02/25/2013 6:43 PM ET
Medlen admits to butterflies under calm exterior
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Kris Medlen has never understood why he has been described as a fun-loving, unflappable individual who is never unnerved by any situation.
"Everyone is like, 'Kris walks around and he is all relaxed,'" Medlen said. "I'm like, 'No, I think I'm just deflecting how nervous I am by sitting and talking to whoever and about whatever else.'"
Medlen captured the attention of the baseball world when he went 9-0 with a 0.97 ERA in the 12 starts he made after moving from the bullpen to the rotation last year. That stands as the lowest ERA produced by any Major League pitcher with at least 12 starts in a season.
Still, he admits that before he made his Grapefruit League debut in Monday's 7-6 win over the Marlins, he was battling some nerves. He responded by extending his therapeutic practice of eating a peanut butter-and-honey sandwich before the game.
"First time every spring, you just get the nerves, because baseball is back," Medlen said. "You've thrown bullpens and live BPs, but it's not really the same."
Making his first appearance since taking the loss in last year's one-game Wild Card playoff, against the Cardinals, Medlen surrendered a pair of first-inning singles and then did not allow another hit in his two scoreless innings. He recorded a pair of strikeouts and threw 19 of his 31 pitches for strikes.
"I felt pretty good," he said. "I didn't throw many changeups. I threw more curveballs and fastballs more than anything. That's all I really focus on this early."
Chris Coghlan began the game by hitting a 2-0 fastball to right field for a single. Joe Mahoney added an infield single before Medlen escaped the first inning unscathed. Dan Uggla's inability to field Adeiny Hechavarria's grounder served as the second inning's only blemish.
If the Braves keep their projected starters on a strict schedule of pitching once every five days through the end of March, Medlen would be lined up to make the April 1 Opening Day start, against the Phillies. But he believes the honor should go to the veteran Tim Hudson.
"I haven't even done the math on that," he said. "I'm just going out there getting my job done and just trying to execute my pitches. I'm not worried about that at all. I said a couple of times that Huddy deserves it. He's our leader, and he's our guy."
No worries about Kimbrel at start of spring games
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- While pitching in foreign situations and strengthening their arms, baseball's most dominant closers often encounter some rough outings during the Grapefruit League season.
But it was still somewhat odd to see Craig Kimbrel allow a pair of hits and a run in the third inning of Monday's 7-6 win over the Marlins at Champion Stadium. The All-Star allowed just one hit and worked eight scoreless innings in Grapefruit League play last year.
"You don't worry about that stuff," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "You worry about them getting their arms in shape and getting ready for the season."
Kimbrel surrendered a ground-rule double to Chris Coghlan to begin the third inning and a two-out RBI single to Joe Mahoney. Still, his command was better than it was on Friday, when he issued a pair of walks in his Grapefruit League debut.
Kimbrel will make two more appearances before leaving camp on Sunday to compete with Team USA in the World Baseball Classic.
• Yohan Flande nearly made the Opening Day roster last year after allowing just one run in 12 1/3 Grapefruit League innings. But things might be different this year, as he allowed five earned runs and six hits in just one inning on Monday.
• Uggla has committed two errors through his first three games of the spring.
• Cristhian Martinez strengthened his position within the bullpen by throwing two scoreless innings on Monday.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.