LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Kris Medlen understands that he will likely begin this season in Atlanta's bullpen. But over the next few weeks, the versatile right-hander wants to give the Braves every reason to remember he still has the ability to be an effective starting pitcher whenever necessary.
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez seemed pleased after watching Medlen allow a run while pitching the first two innings of Tuesday's 5-2 loss to the Nationals. That lone run came courtesy of the opposite-field home run that Jayson Werth snuck over the right-field wall to begin the second inning.
"Medlen was outstanding, he really was," Gonzalez said. "He threw some good changeups to some left-handed hitters, and some fastballs. That was nice to see."
Showing the ability to throw his curveball for strikes, Medlen recorded a pair of strikeouts in a scoreless first inning. Werth's homer and Bryce Harper's second-inning single served as the only blemishes during his two-inning stint.
"I had the anxious nerves before the game," Medlen said. "It was just like a regular-season start for me. I was really amped up and really ready to go."
Medlen posted a 3.86 ERA and saw the Braves go 13-1 in the 14 starts he made before undergoing Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery in August 2010. Still, it appears he will begin this season as a middle reliever, someone who could lessen the strain placed on top setup men Jonny Venters and Eric O'Flaherty.
"He's an upper-tier swing guy," Gonzalez said. "He could be your middle-of-the-rotation type of starter, and he can help you out there in those middle innings. He can do a lot of different stuff."