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Braves' Gavin Floyd comes off DL, to make first start Tuesday as fill-in for injured Santana

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ATLANTA - Right-hander Gavin Floyd was activated from the disabled list on Sunday and will start on Tuesday against St. Louis as a replacement for Ervin Santana, who has swelling below his right thumb.

Santana, a right-hander, said he jammed the thumb on an inside pitch from Cincinnati's Homer Bailey on April 25. He said the thumb felt fine after that game. He said he had swelling on his hand below the thumb in his last start against the Marlins on Wednesday.

Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said Santana is expected to miss only one start. Gonzalez said he tentatively expects Santana to start on Saturday against the Cubs.

Santana said the swelling is improving each day. He said he's never had a similar injury.

"No, this is my first time hitting," he said with a smile. Santana played in the American League with the Angels and Kansas City before signing a one-year deal with the Braves.

Santana, 3-0 with a 2.41 ERA, had a light wrap on his right hand on Sunday.

The Braves optioned left-handed reliever Ian Thomas to Triple-A Gwinnett, clearing a roster spot for Floyd.

Santana's injury temporarily clears a spot for Floyd in the rotation. When Santana returns, Gonzalez faces another difficult decision only days after moving David Hale to the bullpen to clear a rotation spot for left-hander Mike Minor.

"We always talk about how it will take care of itself," Gonzalez said. "It will take care of itself for a week, and then we'll make a decision. We're not going to go with a six-man rotation."

Floyd signed a one-year, $4 million deal with the Braves in December after his 2013 season with the White Sox was shorted by an elbow injury. He had surgery last May to repair the ulnar collateral ligament and a torn flexor muscle in his right elbow.

At the time of the surgery, there were projections that Floyd's rehabilitation would last longer than a year.

"I just went out and did all the work I had to do and did all the things I could," Floyd said. "A year later, I'm active and healthy and real happy about that.

"I'm excited about pitching and excited to get out there Tuesday and after that what happens will be dealt with."

The rotation includes Santana, Minor, Julio Teheran, Alex Wood and Aaron Harang.

Gonzalez said this week he doesn't want to move Wood, a left-hander, to the bullpen — at least not immediately. Gonzalez kept that option open for later in the season as the team might need to limit Wood's innings.

Harang had the NL's best ERA before giving up nine runs in a loss to the Marlins in his last start.

Floyd, 31, has a 70-70 career record with Philadelphia and the White Sox. His best season came in 2008, when he was 17-8 with a 3.84 ERA with Chicago. He hasn't won more than 12 games or had an ERA under 4.00 since 2008.

Thomas was 1-1 with a 4.26 ERA in 10 games. Gonzalez said he wants Floyd to work as a starter at Gwinnett so he can develop his slider.

"It's hard to work on your secondary pitches when it's second and third and you're facing Bryce Harper," Gonzalez said, referring to the typical situation Thomas faces as a reliever in the major leagues.

The move leaves Luis Avilan as the Braves' only left-handed reliever. Avilan is 3-1 with a 7.04 ERA.

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