Grilli enjoys first clean inning of spring

LAKE BUENA VISTA — Continuing a steady climb back from last season’s torn Achilles, Jason Grilli had his best inning of the spring Sunday against Detroit.

One perfect inning, one strikeout, no ball making it out of the infield. The upward trend continued from the simulated game in which he was hit hard by friendly bats, to the first outing of spring in which he gave up a two-run home run and now to Sunday’s uneventful, efficient work at the tail end of the Braves 8-2 spring loss to the Tigers.

“I’m excited,” said Grilli, bidding at the age of 39 to regain his closer’s status. “Things are progressing as I expected. I just want to get a little more feel for some things. I’ve probably got four or five more outings. I’m right on track. I don’t want to do too much but in the same sense I’m trying to amp things up the best I can in all facets.”

“Much cleaner,” was manager Fredi Gonzalez’s review of Grilli’s most recent work.

Then he took to his role of dugout psychologist.

“Maybe physically he’s ready to go,” Gonzalez said, “but mentally you got to believe that you can hold up like any other injury. Doesn’t matter if it’s Tommy John or shoulder or Achilles. You don’t quite trust it until you trust it. I think the more he goes out there and the more he goes about his business the more he’ll keep progressing.”

Having returned from both knee and elbow surgeries in the past, Grilli has a hard-won feel for this rehab business. “I’ve done this comeback thing so many times I know what to expect out of myself,” he said. Sunday, he believed he was right on his personal schedule.