Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Brandon Beachy throws in the first inning of a spring exhibition baseball game against the Houston Astros, Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, in Kissimmee, Fla. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Photo: Alex Brandon
Photo: Alex Brandon

Rough debut for Beachy, who’s thinking big picture

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – After enduring two elbow surgeries in 15 months, Braves pitcher Brandon Beachy entered spring training with a plan to ease back and not let pride or ego get in the way of the bigger purpose, staying healthy and building toward the regular season.

That said, it wasn’t enjoyable giving up five hits and two runs while recording five outs against the Astros in a 7-5 loss in his first spring-training start Friday night. Beachy had one strikeout and one walk while throwing 43 pitches in 1-2/3 innings, and left trailing 2-1.

“Yeah, it’s not going to be easy,” he said of being patient and controlling his effort early. “I mean, I don’t like giving up hits and runs. That’s not fun. But I’m trying to have a big-picture mentality.

“At least for the first few, I’m going to be more concerned with (how it feels) tomorrow morning than anything that happens on the field tonight. So we’ll see tomorrow morning. I’m pretty optimistic.”

Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez was glad to hear of Beachy’s comments and said he hoped he would remain patient and keep in mind the big picture.

“I hope so, because we are,” Gonzalez said. “We know how special a guy he is. Sometimes he gets impatient with himself. He’s a perfectionist. Hopefully he keeps that mindset of, it’s the bigger picture. Because we surely are.”

Beachy last pitched in a game Aug. 20 against the Mets, his fifth start after coming back from May 2012 Tommy John surgery. After going 2-1 with a 4.50 ERA in those five games, he was shut down due to lingering elbow soreness and inflammation. An MRI showed a small fragment – Beachy said it was bone chip — which was removed through arthroscopic surgery in September.

He didn’t throw as many breaking balls Friday as he will later, and fastball was clocked at 89-91 mph, several ticks below pre-surgery velocity. Beachy, 27, said even if he weren’t coming back from surgery, he wouldn’t be throwing at maximum velocity this early. Not anymore.

“Yeah, I did that a couple of years ago. That wasn’t very smart,” he said. “So even if I was coming off four healthy seasons in a row, I think it would be smart to not worry about velocity at this time…. I’d like to think I can throw harder than I did tonight. But it’s early. Hopefully by the end of (March) I’ll be throwing harder than tonight, ready to go in April.”

Beachy was asked whether going through the rehab process last year would help him now.

“I wish,” he said. “I’m just going to keep going out there and keep doing what the training staff tells me to do. I feel pretty confident in the way I’ve been feeling and the way I’m going to feel. I’ve got April and October in mind, not today, I guess.”

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