ROME, Ga. (AP) Mike Minor is looking forward to rejoining the Braves’ rotation as soon as possible.
The left-hander moved closer to that goal by reporting no discomfort in his left shoulder in his first game of the spring.
Minor retired all four batters in a rain-shortened appearance and the Atlanta Braves lost 13-4 to the Braves Future Stars in an exhibition game Saturday.
Minor, who was scheduled to pitch two innings, didn’t return following a 44-minute rain delay in the second inning.
The good news is Minor reported no problems after having his spring schedule delayed by tendinitis in his shoulder.
”It feels good,” Minor said. ”I didn’t really throw that many pitches.”
Minor will open the season on the 15-day disabled list.
”It felt good to actually pitch in a game atmosphere,” Minor said ”… Hopefully, I can be back with the team in a couple of weeks.”
Manager Fredi Gonzalez said the Braves hope Minor and right-hander Gavin Floyd, recovering from shoulder surgery, are ready by the end of April.
The Braves need Minor to get healthy after losing starting pitchers Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy to season-ending elbow injuries.
Minor, a 13-game winner in 2013, retired the Future Stars in order on only eight pitches in the first inning. He recorded a groundout to open the second before heavy rain caused the delay.
The delay was short, but the Braves were taking no chances with Minor’s shoulder. Pitching coach Roger McDowell and manager Fredi Gonzalez inspected the mound near the end of the delay before McDowell motioned to the bullpen, ending Minor’s day.
”It was fine,” Gonzalez said of Minor’s short day. ”First time out there, it was good.”
The Braves had good reason to use caution with Minor.
Minor had urinary tract surgery on Dec. 31 and then had a sore shoulder in Florida. The left-hander is being counted on to join Julio Teheran and Ervin Santana as leaders of the depleted rotation.
The pitching staff took another hit before the game when general manager Frank Wren announced reliever Cory Gearrin has a ”significant” ligament injury in his right elbow. Wren said Gearrin, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list, will see Dr. James Andrews next week for a second opinion.
With all of Atlanta’s starters out of the game, Josh Elander hit a grand slam off Atahualpa Severino in the Future Stars’ eight-run seventh inning.
Center fielder Kyle Wren, the GM’s son, had two hits and drove in a run for the Future Stars.
The Braves finalized their 25-man roster and announced that right-hander David Hale will open the season as the fourth starter behind Teheran, Alex Wood and Aaron Harang. The Braves will use only four starters until Santana joins the rotation in mid-April.
Right-hander Gus Schlosser, who was competing with Hale, also made the team and will pitch out of the bullpen. Left-hander Ryan Buchter was recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett when Gearrin was placed on the disabled list.
The Braves went through the leaders of their projected bullpen after Minor’s exit. Luis Avilan, Craig Kimbrel, David Carpenter and Anthony Vavaro each pitched an inning. Kimbrel gave up a run in the fourth when Edward Salcedo doubled, stole third and scored on a fly ball by Edison Sanchez.
Right-hander Jason Hursh, the Braves’ first-round pick in 2013, started for the Future Stars and pitched two scoreless innings, allowing two hits with three strikeouts.
Left-hander Ian Thomas left the game after he was hit on his left hip by Sanchez’s liner in the seventh. Gonzalez said Thomas, who made the 25-man roster, wasn’t seriously hurt and was removed for precautionary reasons.
HALL OF FAMER IN DUGOUT
Former Braves manager Bobby Cox, who will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on July 27, managed the Future Stars. He was assisted by Class A Rome Braves manager Jonathan Schuerholz, the son of Braves President John Schuerholz.
John Schuerholz led the crowd in ”Take Me Out To The Ballgame” in the seventh-inning stretch.
Cox, 72, works with the Braves as a special assistant to the general manager.