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Medlen working on fastball command at this stage


LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Kris Medlen proved to be quite efficient as he needed just 49 pitches to complete four innings in Friday's 7-1 split-squad loss to the Blue Jays at Champion Stadium. But while surrendering three runs and five hits in the process, the Braves right-hander found many of his mistakes to be unforgiving.

"When I left the ball over the plate, it got smacked to right-center and smacked to right," Medlen said. "They were putting some pretty good swings on the pitches I left over the plate. The second time through, I started mixing some more offspeed pitches, which I think helped. My fastball command today was probably five or six inches higher than I wanted it and more over the plate than I wanted."

Medlen's primary nemesis was leadoff hitter Anthony Gose, who hit a two-run home run in the third inning and began his three-hit performance with a first-inning single that helped put him in position to score on Ryan Langerhans' one-out single through the right side of the infield.

"I try to throw an excessive amount of fastballs [during the exhibition season]," Medlen said. "But if I get teed off on like I was today, I've got to mix some stuff in. I try to throw 70 percent fastballs. I pitch off my fastball and work on location. When it's there, it's there. When it's not, I still try to go there even though I'm getting hit around a little bit. I still try to find it in my head and sync it up with my body to get those pitches done when I need them. Sometimes, they are just too good of pitches to hit."

In other words, Medlen is just one of many Major League pitchers who understand they still have some work to do before the regular season begins in three weeks. The right-hander's focus during his final four spring starts will be to find more consistency with his fastball and offspeed pitches.

"You've got to find what works and try to make the adjustments," Medlen said. "Sometimes, it doesn't happen. In the regular season, you've been throwing a lot more and you know how to make those adjustments. Now, there is still a little bit of rust you need to knock off."

Medlen has allowed four runs and eight hits -- two home runs -- in the nine innings he has completed through his first three starts of the Grapefruit League season. While these are not numbers expected from a guy who posted a 0.97 ERA in 12 starts last year, they are also not cause for alarm at this point of the exhibition season.

"He's fine," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "Five days he'll go back out there and continue extending his pitch count."

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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