Braves announce Colombian ace will start Opening Day for fourth straight year
By Zak Kerr
Special to MLB.com |
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Sunday marked two significant occasions for Braves right-hander Julio Teheran, including his return start after pitching for Colombia in the World Baseball Classic.
But before he threw five innings in Atlanta's 5-2 loss to the Cardinals, the Braves announced Teheran would start on Opening Day for the fourth straight year. Only Greg Maddux (1993-96) and Rick Mahler ('85-88) have also started four consecutive Opening Day games for Atlanta. The Braves also announced the order of the rest of their rotation: right-hander Bartolo Colon, left-hander Jaime Garcia, righty R.A. Dickey and righty Mike Foltynewicz.
"It's a great honor that I feel one more time, for the fourth time," Teheran said. "After you get that start, it's regular games. ... I'm kind of excited to be the one, but I'm really focusing on the overall."
Teheran allowed an RBI single to teammate Freddie Freeman in the Classic as his lone damage in five innings pitched during Colombia's 4-1 win over Canada.
Teheran's five-inning return to Atlanta's rotation bore more trouble, though. After allowing just a single to Matt Adams through six batters, Teheran gave up a double to Tommy Pham, which scored Adams, and then Pham scored on Eric Fryer's single.
The third inning also proved arduous for Teheran, in part due to misplays in the field. With one out, third baseman Rio Ruiz's errant throw to first allowed Aledmys Diaz to reach second. Jedd Gyorko followed with a flare to center field that rolled past center fielder Jace Peterson, who fell short on a dive, allowing Gyorko to advance to second with an RBI double. Ruiz redeemed himself with a lunging snare of Stephen Piscotty's scorcher, doubling off Gyorko to end the half-inning.
But Adams began another parade of Cardinals reaching base in the fourth, leading off with a towering homer that sailed beyond the 385-foot marker in right-center field, his fourth this spring. Then Randal Grichuk doubled to left field and Pham walked, both advancing on starter Lance Lynn's one-out sacrifice bunt. Teheran escaped the jam by getting Kolten Wong to fly out.
Teheran's last inning proved to be his best, starting with a strikeout of Gyorko in a perfect fifth. He also slapped a single into right field before pinch-runner Sean Godfrey relieved him.
"I'm glad that I still have two more starts to be in the spot that I want to be," Teheran said. "Now that I know that I'm going to be the Opening Day [starter], I'm just getting my mindset and working on little things that I need to work on to be ready for that day."
Teheran struck out three on his 79 pitches (57 strikes).
"He kind of got out of the routine," manager Brian Snitker said, referring to the extended time since Teheran pitched for Colombia. "He wasn't just sharp nails or over-strong or anything like that. He knows he can do it. He's getting stretched out, which is a good thing, too."
Teheran had thrown five scoreless innings in his prior two Spring Training starts. His next scheduled start is Friday against the Tigers in Lakeland, Fla.
Zak Kerr is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.