Feb 16, 2014; Lake Buena Vistas, FL, USA; Atlanta Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell works with Kris Medlen (54) during spring training at Champion Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Jason Heyward home run highlights Braves 5-2 loss to Tigers in second Spring Training game


The Atlanta Braves were back in action on Thursday afternoon in Game 2 of a “home-and-home” set with the Detroit Tigers to kick off Grapefruit League action. Things began well with a run in the top of the 1st from the Braves, but from there, Detroit answered quickly and while the scoreboard is of little consequence during Spring action, the Tigers cruised to a 5-2 decision.

Kris Medlen took the hill for the Braves to start the game, and he wasn’t incredibly sharp, but that is to be expected in a Spring debut. The Atlanta right-hander (and presumptive Opening Day starter if Mike Minor is on the shelf and/or delayed) walked the first batter he faced, and while he battled from there, he surrendered 1 run and 2 hits over his designed 2 innings on the mound. Because Medlen is a control-based pitcher, it is understandable that he will take a bit to ramp things up, but it was a fine performance.

Following Medlen, the Braves utilized Major League bullpen options in David Carpenter and Luis Avilan. Carpenter looked crisp in a scoreless 3rd inning that needed only 6 pitches, with the only blemish coming on a hit-by-pitch issued to Miguel Cabrera. Avilan allowed back-to-back singles to Alex Avila and Austin Jackson (both starters for the Tigers), but he escaped after a double-play and generally looked fine despite the early trouble.

In the batter’s box, Jason Heyward provided the biggest highlight of the day with a massive home run blast in his second at-bat. Heyward bombed off of left-hander Duane Below (yes, off a lefty!), and his ball reportedly grazed the roof above the right-field batting cage. Preceding the Heyward moonshot, Ryan Doumit began the scoring with a 1st-inning triple (yes, a triple) that scored B.J. Upton, who walked in his first at-bat. Doumit would finish the day 2-for-3 after a 4th-inning single plus a 6th-inning flyout against Joe Nathan, and he even stole a base (!!) for good measure while making his right field debut. Cue the “Ryan Doumit for starting catcher!” jokes at any moment.

Ramiro Pena (at shortstop), Jordan Schafer (left field), and Phil Gosselin (second base) all got the start in this one, but each player failed to post a base hit, and the trio collectively struck out 6 times in 9 total at-bats. Forward top-shelf prospect Edward Salcedo started the game at third base, and finished 1-for-3 including a double in the 7th inning.

Perhaps the biggest takeaway (if there is one) from Thursday’s game is a seemingly minor injury suffered by Gerald Laird. The Braves catcher exited the game after just one inning as a result of a lower back strain (announced by the team), and he will be re-evaluated on a day-to-day basis moving forward.

The Braves will be playing their first evening game on Friday, as they take on the Houston Astros at 6:05 pm ET before heading over to take on the Washington Nationals on Saturday afternoon. Stay tuned for all your updates from the Grapefruit League.

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