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Braves pursue Kawakami, re-sign Infante

ATLANTA - Japanese all-star pitcher Kenshin Kawakami was in Atlanta on Monday for a physical needed to finalize an agreement with the Braves, according to a person with knowledge of the negotiations.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal was not yet final.

Kawakami, the 2004 Central League MVP, has won 112 games in 11 seasons in Japan and was regarded as one of the top free-agent pitchers from Japan available this offseason. The 33-year-old was 9-5 for the Chunichi Dragons last year, when he missed several weeks because of a back strain.

The 5-foot-10 right-hander would be an important addition to a Braves rotation that has lost John Smoltz and Mike Hampton to free agency and may be without Tim Hudson, who is recovering from elbow ligament replacement surgery.

Atlanta is monitoring Tom Glavine's attempt to return from elbow surgery, but Glavine remains unsigned.

Meanwhile, Omar Infante, who started 77 games at five positions for Atlanta last season, agreed Monday to a $4,325,000, two-year contract with the Braves.

The deal with the 27-year-old, who had been eligible for salary arbitration, includes a club option for 2011. Infante had been eligible for free agency after next season.

Infante hit .293 with 24 doubles, three home runs and 40 RBIs in 2008. He hit .341 with runners in scoring position.

The versatile Infante started 26 games at third base and 26 in left field. He also started at shortstop, second base and center field and appeared in 96 games.

Infante has a .260 career batting average with Detroit and Atlanta. He was traded from Detroit to the Chicago Cubs on Nov. 12, 2007, and the Cubs traded Infante and pitcher Will Ohman to the Braves less than one month later for pitcher Jose Ascanio.

Infante will get $1.85 million this year and $2,225,000 in 2010, and the Braves hold a $2.5 million option for 2011 with a $250,000 buyout. He can earn additional performance bonuses each year based on plate appearances from 180-580: $300,000 this year, $775,000 in 2010 and $1 million in 2011.