Braves' bullpen competition heating up among trio

LAKELAND, Fla. -- While Eric O'Flaherty has established himself as the biggest surprise in Braves camp and a current favorite to win a spot in Atlanta's bullpen, Blaine Boyer and Chaz Roe still have time to keep this competition interesting.

"You're looking more at stuff with those guys than you are with results," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "They're all throwing the ball pretty good. So, you're looking between the lines with guys like that, because they have been through the wars."

This is certainly an encouraging reality for Roe and Boyer, who have at least spent the past few days distancing themselves from the rough outings they had during the early portion of the Grapefruit League season. Neither of the two right-handers surrendered an earned run during their respective appearances made during Wednesday's 8-6 loss to the Tigers at Publix Field.

Roe provided further indication he's regained a feel for the slider that fueled the success he had as he spent last season's final two months with Atlanta. He allowed an inherited run to score after he replaced R.A. Dickey in Wednesday's fifth and surrendered an unearned run in the sixth, which was blemished by James McCann's leadoff walk and an Ozzie Albies error.

But Roe left a good impression when he concluded his 1 2/3-inning effort by getting Nicholas Castellanos to swing over a slider. The right-hander allowed seven hits and seven earned runs as he totaled just three outs through his first two appearances. But he's now exited his past two one-plus-inning appearances without allowing an earned run.

"I really liked what I saw from Chaz, that was more of the slider that we had seen last year," Snitker said. That was good to see."

Boyer surrendered two hits, but benefited from a double-play groundout as he blanked the Tigers during the eighth to complete his second straight scoreless appearance. Before these past two outings, he had allowed at least three hits in three of his first four Grapefruit League appearances.

O'Flaherty allowed the Tigers to score a run in the seventh inning, but as he continued to show a good sinker, he didn't necessarily damage his already strong candidacy. The lefty hit Alex Presley with a pitch and surrendered an infield single before a double-play groundout preceded Juan Perez's RBI single and John Hicks' inning-ending strikeout.

Odds and ends

• Snitker said he's just waiting on the medical staff to clear Dansby Swanson to play in games. Swanson is no longer dealing with the back discomfort that has sidelined him since March 4, but the Braves have remained cautious with Opening Day still more than two weeks away. There's a chance Swanson could play within the next few days.

• When Julio Teheran starts Sunday's home game against the Cardinals, it will mark the first time he's pitched in a game since this past Saturday, when he tossed five strong innings for Colombia in the World Baseball Classic. This would be the first of three spring starts he could still make before Opening Day.

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.