03/12/2013 5:34 PM ET
Pena returns from Classic with spot solidified
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- When the Braves signed Ramiro Pena in December, the assumption was that he would begin this upcoming season as one of Atlanta's backup infielders. Pena has since solidified his spot on the Opening Day roster.
Pena impressed the Braves during the early days of Spring Training before further flashing his potential while playing for Mexico in the World Baseball Classic. The sure-handed infielder recorded three doubles in 13 at-bats during the Classic.
"This was the first time to represent my country," Pena said. "I liked that experience."
Still energized by his experience in the Classic, Pena returned to the Braves lineup as the starting shortstop for Tuesday's game against the Cardinals and went 1-for-2 with a double. The former Yankees prospect is a solid middle infielder who can also play the outfield in emergency situations.
Pena was fortunate to avoid any potential injuries during the benches-clearing brawl that marred Mexico's game against Canada on Saturday.
"It's part of baseball," Pena said. "You have to be there and see what happens. I tried to hold everybody back. Where I was, nobody was throwing punches."
Teheran showing promise with revamped arsenal
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Julio Teheran is certainly not the same pitcher who compiled a 9.37 ERA during Spring Training last year. The highly regarded Braves pitching prospect has developed into a much more complete and polished pitcher who appears ready to assume his role as Atlanta's fifth starter.
Teheran took another step toward cementing his place in Atlanta's rotation by holding the Cardinals hitless over five scoreless innings in Tuesday's 12-3 win at Champion Stadium. The 22-year-old right-hander has allowed two runs and four hits while recording 18 strikeouts in 18 innings since the start of the spring slate.
"Julio has got some weapons," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "The more he goes out there, the more he is impressing me with his changeup and two-seamer that comes back on the lefties."
The sinking two-seam fastball appears to be the most influential addition to the enhanced arsenal utilized by Teheran, who had little more than a four-seam fastball to rely on at this time last year. "He pitched with his [four-seam] fastball and occasionally had a good curveball," Gonzalez said. "Now he's got the two fastballs -- the two-seamer and the four-seamer. He's got the curveball. The changeup is in there, and his slider is working well."
Teheran will make three more starts this spring. Barring any unforeseen developments, he will join Tim Hudson, Kris Medlen, Mike Minor and Paul Maholm in Atlanta's starting rotation at the start of the regular season.
O'Flaherty logs scoreless inning in spring debut
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Eric O'Flaherty might not have been graceful after fielding a swinging bunt during the sixth inning of the Braves' 12-3 win over the Cardinals on Tuesday at Champion Stadium. But the left-handed setup man certainly looked healthy while completing a scoreless inning in his Spring Training debut.
"It was exciting to be back out there to feel like I am part of the team again," said O'Flaherty, who was shut down during the early portion of Spring Training with a strained left groin.
O'Flaherty was tested as Adron Chambers began the sixth inning with a single up the middle, and Daniel Descalso followed with a soft single that trickled down the first-base line. After fielding the ball, the Braves reliever lost his footing on the wet grass and made an errant, off-balance throw that sailed just beyond the first-base bag.
"I'm just glad half the team was gone by the time I did it," he said. "Hopefully they won't go in the video room tomorrow to see it."
O'Flaherty used a strikeout of Allen Craig and some defensive assistance to prevent the Cardinals from scoring after putting runners on the corners with no outs. Catcher Gerald Laird blocked the plate to prevent Chambers from scoring on a delayed double steal. Center fielder Jordan Schafer ended the inning by racing to the warning track to make an over-the-shoulder catch of Ty Wigginton's long drive.
Aided by the week added to the spring slate because of the World Baseball Classic, O'Flaherty expects to appear in at least eight games before the start of the regular season. He has not appeared in more than 10 games before any of the past three seasons.
"We're here a long time this year and we've got a long time," O'Flaherty said. "So it's not going to really change anything."
Shoulder feeling better, Heyward back in lineup
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez opted not to take any chances when Jason Heyward arrived at Champion Stadium on Monday morning and revealed his right shoulder was a little sore and tight.
But after missing Monday's game against the Nationals, Heyward was back in the Braves starting lineup for Tuesday afternoon's game against the Cardinals. The 23-year-old right fielder started to feel some shoulder discomfort after diving headfirst to make a catch on Sunday.
Heyward went 1-for-2 with a double before exiting Tuesday's 12-3 win after the third inning. Gonzalez removed each of his starting outfielders at that point because they are scheduled to play in four consecutive games through Thursday.
"Today feels even better than it did yesterday," Heyward said Tuesday. "I could have played yesterday. We were just making sure."
After receiving treatment on Monday, Heyward took batting practice without experiencing any problems. When he returned to the ballpark on Tuesday morning, he once again took some swings and was pain-free.
• Brandon Beachy, who is recovering from Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery, has thrown off the mound seven times with restricted effort over that past two weeks. Beachy is still hoping to return to Atlanta's rotation in late June.
Beachy described the effort he is using while throwing off the mound by saying, "High schoolers would enjoy hitting off me right now."
• Ten players were affected by Braves' first round of cuts on Tuesday. Right-handed pitcher Cory Rasmus was optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett. Right-handed pitchers Juan Jaime and Aaron Northcraft were optioned to Double-A Mississippi.
• Non-roster invitees reassigned to Minor League camp were left-handed pitchers Ryan Buchter and Yohan Flande; right-handed pitcher Gus Schlosser; infielder Joe Leonard; catchers Luis De La Cruz, Braeden Schlehuber and Jose Yepez.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.