The Atlanta Braves' spring training struggles continued on Thursday, as they fell 2-1 to the Baltimore Orioles. The loss was their third in a row and dropped them to a 1-5 record in the spring.
Despite the Braves' struggles, there were some positives in the game. Eric Hinske hit a solo home run for the Braves' lone run, and Mike Minor continued his strong spring with a solid three innings of work. He gave up three hits and walked two without allowing a run in his second spring start. He threw two scoreless innings in his first start.
“It’s just getting out there and try to establish the strike zone,” Minor said. “Once you establish that you can try to pick corners. Right now, I’m still trying to concentrate on my breaking ball, flick it in there for 0-0 [count] and try to bury it. Same thing with the change-up. I threw a couple today it was 0-2, 1-2 that were too much in the zone. During the season you want to get that out of the zone.”
Since Minor had great command of his fastball during the start, he was able to work on his off-speed pitches.
“He had good fastball command, which is number one for me early on in spring training,” catcher David Ross said. “The other stuff he will get a feel for to get over. He threw a really good change-up. His breaking ball is, like every spring, the last thing to come from most pitchers. I’m just glad he moved the ball in and out with his fastball, got some ground balls and his change-up is a lot better than years past, it’s got more movement. He’s come a long way in the few years he’s been here.”
Barring injury or monumental collapse, Minor has essentially locked up a spot in the rotation. He went 5-3 with a 4.14 ERA in 15 starts last season, and he appears to have grown from the experience.
“I think he is a different guy in general, after seeing him in September,” manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “There is a comfort level there. There is a mindset that he belongs.”
The Braves will play split-squad games against the New York Yankees and New York Mets on Friday at 1:05 EDT.
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