Braves like Medlen's value out of the 'pen

Braves like Medlen's value out of the 'pen

LAKELAND, Fla. -- The Braves will allow Kris Medlen to continue conditioning like a starter with a five-inning outing in a Minor League game on Friday. But the plan remains for him to begin the regular season in the bullpen.

"That's always been our plan because he sets up our bullpen very well," Braves general manager Frank Wren said. "He makes our bullpen much better because of his versatility and his ability to get lefties and righties out, better than most guys."

Medlen has pitched effectively while preparing for the possibility that an injury or another unforeseen development could force him to a starting role. He limited the Mets to one hit in four scoreless innings on Saturday and has allowed one run in eight innings this exhibition season.

But with either Randall Delgado or Julio Teheran available to serve as a starter at least until Tim Hudson returns, the Braves believe Medlen's versatility will prove more valuable in the bullpen. Along with having the ability to pitch multiple innings, Medlen could occasionally be used in a setup role to give Eric O'Flaherty or Jonny Venters a chance to rest.

"He's pitched very well," Wren said. "That's what we expected coming in. We think he's a very valuable guy, as well. We're not overlooking the fact that he is a valuable guy. With the way our club is structured, we think he is more valuable for us in the bullpen, because we think he can impact more games than as a starter."