Dan Haren’s command hits minor hiccup in win over Braves

JUPITER, Fla. — Miami Marlins right-hander Dan Haren pokes fun at the velocity of his pitches with his Twitter handle @ithrow88.

Haren, who threw in the 90s during the earlier part of his 12-year career, relies on his command to compensate for the dip in speed.

After opening Grapefruit League play with 11 consecutive innings without a walk, Haren issued a leadoff free pass in the fourth of Friday night’s 5-1 win over the Atlanta Braves at Roger Dean Stadium.

The batter, Freddie Freeman, came around to score on Chris Johnson’s one-out RBI single to left. Haren struck out Zolio Almonte swinging before Andrelton Simmons reached on a bunt hit to set up runners on second and first. Chris Johnson knocked Freeman in with an RBI single to left.

"No good," Haren said. "It happens during the year. I was able to pitch around one of them. Leadoff walk, obviously I can’t be doing that during the season. I have to be close to perfect the way I pitch. I was able to minimize the damage there. It’s frustrating, but it happens."

Other than that, Haren tossed a spring-high five innings, allowing just that one run on four hits — all singles — with four strikeouts. Haren also walked Jace Peterson with two outs in the fifth, but he avoided a rally.

Of his 75 pitches, which was his limit for his fourth outing, 52 were strikes. He induced eight groundouts.

"I was keeping them off balance for the most part," Haren said. "A lot of ground balls again. Keeps going in the right direction. I’m happy with it. Definitely started getting a little tired there at the end."

Prior to the seventh pitch of the at-bat to Johnson, Haren called catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia to the mound wanting to throw a front-door cutter. Johnson turned on what Haren later called a "bad pitch" and "something really stupid."

"I hadn’t thrown one all spring," Haren said. "He was leaning out toward the plate. I told him, ‘Let’s try it here. If it doesn’t work we’ll go to something else.’ And then of course I gave up a hit there. Probably not something I would do during the year. He put a good swing on it."

You can follow Christina De Nicola on Twitter @CDeNicola13 or email her at cdenicola13@gmail.com.