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04/14/09 5:20 PM EST

Cantu out on Tuesday as hand heals

First baseman takes batting practice, could pinch-hit if needed

ATLANTA -- Arriving at Turner Field early on Tuesday afternoon, Jorge Cantu tested his bruised left hand by taking batting practice.

There was a lot of encouragement from the Marlins' slugger, but he still felt some discomfort while taking a swing. So rather than chance returning to the lineup for the series opener with the Braves, Cantu once again was out of the starting lineup.

However, he is hopeful to be ready to return on Wednesday. Also, Cantu said he feels he could pinch-hit on Tuesday.

"I wanted to test it to see if I could go today," Cantu said. "I still felt a little pinch at the end [of his practice swings]. I don't want to aggravate it any more because I know that I'm almost there."

That little pinch was enough reason to give the hand another day.

Last Wednesday, Cantu was plunked on the back of his last hand by a fastball thrown by Nationals right-hander Daniel Cabrera. The incident occurred in the fifth inning and he left the game an inning later. An X-ray came back negative, and no additional medical tests have been taken.

Cantu last played on Saturday night in an 8-4 loss to the Mets at Dolphin Stadium. The Florida first baseman and cleanup hitter went 1-for-5 with a single. But in that game, he jammed the same hand while playing first base. A runner banged into his glove, causing more discomfort.

"Bumped into the runner with my glove," Cantu said. "It jammed it pretty badly."

Cantu did not play against the Mets on Sunday, and the team was off on Monday, giving him two full days to ice and treat the hand.

Cantu is off to a good start. He went 7-for-19 (.368) on the homestand with two home runs and seven RBIs.

"He swung the bat earlier, and he's available to pinch-hit," manager Fredi Gonzalez said.

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.