hour span.

Santana's lengthy stint on the free-agent market put him slightly behind schedule. But the 31-year-old right-hander has made up for lost time over the past couple of weeks. He allowed six runs -- five earned -- and eight hits in 5 1/3 innings for Triple-A Gwinnett in Friday night's game against Durham.

After holding Durham scoreless through the first three innings, Santana allowed at least one run in each of the final three innings in which he appeared. Durham's three-run sixth inning was aided by errors charged to right fielder Joey Terdoslavich and second baseman Tommy La Stella.

"[Santana] pitched better than the numbers show," Gonzalez said. "The reports showed there were some plays that could have been made, or were close plays."

Mark Bowman is a reporter for
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