03/13/2013 10:40 PM ET
Walden could return to spring game action soon
By Matthew Leach / MLB.com
JUPITER, Fla. -- Braves reliever Jordan Walden is making good progress in his recovery from back discomfort.
Walden, whose only game appearance so far this spring came on Feb. 23, threw off a mound on Tuesday, according to manager Fredi Gonzalez. The right-hander threw about 20 pitches, and Gonzalez said he felt fine on Wednesday before the team headed south for its games in Jupiter.
Walden will likely throw again on Thursday or Friday, and after that, the Braves could begin looking for a game appearance for him. Walden, 25, was acquired from the Angels in exchange for Tommy Hanson over the winter. Walden projects as one of Atlanta's top right-handed setup men.
Medlen downplays being hit by second liner
JUPITER, Fla. -- Braves starter Kris Medlen left Wednesday's 2-1 win over the Marlins after being hit in the right arm by a line drive. It was the second time in the game that Medlen was hit by a batted ball. He and manager Fredi Gonzalez both downplayed the contact, and Medlen believes he can make his next scheduled start.
With two outs in the fifth inning, Casey Kotchman hit a ball up the middle that struck Medlen on the back his pitching arm, near the triceps. He immediately left the game, though he remained in the dugout until the inning was over before heading to the visiting clubhouse at Roger Dean Stadium. Jonny Venters took over for Medlen, getting Chris Valaika to ground out to end the inning.
"I feel fine," Medlen said in the clubhouse. "It started to tighten up a little bit after I iced it the first time. ... It's tightening up a tad bit, but I don't expect any changes in scheduling or anything like that."
Medlen had been breezing before his last batter, allowing two singles over 4 2/3 shutout innings. The only two base hits both hit him, with Rob Brantly singling on a ball that struck his left foot in the fourth.
He would have left the game at the end of the fifth inning regardless, so the comebacker shortened Medlen's outing by only a little bit.
"He had one more out, so there was no sense messing around," Gonzalez said. "He was really sharp. I think we dodged a bullet there."
Johnson-Francisco platoon a possibility for Braves
JUPITER, Fla. -- As the Braves attempt to sort out their third-base situation, a regular-season job share remains a possibility.
Chris Johnson and Juan Francisco have both hit well so far this spring, and manager Fredi Gonzalez said he views them as similarly capable defensive players. They're actually somewhat similar offensive players as well -- each has some ability to hit for power, but neither is a high on-base percentage hitter.
With Johnson a right-handed hitter and Francisco a lefty, Gonzalez said he's open to the idea of platooning the two.
"They're both playing good baseball," Gonzalez said. "They're both hitting the ball. It's a good combination."
Francisco is younger and has more power potential, having topped 20 home runs in four straight Minor League seasons. Johnson has more big league experience and is coming off a season in which he played nearly full-time for the Astros and D-backs.
"If one is hitting .400 and one is hitting .050, then it's an easy decision," Gonzalez said. "If it's competitive, it's going to be one of those meetings for five hours to see what we come up with [as] the best solution. But I don't think there is any down side really, for me.
"We could platoon them. Or if somebody wins the job, that means that guy, whoever is doing it, is doing a pretty good job."
Fredi fine with Kimbrel's Classic workload
JUPITER, Fla. -- Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez has no complaints with the amount of work that his closer, Craig Kimbrel, has gotten in the World Baseball Classic so far.
Kimbrel is the closer for Team USA in the Classic, though he hasn't had a save opportunity yet. He finished off Tuesday night's win over Puerto Rico with a shutout inning in which he allowed one hit.
"He hasn't pitched much, really," Gonzalez said. "You want him to pitch. He's probably gotten the same amount of work at this point as if he'd stayed here, whether he'd gone to the WBC. Which is fine."
Kimbrel, 24, struck out 116 batters in 62 2/3 innings in 2012, and he has led the National League in saves in each of the past two seasons.
• Catcher Matt Kennelly had a "blood blister" on his right hand, but nothing more serious after being hit by a pitch when he tried to bunt on Wednesday night, manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
• Outfielders Jason Heyward, B.J. Upton, Justin Upton, and Reed Johnson, catcher Gerald Laird and pitchers Kris Medlen and Jonny Venters, were among the players scheduled to head back to Orlando rather than staying for the Braves' game Thursday against the Cardinals.
• Former NFL coach Bill Parcells and former NFL general manager Ron Wolf visited with the Braves prior to Wednesday night's game. Both men are residents of Palm Beach County.
Matthew Leach is a writer for MLB.com. Read his blog, Obviously, You're Not a Golfer and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewHLeach. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.