David Hale tabbed Braves’ fourth starter

David Hale got the official nod Saturday as the Braves’ fourth starter and is slated to start April 4 in Washington against Tanner Roark and the division-rival Nationals.

Hale had all of two starts’ worth of a head start on Gus Schlosser in terms of major league experience, but the Braves ultimately went with Hale’s repertoire in that role.

“We feel like David has got maybe some more weapons, with his repertoire at this point,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez. “We also feel like Schloss, with his sidearm, can help us get a ground ball in certain situations.”

Hale impressed in his first two major league starts last season, allowing only one run in 13 innings against the Padres and the Phillies. He struck out 14 and walked one.

The Braves will open the season with four starters who have a combined 366 major league starts — but 319 of those are from journeyman Aaron Harang. They’ll go with Julio Teheran (34) on opening day Monday in Milwaukee, followed by Alex Wood (11), Harang and Hale (2).

Ervin Santana will open the season at Triple-A Gwinnett stretching out to join the Braves rotation the first time they need a fifth starter, around April 12.

Schlosser was named to his first major league roster as the long man out of the Braves’ bullpen. Schlosser, 25, won pitcher of the year at Double-A Mississippi and Single-A Lynchburg in his previous two minor league stops. He opened eyes this spring by going 0-2 with a 2.03 ERA over five games, including two starts. He allowed four runs (three earned) in 13 1/3 innings with five walks and 13 strikeouts.

Ian Thomas and Ryan Buchter made the roster as left-handed relievers. Buchter was recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett to claim the spot vacated by Cory Gearrin after an MRI revealed elbow-ligament damage. Gearrin will open the season on the disabled list.

Gearrin to see Andrews: The epidemic of elbow-ligament tears claimed another Braves victim, as general manager Frank Wren announced an MRI revealed Gearrin's injury includes "ligament involvement." He will get a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews next week, but it appears Tommy John surgery is a likelihood for Gearrin, who would become the third Brave to undergo the season-ending procedure this spring, along with Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy.

“We’ve kind of eaten through our depth,” Wren said. “It looked like we were in pretty good shape coming into spring training with some guys about to get healthy, and all of a sudden the next thing you know we’re pretty thin. We still have three more guys we’re hoping to get activated in the next three to four weeks to get back to full strength.”

Wren referred to Santana, Mike Minor and Gavin Floyd, who are expected to join the Braves’ rotation in mid-to-late April. Wren indicated the Braves have continued to look outside the organization for pitching depth, but unless something changes, plan to start the season with the pitchers they have.

“We have been watching very closely other moves to see if there was someone who could upgrade us or someone who could help us,” Wren said. “And we haven’t seen anyone we felt were better than the pitchers we have.”

Notable: Rain limited Minor's first game action this spring to only 1 1/3 innings in a 13-4 loss to the "Future Stars," but he was sharp. He threw 11 of his 14 pitches for strikes and retired the four batters he faced, three on ground balls. Minor and Floyd will head out on minor league rehabilitation assignments to build up to about 100 pitches. They're on track to join the Braves rotation around April 26- 27.