Braves Drop 2015 Grapefruit League Opener, 8-2

The Atlanta Braves opened up the Spring Training slate with an 8-2 loss to the New York Mets on Wednesday afternoon. Some early offense was undone by shaky middle relief, as both Matt Capps and Jose Veras were roughed up by the Mets.

To make matters worse, the team announced after the game that left-hander Mike Minor has been scratched from his scheduled start on Sunday against the Astros due to tightness in his left shoulder. Minor had been healthy over the first two weeks of camp, but experienced the issue on Tuesday. The Braves said he is being held out for “precautionary reasons.”

At the plate:

The first inning was a fine example of the kind of run-scoring the Braves are hoping to tap into throughout 2015. Eric Young Jr. and Jace Peterson each drew walks, with Young immediately swiping his first bag of the spring. Freddie Freeman roped a single before Jonny Gomes tied the game with a sacrifice fly that plated Young. A.J. Pierzynski delivered the go-ahead RBI with a two-out single to make it a 2-1 game. There was nothing to be had with the bats over the final eight innings, but not much should be drawn from that. At least not yet, as Atlanta played this one without the services of Andrelton Simmons, Nick Markakis, Christian Bethancourt and Melvin Upton Jr. Bethancourt should be behind the plate on Thursday afternoon in Lakeland.

Of note: Freeman finished his day with a hit and a walk in two trips to the plate… Peterson got the start at shortstop in place of Andrelton Simmons and collected a double and two walks… Simmons is still nursing a sore oblique and the Braves figure to give him a little more time to recuperate before he makes his spring debut… Top prospect Jose Peraza pinch-ran for Chris Johnson in the bottom of the fourth inning, but was promptly picked off by Jon Velasquez. Peraza stayed in to play second base. He flew out twice and finished 0-for-2.

On the mound:

Veterans Wandy Rodriguez and Chien-Ming Wang are both vying for the fifth starter’s job, but each had to deal with a few base runners in this one. Rodriguez made the start and allowed a run on two hits, two walks and struck out one in his only inning of work. Wang allowed three hits and hit a batter, but also struck out three in two scoreless innings.

Luis Avilan, Mauricio Cabrera and Brady Fiegl all fired blank frames, while Donnie Veal worked 1-1/3 scoreless… Capps was touched up for two runs in the 5th, while Jose Veras was not effective whatsoever. He surrendered five earned runs on three walks and two hits, including a three-run homer by Johnny Monell in the sixth inning.

Up next: Braves @ Tigers – Thursday, March 5, at 1:05 p.m.

RHP Julio Teheran vs. RHP Alfredo Simon.

Grant McAuley covers the Braves for Sports Radio 92-9 The Game. You can follow Grant on Twitter.

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