Until a five-run ninth inning in a 6-2 loss to the Mets – all charged to Atahualpa Severino - the Braves had a lot to be happy with from the pitching staff. Freddy Garcia pitched three more scoreless innings in his second start to keep him perfect over five innings. He has not allowed a baserunner this spring while striking out five.
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez commended Garcia, Craig Kimbrel, Jordan Walden and the usual suspects but made a point to single out non-roster invitee Gus Schlosser, who threw two scoreless innings to give him three shutout innings overall.
“Schlosser was really, really impressive,” Gonzalez said. “Every time you run him out there, he does a hell of a job and all of a sudden, you (start to think).”
The Braves have at least one bullpen spot up for grabs and Schlosser, the Mississippi Braves’ pitcher of the year in Double-A last year, is the first to really catch Gonzalez’s eye.
“We’ll see what happens,” Gonzalez said. “It’s still a long spring but he’s been really, really impressive.”
Garcia may end up claiming a bullpen spot as well, but for now he continues to impress in his bid for the fifth starter’s spot.
“I don’t want to take anything for granted; I want to show up and pitch and get people out,” said Garcia, who said he’s OK in the bullpen, if Alex Wood wins the starting job. “It doesn’t matter for me. If I’ll be on the team, that’s all that matters.”
Garcia topped out at 87 mph, which was a study in contrast to his counterpart, Mets right-hander Noah Syndergaard, the next hot hard-throwing Mets prospect on the cusp of the major leagues. Syndergaard was throwing mid-to-upper 90s and topped out at 98 mph on a fastball to strike out Jason Heyward to lead off the first inning. Even Kimbrel isn’t hitting upper 90s on the radar gun yet in spring.
“Gasolina,” said Garcia, smiling, when asked about Syndergaard’s fastball.
Injury updates: Wednesday will be a busy day for Braves pitchers making comebacks from injuries. Gavin Floyd is scheduled to face hitters in live batting practice Wednesday for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery last May with the White Sox. Also scheduled to throw live bp for the first time this spring is Luis Vasquez (strained latissimus muscle), the dynamic sidearmer signed as a minor league free agent from the Dominican Republic. Mike Minor is set to throw his first bullpen of the spring, after his progress was delayed by a surgical procedure on his urethra. And Jonny Venters will throw off the mound for the first time since he underwent Tommy John surgery last May.
Gerald Laird’s sore back is improving; and he plans to catch some bullpen sessions on Tuesday. He hasn’t played in a game since suffering back spasms in the first inning of the Braves game Wednesday in Lakeland.
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