Gohara at least a week behind, but Braves won’t need 5th starter early

Luiz Gohara’s strained groin already has put the hefty left-hander at least a week behind other Braves pitchers, and it’s uncertain when the rookie will make his spring-training debut.

Manager Brian Snitker said Saturday that the Braves plan to start Julio Teheran on Monday against the Nationals, Mike Foltynewicz on Tuesday against the Pirates and Brandon McCarthy on Wednesday against the Mets in the first three home games at Champion Stadium in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

The Braves played the second of three consecutive road games to start the spring schedule Saturday against the Astros, with Sean Newcomb starting.

“(Gohara) still has got to get on the mound and do some sides and all that kind of stuff,” Snitker said. “He’s getting better, but we’ll just kind of play it by ear.”

Gohara came to camp as a leading contender for one of the two available spots in the starting rotation behind Teheran, Foltynewicz and McCarthy. Gohara’s chief competition is expected to come from fellow young lefties Newcomb and rookie Max Fried.

The Braves have other starting options, including Scott Kazmir, a three-time former All-Star who missed all of last season with the Dodgers because of injuries. Kazmir will start Sunday against the Nationals.

Because there are two scheduled days off in the first eight days of the Braves’ regular-season schedule, they wouldn’t need a fifth starter until April 11 at Washington in the 12th game of the season. Four starters could work on regular rest through the first 11 games.

The Braves open at home with a three-game series March 29-31 against the Phillies, then have Sunday (April 1) off before a three-game home series against the Nationals on April 2-4. They open a nine-game, 10-day trip April 6 at Colorado, a long, potentially cold trip that includes three games apiece against the Rockies, Nationals and Cubs.

When asked if Gohara were perhaps a week behind, Snitker said Saturday, “I wouldn’t doubt if it’s even more. Because he’s a week behind right now. But the good thing is it’s not his arm, so he’s still throwing, playing catch. Again, just got to get him some side (sessions) and live (batting practice) and stuff like that before we get him out there in a game. But he’s getting better. It’s a day-to-day thing pretty much.”

Gohara hasn’t been cleared to pitch off a mound yet because of the strained groin, which he injured at some point in the first days of spring training last week, Snitker said. He didn’t come to camp injured, based on what pitching coach Chuck Hernandez reported to Snitker.

“Chuck mentioned when he was doing the (early) drills that he was bouncing around pretty good.” Snitker said. “I know he had a rough winter with family, but he said, hell, he had to have been doing something (conditioning) because he was doing all the drills and running and all that was fine. Then just, I guess, tweaked something a little bit.”