LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- As Braves right-hander Mike Foltynewicz recorded seven strikeouts over four strong innings of Thursday's 5-3 loss to the Tigers, he took advantage of opportunities to show he is capable of reacting to adverse situations better than he did in the past.
Foltynewicz allowed five of the first eight batters he faced to reach safely, surrendered a second-inning leadoff homer to JaCoby Jones and objected to a few of plate umpire Nic Lentz's calls. But instead of extending his tendency to allow similar situations to spiral out of control, the 25-year-old kept his poise and ended up retiring nine of the final 10 batters he faced, six via strikeouts.
"He just kept pitching," manager Brian Snitker said. "I really like what I saw today. His last three or four [starts] have been good, and he's had to work, which is not a bad thing. I kind of like where he's going with making pitches to get himself out of trouble."
After a single, walk and wild pitch allowed the Tigers to put runners at second and third before an out had been recorded, Foltynewicz moved toward a scoreless first by striking out Nicholas Castellanos. The Braves' hurler then allowed three straight hits to begin the second inning before frustratingly removing his hat in objection to Lentz's ruling on a 1-2 pitch to Brendan Ryan.
When Foltynewicz produced a 4.31 ERA in 22 starts last year, this sequence of events often led to further trouble. But he erased Ryan via a groundout and then struck out six of the next eight batters faced. Each of his final five strikeouts were called, which validated just how well he was locating his fastball and spinning his slider.
"We threw everything today," Foltynewicz said. "I think it really kept them off balance. They just weren't looking for a fastball with two strikes a couple times, and I was moving in, out, up and down. We did a lot of that today. So it was really, really good."
Foltynewicz came to Spring Training knowing the final rotation spot was his as long as he remained healthy and pitched effectively. He has certainly done what was needed, allowing just three earned runs through 13 Grapefruit League innings.
Odds and ends
• Dansby Swanson took batting practice and completed all other routine baseball activities before Thursday's game without experiencing any problems. Snitker said Swanson could return to the lineup on Saturday for the first time since he experienced a sore back during a March 4 game against the Marlins. Third baseman Adonis Garcia, who has been dealing with a sore hamstring, might also play on Saturday.
• Instead of making the long drive to West Palm Beach for Friday afternoon's game against the Astros, Jaime Garcia will pitch in a Minor League game at ESPN's Wide World of Sports complex.
• Matt Kemp has gone 7-for-16 since going hitless in his first 14 Grapefruit League at-bats. A pair of singles on Thursday provided him his first multi-hit game of the spring.
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.