Long ball hurts Newcomb in second spring start

Sean Newcomb was tagged with back-to-back home runs in his second start of the spring.

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.”

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Atlanta Braves

Ex-Falcon McDonald, who played without a face mask, dies
Ex-Falcon McDonald, who played without a face mask, dies

Tommy McDonald, the small, speedy and sure-handed receiver who teamed with quarterback Norm Van Brocklin to help the Philadelphia Eagles win the 1960 NFL championship, has died. He was 84. His death was announced Monday by the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Details were not disclosed. McDonald played one season for the Falcons. In 1967, he had 33 catches...
Brian Snitker’s journey reaches latest apex: the playoffs 
Brian Snitker’s journey reaches latest apex: the playoffs 

Brian Snitker devoted 42 years to the Braves. On Saturday afternoon, the latest pinnacle of his commitment was realized. The manager, who took over as interim in May 2016, hugged bench coach Walt Weiss after the final out of the Braves’ 5-3 win over the Phillies, which clinched the National League East title. Snitker was filled with emotion,...
Braves ready to surprise again - this time, in postseason
Braves ready to surprise again - this time, in postseason

The Braves have a message for the rest of the National League: Bring it. Fresh off securing the NL East title, the Braves were talking postseason while being drenched in champagne.  A common message: They don’t plan to take our foot off the gas. The Braves have eight games remaining, and while they’re three wins behind the NL-best...
Braves react to winning NL East, upcoming postseason run
Braves react to winning NL East, upcoming postseason run

The Braves are back in the postseason. They secured the National League East crown with a 5-3 win over the Phillies on Saturday. It was their 18th division title, the most in MLB history. It was an emotional clubhouse after the game, led by manager Brian Snitker, who’s in his 42nd season with the Braves organization. The victorious group was...
What’s the ‘magic number’ for the Atlanta Braves now?
What’s the ‘magic number’ for the Atlanta Braves now?

The Braves’ ‘magic number’ is zero.   The Braves beat the Phillies 5-3 Saturday afternoon and clinched the NL East title. The Braves did it with seven games to spare in the regular season. The Braves also upped their East Division lead to an insurmountable 8 ½ games in the standings. To calculate the magic number...
More Stories