CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Jair Jurrjens has been encouraged by the fact that his right knee has not been a problem through his first three exhibition starts. At the same time, the Braves right-hander has plenty of reason to be thankful that he has three more starts to iron things out before the start of the regular season.
"I honestly feel really good," Jurrjens said. "I'm just not seeing the results right now. But the main thing is no pain. If I keep getting comfortable and stronger, I'll start seeing the results I want."
Jurrjens allowed four earned runs and nine hits while working four innings during Thursday's 6-4 loss to the Phillies at Bright House Field. While the line might have looked ugly, the 26-year-old pitcher looked much more comfortable than he had during his first two exhibition starts. Seemingly more confident in the stability of his knee, he looked more aggressive with his delivery and his fastball touched 93 mph.
"I felt good," Jurrjens said. "I threw more strikes. I'm happy with my control. I just wish I could get them to hit the balls to the fielders. There was nothing I could do about those cheap hits."
Jurrjens allowed leadoff doubles in each of his final three innings, including the one that Scott Podsednik recorded after Matt Diaz lost the ball in sun during the second inning. Jimmy Rollins' single fell to the ground in shallow left field between Diaz and shortstop Tyler Pastornicky.
"I just want to keep getting comfortable and start trusting myself and my stuff again," Jurrjens said. "I need to throw more strikes and get ahead early in the count. That's my game. I'm still falling behind a little bit."
Jurrjens missed the final two weeks of the 2010 season because of a torn meniscus in his right knee, and then battled right knee discomfort during every start he made after entering the 2011 All-Star break with a National League-best 1.87 ERA.
"My goal for him during his first four or five starts was to make sure his knee is good," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "So far, that is what I have seen."