Teheran tallies another strong start in spring
by Bill Whitehead
Associated Press Sports Writer
March 17, 2013 11:55 PM | 2163 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Julio Teheran
Julio Teheran
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Bidding to earn the fifth spot in the Atlanta Braves’ rotation, Julio Teheran allowed a leadoff homer to Jordany Valdespin.

But after that, Teheran gave up just two more hits and walked two over six innings, and the Braves beat the New York Mets 2-1 on Sunday.

Valdespin’s homer landed on the walkway beside the berm down the right-field line, his fourth home run of the exhibition season.

“He hit a four-seam fastball,” said Teheran. “I was behind in the count, so I tried to get ahead. He was jumping on me. I just tried to stay focused on the game and compete after that.”

Teheran lowered his ERA to 1.35.

“I’ve been trying to make the team and trying to impress them,” he said. “That’s why I’ve been doing good. A lot of things are working better. I’m throwing my breaking pitch more for strikes. That’s the difference from last year. I tried to throw everything by everybody last spring.”

He received some advice during the offseason from a pitcher he idolized, former Met Pedro Martinez. The two had dinner together during winter ball in the Dominican Republic.

“He told me to save my energy for the whole game, and that’s what I’m trying to do this year,” Teheran said. “It was exciting for me because when I was little, I watched him pitch.”

Freddie Freeman hit an RBI single in the sixth off Scott Rice. Chris Johnson had three hits, including a fourth-inning home run.

Meanwhile, Jonathon Niese is looking more and more like the Mets’ opening day starter with Johan Santana sidelined. Niese gave up one run and two hits in five innings.

With Santana still building up arm strength — he hasn’t pitched in a single spring training game — Niese appears to be the likely replacement for the April 1 opener against San Diego.

“I’m not convinced, but there’s certainly a strong possibility that’s going to happen,” Mets manager Terry Collins said.

Niese struck out four and walked one. He allowed Johnson’s home run in the fourth, Johnson’s third of spring training. The drive went off the scoreboard in left-field.

“It was one of those things,” Niese said. “I got two quick outs and should’ve been pounding the zone there.

I nibbled with my changeup and fell behind.”

Atlanta worked the count and ran Niese’s pitch count up to 83.

Both clubs sported some green in their uniforms, and the game was played with green bases on St. Patrick’s Day.

NOTES: Atlanta gave its regular outfield (Jason Heyward, Justin Upton and B.J. Upton) a day off. Jordan Schafer, Jose Constanza and Jordan Parraz started in their places. ... Mets INF Justin Turner, who sprained his right ankle while fielding a grounder at third base Saturday, had X-rays, which were negative. ... Collins described 2B Daniel Murphy as “pretty stiff” and said the team will see how he is on Wednesday. Murphy has not appeared in a game yet because of a strained right intercostal muscle. ... Collins also said there is no schedule for Santana to pitch a game this week.

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