He left without saying anything, but Julio Teheran’s performance said plenty.
The Braves right-hander pitched five hitless, scoreless innings against the Cardinals in a 12-3 win Tuesday at Champion Stadium, reducing his Grapefruit League ERA to 1.29 and solidifying his hold on the fifth-starter job. Teheran had six strikeouts with two walks and retired 10 of the last 11 batters he faced.
“Julio’s got some weapons, man,” manager Fredi Gonzalez said of the rookie, who has allowed four hits and two runs in 14 innings this spring, with 18 strikeouts and four walks. “The more he goes out there, the more he’s impressed me with his change-up, with his two-seamer that cuts back on the lefties, his elevating the fastball, his command.”
The fifth-starter job was his to lose entering spring training, and he’s done nothing to lose it and plenty to show team officials he might be ready to live up to the No. 1 organizational prospect ranking he’s had for three years running.
Teheran, 22, left the ballpark Tuesday before reporters were allowed to enter the clubhouse after the game.
His ERA nearly doubled in his second season at Triple-A Gwinnett, from 2.55 in 2011 to 5.08 in 2012, while his strikeouts slipped. But after working on his sinker and curveball in winter ball in the Dominican Republic, Teheran is thriving.
“I wouldn’t have called him more than a one-pitch pitcher last year,” Gonzalez said. “He pitched with his fastball, and occasionally he would have that good curveball. Now he’s got the two fastballs, the curveball; the change-up’s really good, and he’s got a little slider working, too.”
Gattis keeps crushing: Bench candidate Evan Gattis was 2-for-2 with two doubles and three RBIs, including a bases-loaded double in the eighth inning on a first-pitch 97-mph fastball from Cardinals closer Jason Motte. He pulled that for a line drive, bouncing it over the left-field fence.
Making a push for a outfield/catching and pinch-hitting job, Gattis is 13-for-28 (.464) with five doubles, two homers and team-highs in RBIs (10) and slugging percentage (.857).
“We know he can do that, and what I’ve been impressed with is that he can catch, too,” Gonzalez said.
Heyward’s shoulder fine: A day after he was scratched from the lineup because of a sore shoulder, Jason Heyward said it was nothing to be concerned about, and he played like it Tuesday against St. Louis. He went 1-for-2 with a ground out and an opposite-field double in three innings.
Gonzalez brought in substitutes to start the fourth inning in the outfield in place of Heyward and the Upton brothers, who will make the 2 1/2-hour bus trip with the rest of the team’s position players to Jupiter, Fla., on Wednesday for a night game against the Marlins and for Thursday game against the Cardinals.
Heyward’s right (non-throwing) shoulder was a little tight Monday from the impact of a diving catch Sunday, and he said it hurt later when he one-handed a follow-through swinging at a change-up. Gonzalez rested the right fielder Monday.
O’Flaherty debut: Making his spring debut after missing time with a strained groin, reliever Eric O’Flaherty had an eventful sixth inning, but came away unscathed. He gave up a leadoff ground-ball single, then was charged with a throwing error after he slipped fielding a slow-rolling single.
O’Flaherty got out of the inning after Adron Chambers was caught trying to steal home, Allen Craig struck out, and Ty Wigginton hit a fly that center fielder Jordan Schafer raced back to catch at the wall.
“More than anything just exciting to be out there, feel like I was part of the team again,” said O’Flaherty, who should have enough time to get ready for the season with spring training a week longer than usual.
Etc.: The Braves made their first cuts, trimming 10 from the camp roster. Pitcher Cory Rasmus was optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett, and pitchers Juan Jaime and Aaron Northcraft were optioned to Double-A Mississippi. The others were re-assigned to minor league camp: pitchers Ryan Buchter, Yohan Flande and Gus Schlosser; catchers Luis De La Cruz, Braeden Schlehuber and Jose Yepez and infielder Joe Leonard. … Lefty Luis Avilan, after allowing only four hits in 6 1/3 scoreless innings over his first six appearances, gave up four hits and three runs in the sixth inning Tuesday. … Gonzalez on Schafer’s running catch at the wall, “There’s not too many center fielders that make that play. He’s valuable.”… The Braves will pay tribute to two-time former MVP Dale Murphy before their July 11 game against Cincinnati. The first 20,000 fans get Murphy bobblehead dolls.