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Beltran hits first HR of spring as Cards drop Braves

Beltran hits first HR of spring as Cards drop Braves

Beltran hits first HR of spring as Cards drop Braves

KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Carlos Beltran is more concerned with health than spring training stats.

Entering with a .190 average in eight exhibition games, Carlos Beltran hit his first home run for the St. Louis Cardinals, a leadoff drive off Julio Teheran in the sixth inning during Monday's 4-3 win over the Atlanta Braves.

Beltran, who signed a free agent after splitting last year between the New York Mets and San Francisco Giants, also had a single. His home run went deep over the right-field fence.

"I think that was a pretty good indication of his strength," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "He wristed that and it was a rocket. He's getting close and that pretty good timing for us."

St. Louis gave Beltran a $26 million, two-year contract following the departure of Albert Pujols. The Cardinals are confident the switch-hitter can provide run production if his troublesome knees don't sidetrack him.

"I'm just happy that I feel good physically," Beltran said. "I haven't been concentrating on results. I knew that would come. My focus is on staying healthy. I've been working hard and my knee feels good."

A bout with the flu and a sore shoulder did keep Beltran out of a few games, cutting the at-bats he needs to get his timing down.

"I don't care who you are, you want to see hits as you get ready for the season," Matheny said.

Brian McCann hit his first exhibition homer, a seventh-inning drive.

Rookie right-handers Delgado and Teheran are competing for the fifth spot in the Braves rotation. Delgado struck out five and walked three in five innings, while Teheran fanned four and gave up two walks in four innings.

"I'm getting better every start," said Delgado, who regretted only on pitch. "I left the changeup up," he said of Carpenter's homer. "It tried to get too perfect."

Teheran has allowed nine homers in 13 spring training innings, including six in one outing.

"His fastball command is not where he wants it to be," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said.


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