Braves lefty Sean Newcomb made his second start of the spring Thursday. Against the Tigers in Lakeland, he faced three batters in the first inning. He induced a groundout from each of the three. However, he allowed homers to the first two batters in the second. The homers were hit by Nicholas Castellanos and Victor Martinez. Newcomb has pitched three innings this spring, striking out four. He has allowed three hits and two runs and walked one.

Long ball hurts Newcomb in second spring start

After throwing a scoreless inning against Houston on Saturday, Newcomb went two frames against the Tigers on Thursday in Lakeland, Florida. 

He pitched a perfect first inning, retiring three Tigers on ground balls. Right fielder Nick Castellanos and designated hitter Victor Martinez took him deep to open the second.

Newcomb settled in with a fly out sandwiched between two strikeouts to finish the outing. His control was up-and-down, but he didn’t issue a walk.

“Just really early in spring still,” Newcomb said. “Just fastballs that didn’t have life on them or one of them, to Castellanos, I just didn’t get it in quite as much as I wanted to. Martinez took a 3-2 in-fastball … didn’t have the life it should’ve.”

Braves manager Brian Snitker was satified with Newcomb’s 38-pitch afternoon, especially with his confidence.

“He had the one homer to Castellanos, Zuke (catcher Kurt Suzuki) was saying it was a borderline ball,” Snitker said. “He was amazed at how he got to it. If you break it down, I liked his fastball. He threw some really good breaking balls and some really good change-ups. So again, he’s not a finished product. He’s far better today than he was a year ago today.

“He’s coming. You break down the three pitches he had today, individually, he was pretty good.”

Joker Marchant Stadium is known for oft-windy conditions, but Newcomb wasn’t sure to what degree that affected the homers.

“I feel good,” he said. “I was able to get the change-up in there good. The fastball felt good. I was commanding it well. Faced the minimum besides those two guys. But like I said, it feels good. Just early, so I don’t have my life on everything.”

Across 19 starts and 100 innings, Newcomb allowed 10 home runs. He gave up seven homers in his last 197 2/3 innings in Double-A and Triple-A.

“I’m aggressive with my fastball, so sometimes I think it’s hard to get up in the air,” he said.

After a rookie season checked by moments of brilliance and inconsistency, Newcomb didn’t arrive in Florida promised a spot in the rotation. He’s fine with that; the competition keeps the intensity up among him and his young peers. 

But Newcomb was a fixture in last season’s rotation from June onward. The way he sees it, he’s in the rotation until he’s not.

“For me, I look at it as, that was my spot last year. Coming into this spring, it’s my spot to lose essentially. So I just go out there like that’s the case. Go out and do what I have to do.”