Kris Medlen kept American League MVP Miguel Cabrera from hitting a homer and avoided injury. In his first start of spring training, the Braves’ eldest incumbent starting pitcher wasn’t expecting a lot more than that.
“Medlen was good,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said after a 5-2 Grapefruilt League loss to the Tigers on Thursday at Joker Marchant Stadium. “He was mixing his pitches well. He was solid.”
Medlen, who could be the Braves’ opening-day starter March 31 at Milwaukee, knows he will have about six more spring starts of increasing duration.
“There’s still a long way to go, but successful,” Medlen said of his first outing. “Miguel Cabrera didn’t take me deep, so that’s always a success.”
Staked to a 1-0 lead on Ryan Doumit’s two-out RBI triple in the first inning, Medlen gave up the tying run in the bottom of the first following a leadoff walk to Jose Iglesias. The runner advanced on a grounder and a wild pitch when catcher Gerald Laird, because of a stiffening back, was unable to get his mitt down in time. Cabrera drove in the run with a ground out.
Medlen gave up a leadoff single by Alex Avila in the second inning, and Francisco Martinez added a one-out single to put runners on first and second. Medlen got out of the inning with a pair of ground outs.
Laird update: The veteran catcher’s back spasmed when he swung during his at-bat in the top of the first inning, and he was replaced after telling Gonzalez about his condition following the bottom of the inning. Laird said he had a similar incident two years ago and believes he’ll be ready to play again after a day or two of rest and treatment.
With catcher Evan Gattis not on the trip — the regular infielders also didn’t travel — minor leaguers Jose Yepez and Steve Lerud handled the catching duties the rest of the way.
Etc.: Offseason trade acquisition Doumit impressed Gonzalez, going 2-for-3 and playing good defense in right field. The Braves’ only other hits were Jason Heyward’s third-inning homer and third-base prospect Edward Salcedo’s double off the left-center wall. … The Braves have lost their first two spring games, with non-roster pitchers getting both decisions. Wirfin Obispo gave up up two runs, three hits and a walk in the fifth inning Thursday, and Cody Martin gave up two runs, four hits and a walk in the eighth.