Despite injuries, Braves release pitcher Freddy Garcia
KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Atlanta released pitcher Freddy Garcia, who was contending for a spot in the Braves' battered rotation, and agreed to a $1 million, one-year contract with right-hander Aaron Harang.
The team announced Garcia's unconditional release Monday on the deadline for him to be put on the major league roster — which would have triggered a $1.25 million guaranteed salary.
"They said they didn't want to pick it up. I have to go," said Garcia, who started Game 4 of last year's NL division series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The 37-year-old right-hander was cut despite a strong outing Sunday, when he limited the New York Mets to an unearned run and two hits over 5 1-3 innings. He was 1-1 with a 4.76 ERA in five spring training starts.
With Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy out for the season, and Mike Minor on the disabled list through at least mid-April as he comes back from a sore shoulder, the Braves decided to bolster their rotation depth with Harang.
The 35-year-old went 5-12 with a 5.40 ERA during a 2013 season split between Seattle and the New York Mets. He was released from a minor league contract by Cleveland earlier Monday after going 2-0 with a 2.00 ERA in nine innings for the Indians during spring training. He can earn an additional $1 million in bonuses under his deal with Atlanta: $250,000 each for 10, 15, 20 and 25 starts, or $250,000 apiece for 30, 35, 40 and 45 relief appearances.
"It's a fluid situation," Braves general manager Frank Wren said of his pitching.
The opening rotation will likely consist of Julio Teheran, Alex Wood, rookie David Hale and Harang, with non-roster invitee Gus Schlosser also a possibility.
Ervin Santana, signed late in spring training to a $14.1 million, one-year contract after Medlen and Beachy were injured, is set to join the rotation during the second week of the season after building up arm strength.
Gavin Floyd, coming back from elbow surgery, could be ready by the end of April along with Minor.
Minor is scheduled to make his first appearance of spring training Saturday in an exhibition at Rome, Ga., against a Braves minor league squad. Floyd is to pitch for the first time Friday in a minor league game.
"Our rotation depth will change drastically in a few weeks and that was part of our decision," said Wren, who insisted that cutting Garcia wasn't financially motivated.
Garcia, who has won 156 games, was visibly shaken.
"I want to pitch, but not going to the minor leagues," he said. "I come here and try the best I can. I threw yesterday the way I want to pitch and they decided to go the other way. ... They made a decision, and I got to go with it."
The team trimmed its active roster to 29 players by optioning left-hander Ryan Buchter and outfielders Jose Constanza and Joey Terdoslavich to Triple-A Gwinnett, and reassigning infielders Tyler Greene and Tommy La Stella to the International League team.
The demotion of Buchter left another non-roster pitcher, Ian Thomas, as the second left-hander in the bullpen behind Luis Avilan.
LAKELAND, Fla. — Ervin Santana allowed two runs in three innings as the Atlanta Braves topped the Detroit Tigers 12-3 Tuesday.
Santana gave up four hits and struck out one in his second start since being signed by the Braves to a one-year, $11 million deal on March 12. Santana was 9-10 with a 3.24 ERA for the Kansas City Royals last season.
Santana has pitched five innings this spring and has a 5.40 ERA.
"I feel good," he said. "I am just trying to keep the ball down. I know I still have to work on some stuff. Except for a couple of runs, it felt fine."
Santana was unsigned heading into the spring, but the Braves lost starters Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy to Tommy John surgery and expect Mike Minor to miss at least a month of the regular season.
Santana has a record of 105-90 over nine major league seasons, all in the American League.
Jason Heyward and Gerald Laird both homered for the Braves. Dan Uggla had two hits and two RBIs.
Tigers starter Rick Porcello gave up six runs and 10 hits in six innings.
Miguel Cabrera raised his spring batting average to .378 with two hits.
Braves: Manager Fredi Gonzalez liked what he saw from Santana.
"I think he did really good," Gonzalez said. "He kept the ball on the grass when they did hit it. It's just a matter of keeping him on the field."
Tigers: Porcello kept his spirits up after his rough outing.
"It was a good time," he said. "I was playing baseball and that's always fun."
Porcello gave up three first-inning runs and three more in the sixth.
"I thought I was throwing it well until the sixth and then I just started to get the ball up. I feel really good, but I have some work to do at keeping the ball down."
Braves: Atlanta may have to worry about another potential pitching problem. Right-handed reliever Cory Gearrin left early because of a strain in his pitching elbow. He is day-to-day. Gonzalez said he is withholding judgment until Wednesday.
Tigers: Outfielder Rajai Davis played in his first game since hurting his hamstring last week. He went 0 for 2 and came out after the third inning. Manager Brad Ausmus said he was limiting Davis to two at-bats or three innings. ... Lefty Phil Coke was scheduled to pitch but wasn't feeling well, so Ausmus kept him out. He is expected to be ready for his next outing.
Tigers lefty Ian Krol, acquired from Washington in the offseason deal for Doug Fister, allowed four earned runs in an inning to saw his ERA go to 7.56. He walked a batter and allowed four hits.
"He was just out of whack today," Ausmus said.
Krol was scheduled to pitch on Monday but the game was rained out. He pitched in the batting cage and his outing on Tuesday was his first back to back games this spring.
Going, going, way gone
Heyward's wind-blown homer against Porcello cleared the tall right field scoreboard before clanging off a pickup truck. Tigers right fielder Torii Hunter simply looked up as it soared over his head, picked up a few blades of grass and tossed them into the air as he watched it sail out of sight.