03/08/2013 6:03 PM ET
Medlen working on fastball command at this stage
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Kris Medlen proved to be quite efficient as he needed just 49 pitches to complete four innings in Friday's 7-1 split-squad loss to the Blue Jays at Champion Stadium. But while surrendering three runs and five hits in the process, the Braves right-hander found many of his mistakes to be unforgiving.
"When I left the ball over the plate, it got smacked to right-center and smacked to right," Medlen said. "They were putting some pretty good swings on the pitches I left over the plate. The second time through, I started mixing some more offspeed pitches, which I think helped. My fastball command today was probably five or six inches higher than I wanted it and more over the plate than I wanted."
Medlen's primary nemesis was leadoff hitter Anthony Gose, who hit a two-run home run in the third inning and began his three-hit performance with a first-inning single that helped put him in position to score on Ryan Langerhans' one-out single through the right side of the infield.
"I try to throw an excessive amount of fastballs [during the exhibition season]," Medlen said. "But if I get teed off on like I was today, I've got to mix some stuff in. I try to throw 70 percent fastballs. I pitch off my fastball and work on location. When it's there, it's there. When it's not, I still try to go there even though I'm getting hit around a little bit. I still try to find it in my head and sync it up with my body to get those pitches done when I need them. Sometimes, they are just too good of pitches to hit."
In other words, Medlen is just one of many Major League pitchers who understand they still have some work to do before the regular season begins in three weeks. The right-hander's focus during his final four spring starts will be to find more consistency with his fastball and offspeed pitches.
"You've got to find what works and try to make the adjustments," Medlen said. "Sometimes, it doesn't happen. In the regular season, you've been throwing a lot more and you know how to make those adjustments. Now, there is still a little bit of rust you need to knock off."
Medlen has allowed four runs and eight hits -- two home runs -- in the nine innings he has completed through his first three starts of the Grapefruit League season. While these are not numbers expected from a guy who posted a 0.97 ERA in 12 starts last year, they are also not cause for alarm at this point of the exhibition season.
"He's fine," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "Five days he'll go back out there and continue extending his pitch count."
Ripken interested to see Uptons play together
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Having played a portion of his Hall of Fame career with his brother, Cal Ripken Jr. is looking forward to seeing B.J. Upton and Justin Upton play for the Braves over the course of the next few years.
"I think there could be some inter-team competition with them, which I think will be really healthy," said Ripken, who played with his brother, Billy, in Baltimore from 1987-92 and in '96. "The game gets so long with 162 games, a lot of times you have to find different forms of motivation because there are so many ups and downs.
"It's not going to be about who can one up each other. But because they know each other so well, I think that will help some of those days when it is difficult to show up. I love the dynamic and I'm very curious and very interested to watch the Braves more because of the brothers."
While Ripken is admittedly less familiar with Justin Upton, he has grown to be a big fan of the athleticism B.J. Upton is expected to bring the Braves in center field.
"They're two talented players," Ripken said. "B.J. Upton to me is one of the most talented center fielders in the game. When he played shallow, I loved his aggressiveness and his angles to the ball. To me, in my era, he reminds me of Devon White. Devon White would take a good angle and cruise with ease to balls that other people wouldn't catch."
Ripken was at Champion Stadium on Friday to promote his latest book "Wild Pitch" -- the third installment of fictional novels centered on a youth baseball team. The Hall of Fame shortstop's motivation behind writing the books is to help children deal with societal issues they could encounter while playing baseball.
"I love communicating with kids and talking about certain social issues and values and propositions," Ripken said. "A lot of times, the written word is a good way to drive the message home because it's not about you. It almost seems like it depersonalizes some of these issues so that you can understand them."
• Evan Gattis homered and doubled while recording three hits in Friday's 14-9 split-squad win over the Astros at Osceola County Stadium. Gattis, who is a top candidate to win one of final available roster spots, has batted .440 (11-for-25) with two home runs and three doubles during the Grapefruit League season.
• Cory Gearrin tossed a scoreless inning against the Astros on Friday to improve his bid to win an Opening Day spot in Atlanta's bullpen. Gearrin has surrendered three hits while working five scoreless innings since the start of the exhibition season.
• Gonzalez said this year's first round of cuts could come during the early portion of next week.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.