Jeff Schultz

This AJC sports blogger takes things seriously when he has to, but he really would rather not

UPDATED: Braves release Garcia, sign Harang to join kids


From Maddux, Glavine and Smoltz to . . . Teheran, Wood and Hale?

Sure. When’s opening day?

The Braves, who lost two of their top starting pitchers, Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy, before making it out of spring training, released veteran Freddy Garcia on Monday.

I’m not going to express shock and disdain at general manager Frank Wren’s decision to release the 37-year-old Garcia because … well, it’s Freddy Garcia. But this is a little bit of a head-scratcher when you consider what the Braves are left with in the starting rotation, and the fact Garcia wasn't making a ton of money ($1.25 million if he was on the opening day roster).

UPDATE: The Braves have signed the well-traveled Aaron Harang to take Garcia's spot. The 35-year-old Harang has pitched for six teams in 12 seasons, including four in the last three years. He split last season with Seattle (22 starts) and the New York Mets (four starts), going 5-12 with a 5.40 ERA. The assumption is that Harang will fall four or fifth in line until the Braves starting get players back from the disabled list.

Garcia was packing in the clubhouse when he told our David O'Brien , "They said they didn't want to pick up my (contract). I gotta go.... I don't have anything to say."

Other than Harang, the Braves will have a kiddie corps of a rotation. Here are the other four healthy pitchers:

• 1. Julio Teheran. He is 23 years old. He is your opening day starter. Teheran has 34 starts, 30 of them coming last season in his rookie year. Congratulations, Julio. You’re the steady, veteran influence on this staff.

• 2. Alex Wood. He also is 23 years old. He started 11 games last year in his rookie season. He is less than two years removed from being drafted out of Georgia.

• 3. David Hale. He is 26 years old, a 2009 draft pick out of Princeton and started two games last year. When I spoke to pitching coach Roger McDowell at length early in camp, he brought up Hale’s name three or four times. At the time, I figured he was just trying to give the kid a boost by getting his name in a story. Now he’s the No. 3 starter. Oops.

• 4. Gus Schlosser. OK, if you tell me you’ve had him penciled in as a starter since camp opened, and you’re name isn’t Mr. or Mrs. Schlosser, you’re lying. Schlosser is 25 years old. He never has made a major league start. He was a 17th round draft and spent the last three years in the minors, starting 25 games last year for Double-A Mississippi (7-6, 2.39).

Unless the Braves add another arm before the season starts, that will be starting four going into the season. Teheran, Wood, Hale and Schlosser combine for 47 major league starts, and Teheran accounts for most of those.

You know the adage about how you should never look at the baseball standings until after Memorial Day. In the Braves’ case, you may want to push that back at least a month.

The team put five pitchers on the disabled list this week: Medlen, Beachy, starters Mike Minor and Gavin Floyd and relieve Jonny Venters. Ervin Santana, signed after it was learned Medlen would require a second Tommy John surgery, is not on the DL but will miss at least the first week of the season as he builds up his strength after his late arrival. Minor and Floyd will miss the first three to four weeks, at least.

The Braves could survive all this. But they might need Dan Uggla or B.J. Upton to hit .300 in April.


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About the Author

Jeff Schultz is a general sports columnist and blogger who isn't afraid to share his opinion, which may not necessarily jibe with yours.