TAMPA, Fla. -- The Braves got their first look Sunday at right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, the much-hyped Japanese right-hander the Yankees signed this offseason, and came away impressed.
Tanaka held a lineup full of Atlanta's everyday players to just one run on three hits and two walks while striking out six over 4 1/3 innings. The Braves forced Tanaka to run his pitch count to 74, but didn't make much solid contact. Jason Heyward tapped out back to the mound in the first inning, then after B.J. Upton's ground-ball single up the middle, Tanaka struck out Freddie Freeman swinging and Justin Upton on a called third strike.
"He looked good. That split-finger he's got, it's a good pitch. It's a swing-and-miss pitch," Freeman said. "He spots up his fastball. I was watching it on TV when I came out of the game. He's able to go in and out, and that split-finger's a swing-and-miss pitch. he can throw it for a strike and also get you to chase on it. He looked real good."
"He's not throwing the ball 100 [mph], but his stuff is definitely effective and definitely blends well. He's pretty tough," second baseman Tommy La Stella added. "He can command all his pitches. Anytime you've got a guy like that, he is going to be tough to hit. He kept us off-balance. He pitched backwards."
Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez also took note of Tanaka's wide-ranging arsenal, the life on his fastball and the movement on his offspeed pitches. But Gonzalez was also impressed by the 25-year-old's poise on the mound, which should bode well for him while pitching in the spotlight of New York.
"This guy's pitched on some big stages, and I think he's going to be on the big stage in New York," Gonzalez said. "I don't think he's going to have any problem."
Heyward said the key to success against Tanaka will be patience. He was just the opposite in his first at-bat when he swung at the first pitch Tanaka threw.
"Like a lot of guys with good mix-and-match stuff, you want to be patient against him, go up there and try to get your pitch to hit," Heyward said. "He wants you to put the ball in play early and he's going to try to miss your barrel. Plain and simple, like a lot of other guys."
Freeman, Doumit exit with bruised fingers
TAMPA, Fla. -- A pair of bruised fingers forced Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman and catcher Ryan Doumit to exit Sunday's 7-4 loss to the Yankees, but the club is hopeful that neither injury is serious.
Doumit left in the second inning after taking a foul tip off his bare right hand. The club diagnosed Doumit with a right middle finger bruise, and precautionary X-rays came back negative. Freeman, meanwhile, suffered a left thumb bruise while trying to snag a line drive down the first-base line in the second inning.
Freeman said his hand began to swell up almost immediately after the ball hit him.
"It caught me clean on the hand. There's no point in trying to be a hero in Spring Training, especially when we're getting close to the end," Freeman said. "[I'll] just put some ice on it for the next couple days and see where we go from there."
Freeman was held out of the 2013 All-Star Game with a jammed left thumb, but said this injury didn't seem to be as severe.
"I have hand problems every single year, it seems like," Freeman said. "But this one's not too bad, I don't think. We'll be all right."
With Julio Teheran pitching in the second, Yankees designated hitter Pete O'Brien fouled a pitch back at Doumit, which hit his exposed throwing hand, sending him straight to the dugout and out of the game. Christian Bethancourt replaced him behind the plate.
"I don't know if you were close to the field, but hearing that, it was clean. When you see someone walk off the field right away, it's unfortunate," Freeman said. "I think he's going to be all right. Hopefully he's OK. He was in high spirits before he left here, so hopefully we'll get some good news."
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez was also optimistic that Doumit won't miss much time. Gonzalez said he could see the mark the stitches from the baseball left on Doumit's hand, but the veteran catcher was moving his fingers around not long after leaving the game.
With all the recent injuries the Braves have sustained, from the major pitching injuries to Sunday's dings and dents, Gonzalez said he's reached the point where he just wants to get everybody else to Opening Day with a clean bill of health.
"The last four or five games, you wish you could call the Commissioner and say, 'Our team's ready. Let's start the season. We don't have to play another five,'" Gonzalez said. "I'm sure everybody feels that way but we can't, we can't do that. Every time there's a little flinch or somebody goes down or you get one of those crazy [injuries], you start worrying. I think we're going to be OK there."
McCann says Teheran 'turning into an ace'
TAMPA, Fla. -- With Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy facing the likelihood of season-ending Tommy John surgery, the Braves' need for Julio Teheran to perform like a No. 1 starter was only intensified. The good news, according to his former catcher, is that he looks ready for that top billing.
"He's turning into an ace. He's turning into a top-of-the-rotation pitcher," Yankees catcher Brian McCann said after going up against him Sunday at George M. Steinbrenner Field. "To face him and to see the ball explode out of his hand, it kind of gives you a different look. The sky's the limit for him."
Teheran held the Yankees to one run on five hits and a walk while striking out five over four innings in Atlanta's 7-4 loss. He ran into some trouble in the first inning, giving up a double to leadoff man Ichiro Suzuki and a single to Eduardo Nunez, but responded with three straight strikeouts: Mark Teixeira, McCann and Kelly Johnson.
"Outstanding. He mixed his pitches well," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "He had a little jam there in the first inning with the meat of their order coming up and got out of that jam, punched out a couple guys. He did a nice job, he really did."
Teheran went 14-8 with a 3.20 ERA in 30 starts last year as a rookie, and the lone run he surrendered in the second inning Sunday was the first time he's been scored upon all spring. Overall, the right-hander has given up 11 hits and two walks while striking out 13 in as many innings.
"[I'm] just commanding my pitches, and I think that I've been doing well," Teheran said. "Just starting to feel ready, ready for the season."
Pastornicky cleared to return, plays in Minors game
TAMPA, Fla. -- Braves infielder Tyler Pastornicky was cleared for game action Saturday and got back on the field for the first time Sunday, playing four innings at second base and taking four at-bats in a Minor League game.
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said Pastornicky was cleared to play after clearing the final hurdle -- sliding drills -- in his recovery from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. If the rest of this week goes well, Gonzalez said, Atlanta plans to call up Pastornicky to play in one of the Braves' split-squad games on Friday afternoon.
Pastornicky will take off Monday and play in Minor League games Tuesday and Thursday. Atlanta's training staff has been impressed with how hard Pastornicky has worked during his rehabilitation, but it seems unlikely, at this point, that he will crack the Braves' Opening Day roster.
"I hate to say no, because you never know," Gonzalez said. "But I think the biggest thing is just make sure he gets out of here healthy."
Gonzalez also confirmed Sunday that injured pitchers Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy are still scheduled to be evaluated by Dr. James Andrews on Monday.