3/23/2014 5:45 P.M. ET
Minor, Floyd gearing up for series of starts
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- As the Braves are ending their exhibition season near the end of this week, Mike Minor and Gavin Floyd will begin making a stretch of starts that positions both to join Atlanta's starting rotation during April's fourth week.
Floyd is scheduled to complete two innings during a Minor League exhibition game on Friday. Minor is slated to work two innings when the Braves play some of their top Minor League players in an exhibition game at Class A Rome's State Mutual Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The Braves have currently scheduled Minor and Floyd to make five starts in either exhibition or Minor League regular-season games. If both get through this stretch healthy, they could be ready to join Atlanta's injury-depleted rotation at some point after April 21.
"Everything has to go with no setbacks or anything like that," said Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez. "That's why we've got our fingers crossed."
The Braves have officially placed five pitchers -- Minor, Floyd, Jonny Venters, Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy on the disabled list retroactive to March 21. While Medlen and Beachy underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery last week, Venters is hoping to return from the same procedure in June.
Minor reported to Spring Training feeling the effects of the month-long stretch of inactivity that he experienced after undergoing a Dec. 31 urinary-tract procedure. The southpaw has now gone more than a month since feeling the left shoulder discomfort that briefly shelved him during the early days of camp.
Floyd has also been pleased with the way he has felt, as he nears the final stages of the long rehab process since undergoing Tommy John surgery on May 7.
"I'm just thankful that it has been going the way it has been going," Floyd said. "I feel solid mechanically and freed-up mechanically. I feel my body is creating great kinetic energy to throw a baseball. That is what I've tried to create from the beginning, because I had kind of got away from that. I want to feel like I can just pitch and be aggressive with everything without worrying about mechanics."
Fredi: Don't assume Garcia in Braves' rotation
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Freddy Garcia did everything he could to convince the Braves he is worth the $1.5 million guarantee he will receive if he learns he is on Atlanta's Opening Day roster by Monday's deadline.
But after Garcia limited the Mets to an unearned run and two hits over 5 1/3 innings during Sunday's 4-1 victory, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez would not commit to guaranteeing the 37-year-old right-hander will begin the season in his rotation.
"We'll see," Gonzalez said. "I wouldn't assume anything. His performance today was good, though. We've still got four or five days, so a lot of things could still happen."
There is always a chance the Braves could acquire another starting pitcher via a trade or a waiver-wire move at some point this week. But by the time Monday concludes, they need to tell Garcia whether he will be placed on Atlanta's roster to begin the season.
If Garcia does not receive this guarantee, he would likely opt out of the Minor League contract he signed in January. While he's willing to be used as a starter or reliever at the big league level, he has repeatedly said he has no desire to pitch at the Minor League level.
"If they want to keep me here, they keep me," Garcia said. "If not, that's something that's not in my hands. I did my job, and now it's a decision they have to make."
Garcia has been effective in three of the five starts he has made during the Grapefruit League season. The first of the two disappointing outings he completed was influenced by the pressure he faced as he pitched while his wife was in labor at a Miami-area hospital.
While Garcia might not be effective as a starting pitcher over the entirety of the regular season, he could provide value in the bullpen as a long reliever who would have the ability to occasionally make a spot start.
"I want to help them any way I can," Garcia said. "I have a lot of experience and I am healthy. I can pitch every five days and pitch a lot of innings. If they need me in the bullpen, I'll be in the bullpen. I'll be a support for the young guys. It's a long season -- and they need guys with experience."
• Jordan Walden completed a pain-free bullpen session on Sunday morning and now appears to be in line to pitch an inning during Tuesday's game against the Tigers. Walden has been sidelined over the past week because of a sore left hamstring.
• Despite playing just two big league spring games thus far, Tyler Pastornicky still appears to be the top internal candidate to gain the last available roster spot for a position player on Atlanta's roster. Pastornicky will likely compile a number of at-bats while playing in a couple of Minor League exhibition games this week.
• As he goes through the final games of the Grapefruit League season, Gonzalez plans to take advantage of opportunities to match Ian Thomas and Ryan Buchter against left-handed hitters. It appears either Thomas or Buchter could begin the season as a left-handed specialist in Atlanta's bullpen.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.