Braves’ Garcia looks sharp after 2 poor outings
KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) — Freddy Garcia bounced back from two rough outings, allowing two hits while pitching into the sixth inning Sunday as the Atlanta Braves beat a New York Mets’ split-squad 4-1 on Sunday.
Justin Upton homered for the Braves while Freddie Freeman and B.J. Upton each were 2 for 3 with an extra-base hit and a walk.
Garcia, bidding begin the season as the No. 3 starter in the Braves’ injury-depleted rotation, had allowed 10 runs over 6 2-3 innings in his previous two starts. But the veteran right-hander kept the Mets off balance with his assortment of pitches as he struck out four and walked one in 5 1-3 innings. He allowed an unearned run.
“My last couple of starts I don’t pitch that great, so I need to show I can get people out,” said the 37-year-old right-hander. “I skip one start. Now I’m refreshed.”
The Braves have to make a decision soon on Garcia, who can opt out of his minor league deal Tuesday if he isn’t guaranteed a spot on the 25-man roster.
Although manager Fredi Gonzalez praised Garcia’s outing, he remained noncommittal about his rotation past opening starter Julio Teheran.
“We’ve got a few days,” Gonzalez said.
Carlos Torres, who had allowed just one run in 10 innings, made his first start of the spring for the Mets, allowing six hits and two runs over four innings. The right-hander had four strikeouts and no walks.
Braves: Garcia changed speeds and was generally ahead in the count while throwing 52 of his 83 pitches for strikes.
“A little here, a little there. Took a little off, put a little on,” Gonzalez said of Garcia’s work. “Good outing by him.”
The Mets’ only two hits of the game were a double by Matt den Dekker in the third inning and a single by Omar Quintanilla in the fifth.
“I hit my spots,” Garcia said. “If I throw strikes, I can do something.”
Carlos Torres, who had allowed just one earned run in 10 innings, made his first start of the spring for the Mets. The right-hander allowed six hits and two runs over four innings, with four strikeouts and no walks.
The Braves officially put right-handers Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy on the DL. They will both miss the season after reconstructive elbow surgery. Also placed the DL retroactive to Friday were left-hander Mike Minor (shoulder tendinitis), right-hander Gavin Floyd (elbow) and lefty reliever Jonny Venters (elbow). Minor hopes to join the rotation by late April. Floyd is out until May and Venters is likely until June after both had surgery last year.
Braves reliever Jordan Walden, who has been sidelined with a sore hamstring since making his sixth appearance on March 15, threw a side session Sunday and could pitch Tuesday. The right-hander had back, shoulder and groin issues last year, when he was in 50 games and had a 3.45 ERA.
Second baseman Tyler Pastornicky, who had ACL knee surgery last August, showed he is physically ready to start the season when he made the defensive play of the game. He charged in to grab den Dekker’s seventh-inning drag bunt and flipped to first while hitting the ground to retire the Mets outfielder.
“That was a great play,” Gonzalez said.
Pastornicky didn’t make his spring debut until Friday, when he played five innings at second base against Baltimore. He was in for three innings against the Mets, moving to center field for the last two.