3/11/2014 6:05 P.M. ET
Teheran emerging as favorite for Opening Day start
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- With Kris Medlen, Brandon Beachy and Mike Minor all likely destined to begin the regular season on the disabled list, Julio Teheran now stands as the most likely candidate to serve as Atlanta's Opening Day starter on March 31 in Milwaukee.
Teheran did nothing but strengthen his candidacy on Tuesday, impressing over four perfect innings during a 9-1 win over the Phillies. After exiting the stellar 49-pitch effort, the 23-year-old right-hander said he is hoping to gain the honor of starting the regular season's first game.
"I think I'm ready," Teheran said. "I've just been working and trying to command [my pitches]. If I've got to pitch the first game, that's something I want to do. That's my goal."
Teheran, who went 14-8 with a 3.20 in the 30 starts he made as a rookie last year, has not allowed a run in the nine innings he has compiled during his first three starts this spring. On Tuesday, he displayed better command of his slider and said he had a better feel for his changeup.
"I don't know how many runs he's given up," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "You just look at the performance and the quality of starts, and you're happy with it."
If Teheran is indeed named the Opening Day starter, the Braves will likely have to adjust their exhibition season rotation plans to get him lined up for March 31. Freddy Garcia and Alex Wood currently stand as the only other potential candidates to start the season opener.
Beachy to miss start with arm tightness
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez confirmed on Tuesday that Brandon Beachy will not make his next scheduled Grapefruit League start. Beachy exited Monday's start against the Phillies after grueling through two innings during which he was burdened by tightness around his right elbow and biceps muscle.
The Braves remain hopeful that Beachy is simply dealing with normal soreness as he attempts to come back from the two elbow surgeries (Tommy John in 2012 and a cleanup procedure in September) he has undergone in the past 20 months.
But Gonzalez said the team's medical staff would continue to evaluate Beachy over the next few days.
With Beachy, Kris Medlen and Mike Minor likely to begin the season on the disabled list, the Braves could start off with a rotation that consists of Julio Teheran, Alex Wood, Freddy Garcia and David Hale. A four-man rotation could be utilized through the regular season's first 10 games.
There is a chance Minor could be ready when the Braves would need to go to a five-man rotation. The southpaw has completed three bullpen sessions over the past week, and he hasn't been bothered by the left shoulder soreness that plagued him during the early days of camp. But given that Wood has not yet thrown a live batting-practice session, it is not clear when he might make his first spring start.
Gonzalez said the club is planning to give Gavin Floyd a start, possibly in a Minor League Spring Training game, before the end of this month. Floyd has made steady progress as he attempts to return from the Tommy John surgery he underwent 10 months ago.
Braves general manager Frank Wren said he does not expect Floyd to be ready to join Atlanta's rotation before the early part of May.
Uggla's emphasis on spring at-bats paying off
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Coming off two frustration-filled seasons that have created doubt about his future, Dan Uggla is treating this year's Spring Training different than most he has experienced since he established himself as a Major Leaguer.
"I never had to worry about it, because I knew I was going to end up with 30 homers and 90 to 100 RBIs," Uggla said. "The last two years didn't turn out like that. In 2012, it started out like it was going to go like that again. But I never came back around. I had to battle and grind through all of 2013 with not knowing what was going on."
After hitting .178 with 22 home runs and a .671 OPS last year, Uggla came to camp this year realizing he had something to prove. The veteran second baseman proved productive through the first few games of the Grapefruit League season before enduring a 1-for-13 stretch that included six strikeouts.
But Uggla has quickly turned the tide while going deep each of the past two days. His two-run shot in Monday's win over the Phillies landed on the roof of the tiki bar located far beyond the left-field fence at Bright House Stadium. Uggla then celebrated his 33rd birthday by highlighting a two-hit performance in Tuesday's 9-1 win over Philadelphia with a line-drive solo shot off Sean O'Sullivan that easily cleared Champion Stadium's left-center-field wall.
"This year, it's nice to have some results," Uggla said. "I'm still adjusting to live pitching, just like everybody is. I'm not putting too much emphasis on Spring Training. But the way I feel and the way I'm attacking the ball, that is different than year's past. I'm not just going through the motions, saying 'It will come, I'm working on stuff.'"
Uggla is batting .318 (7-for-22) with two home runs and eight strikeouts through his first 10 Grapefruit League games this year. Through his first 10 exhibition season games last year, he was hitting .154 (4-for-26) with one home run and 13 strikeouts.
While Spring Training stats -- especially those calculated with small sample sizes in early March -- are not necessarily meaningful, Uggla can at least take satisfaction from the fact he at least appears to be trending in a better direction with Opening Day less than three weeks away.
"Right now, I'm looking to make the adjustment pitch-by-pitch, rather than, 'It didn't feel very good today, we'll get 'em tomorrow.' If I didn't feel good, I'm thinking about it the whole day until I get a chance to get back in the [batting] cage. That's the difference for me this year. It's constantly going through my head, 'How am I going to make myself better?'"
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.