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Braves release veteran lefty Wandy Rodriguez

SARASOTA, Fla. – The Braves released veteran left-hander Wandy Rodriguez on Friday and named lefty Eric Stults as their fourth starter, a job that Rodriguez was in line for just a couple of weeks ago.

Rodriguez and Stults both were on minor league contracts with non-roster invitations to spring training, and Rodriguez would’ve made $2 million if he was on the opening-day roster.

Stults gets a $2 million salary for making the opening-day roster. He’ll start the April 10 home opener against the Mets, the fourth game of the season.

Trevor Cahill, the right-hander acquired from Arizona in a Thursday trade, will be the No. 5 starter and pitch out of the bullpen until his first start April 15 against the Marlins, the first time the Braves need a fifth starter.

“Really tough,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said of the Stults-Rodriguez decision. “(Rodriguez) pitched really well. We made that trade last night, got Cahill, and it was still a tough decision. But they both pitched well. I don’t think you could have gone wrong with either of them. We decided to go with Stults.”

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Two weeks ago, Gonzalez said Rodriguez would likely be the fourth starter, after he pitched five hitless innings in a game against the Marlins to run his scoreless-innings streak to 12.

But after Rodriguez was roughed up for 16 hits and seven runs in 10 innings over his two starts since, the Braves decided not to go with the 36-year-old former Astros and Pirates lefty, who was limited to 18 starts over the past two seasons due to injuries.

Rodriguez had a 3.13 ERA and .250 opponents’ average in six starts this spring, allowing 22 hits and eight walks with 23 strikeouts in 23 innings. Stults has a 1.89 ERA and .250 opponents’ average in five games (one start) entering Saturday’s Grapefruit League finale against the Orioles, when he’ll start after originally being scheduled to “piggyback” and pitch in relief of Mike Foltynewicz.

The Braves have Julio Teheran, Alex Wood and Shelby Miller in the first three spots in their rotation.

Rodriguez had an opt-out clause in his contract that would’ve allowed him to become a free agent Friday if he wasn’t going to make the team.

Also Friday, the Braves released veteran catcher Jesus Flores and reassigned pitcher Chien-Ming Wang to minor league camp.

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