McLouth cleared to play Opening Day

McLouth cleared to play Opening Day

ATLANTA -- It looks like all systems go for Nate McLouth.

McLouth, the Braves' projected everyday center fielder, has been hampered by a right hamstring strain throughout Spring Training, but was given the green light for Opening Day by manager Bobby Cox after participating in the team's workout Sunday afternoon.

Atlanta opens its 2010 season Monday afternoon against the Cubs at Turner Field.

McLouth, who will be Atlanta's third different Opening Day center fielder since 2008 following the departure of Andruw Jones, who manned center field for a decade. Mark Kotsay started in '08 and Jordan Schafer was in center last season.

"He feels he can go," Cox said after the hour-long workout. "His range of motion was good, everything was good."

McLouth, who will bat eighth, missed 11 games during the spring because of the injury and was scratched from the final two exhibition games against the White Sox as a precaution after he'd complained of tightness in his right hamstring. He struggled at the plate during the spring, batting only .118, but bounced back from a 1-for-38 start, and appeared to have found his stroke, recording five hits in his final 13 at-bats before Friday's setback.

In 84 games for Atlanta last season, McLouth hit .257 with 11 homers and 36 RBIs, with 12 stolen bases in 18 tries, while playing Gold Glove-caliber defense (a .995 fielding percentage). But he also missed 17 games with a left hamstring strain.

"He did everything. He's fine," said Cox. "If he's not, we'll go to Plan B [on Monday]."

That would be Melky Cabrera, who hit .286 during the Spring and hit in the leadoff spot and patrolled center field in the two-game exhibition series with the White Sox.

Jon Cooper is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.