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Opening spring training with a six-game losing streak certainly wasn't an ideal scenario, but Atlanta finally picked up its first Grapefruit League victory Tuesday over division rival Washington, which is something that the Braves hope will become a regular occurrence during the regular season.
Pitching and defense have cost the Braves early, and while the bulk of the poor play has come from players not expected to make the roster, some of Atlanta's regulars have significant work to do before Opening Day.
Brandon Beachy (pictured) was roughed up by Houston for two runs and five hits, needing 43 pitches to get through 1.2 innings of work. It was his first game action since undergoing surgery on his right elbow in September—the second elbow surgery he's undergone in the past 19 months.
As he told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's David O'Brien, he's not worried.
"At least for the first few (starts), I’m going to be more concerned with (how it feels) tomorrow morning than anything that happens on the field tonight," Beachy said. "So we’ll see tomorrow morning. I’m pretty optimistic."
If Beachy isn't ready for the start of the regular season, 37-year-old Freddy Garcia could take his place in the rotation. Garcia, who made an inspired start for the Braves in Game 4 of the NLDS against Los Angeles last year, has tossed five innings of perfect baseball over two starts this spring, fanning five.
Offensively, the two players under the most pressure to show signs of improvement this spring, center fielder B.J. Upton and second baseman Dan Uggla, are heading in different directions.
Despite showing up to camp with reworked mechanics at the plate and a shorter swing, via MLB.com's Mark Bowman, Upton has mustered only two hits over his first 14 plate appearances, striking out five times.
While Uggla has yet to take extra bases on any of his three hits this spring, the 33-year-old is working deep counts, drawing walks and getting on base far more consistently than he did at any point in 2013. That's good news for the Braves, who need at least that much from Uggla near the bottom of the lineup.