Braves starter Brandon Beachy had a 2.17 ERA in Triple A before the Braves called him up to the big leagues for that stretch run in 2010. He started 25 games last season — more than he started during his minor league career.
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Atlanta fans know the Brandon Beachy story. The rest of the baseball world may know it soon enough.
The Braves right-hander Beachy may go from being someone no Braves fan had heard of two years ago, to being the anchor of this year’s staff. He made his first major league start in a mid-September game in Philadelphia during the 2010 pennant run.
He was replacing Braves starter Jair Jurrjens back then. Now the 25-year-old Beachy needs to step up again with Tim Hudson sidelined until May with a back injury, and Tommy Hanson and Jurrjens battling minor injuries.
Longevity will be a key for Beachy this season.
He went at least seven innings in only two of his 25 starts last season. He is trying to limit his pitch count to go further into the late innings when he can turn the ball over to closer Craig Kimbrell.
“The strikeouts are nice,” Beachy said. “But I need to cut down on the pitches so I can get deeper into the game. This year I am concentrating on limiting my pitches.”
Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez has the same goal in mind instead of Beachy going after five quality innings.
“The fifth is the inning that gets to some pitchers,” Gonzalez said. “It would be perfect to get him to the eighth. But that kid has it all figured out.”
Not bad for somebody who estimates he might have thrown six innings for Northwestern High School in Kokomo, Ind. Beachy was an infielder who spent time as a closer at Indiana Wesleyan University.
He was discovered in a Virginia summer league by a Braves scout who offered a bonus to sign with nothing but potential on the horizon. He spent 2009 in the Braves low minors system.
Beachy had a 2.17 ERA in Triple A before the Braves called him up to the big leagues for that stretch run in 2010. He started 25 games last season — more than he started during his minor league career.
Beachy said he wasn’t expecting to make it to the majors as quickly as he did, but his attitude on and off the mound shows he feels like he belongs. He is a potential Opening Day starter, depending on the condition of Hanson and Jurrjens.
Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell said it is the mental toughness that makes Beachy an important member of Atlanta’s staff.
“We never rushed him,” McDowell said. “He’s a strong kid with a great work ethic. This year he will play a pivotal role on our staff.”
For now, Beachy is the No. 3 man in the rotation. By the time Hudson returns, it will be up to Beachy to see where he fits into the rotation.
Country music star, Macon’s Aldean works out with Braves in Fla.
KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Jason Aldean circled the bases, touched home plate and collapsed next to the batting cage, pulling his cap over his face.
“After lunch, let’s come back and do it again,” Atlanta Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez joked.
Sprawled on the ground and struggling to catch his breath, Aldean replied, “No, I’m good.”
The 35-year-old country music star and Macon native got a chance to live his other dream Thursday, working out for more than two hours with his favorite baseball team while trailed by a crew filming it all for a TV reality show.
Aldean didn’t make the team — with cameras rolling, Gonzalez and general manager Frank Wren told the singer he had been “cut” after the workout — but by all accounts the former high school player held up well alongside such stars as Chipper Jones, Dan Uggla and Brian McCann.
“Not bad,” Jones said. “He’s a little more athletic than we’re used to seeing from our normal celebs.”
“He’s the best celebrity I’ve seen, by far. Not even close,” the manager said. “You can tell he’s got a little background in baseball.”
Wearing uniform No. 9, Aldean started out taking grounders at first base, scooping up a few low throws. Then he got some solid wood on the ball during his turn in the batting cage, his longest drive landing on the warning track and short-hopping off the fence. Finally, he joined the team for baserunning drills, tailing along at the end of the pack.
Aldean was taping a segment for the reality show “Day Jobs,” which airs on the country music cable network GAC. Normally, the show follows artists as they return to jobs they held before becoming famous, but he had no desire to go back to his old line of work.
“I was a delivery guy for Pepsi,” he said. “That was not cool. I was not going back and doing my old job. I worked too hard to not have to do that anymore. So they said, ‘What about we do kind of a dream job deal with you, where you get to do something with the Braves?’ I was like, ‘Now that I would be into.’ ”
“I’ve been a fan of this team for a long time,” Aldean said. “I grew up watching ‘em. To get to come out and do this today is a big honor for me.”
Except for an occasional game of softball, Aldean’s athletic career ended after he played first base at Windsor Academy in Macon. But he’s still got pretty good skills with the mitt.
“Sometimes you just close your eyes and hope it finds your glove,” Aldean quipped. “But I was pretty comfortable over there.”
The gap between him and the pros was a lot more pronounced in the batting cage.
“It almost looks like they’re barely swinging and the ball just jumps off their bats,” Aldean marveled. “But that’s why they do this for a living and why I don’t. It’s a little intimidating getting up there hitting in front of those guys.”
Recalling the movie “Major League,” Aldean felt a little like the Wesley Snipes character Willie Mays Hayes, a speedy outfielder who was punished every time he hit the ball in the air.
“I had a lot of popups,” Aldean said. “I started to drop down and do some push-ups.”
The episode will debut on April 4.
Aldean’s most recent album, “My Kinda Party,” received Album of the Year from the Country Music Association and was nominated for a Grammy. He plans to release a new album in October.
The Braves are short-handed at first base, where Freddie Freeman is expected to be out at least a week with a knee injury.
Still, the team passed on a chance to sign Aldean.
“We’ve got some roster issues right now,” Gonzalez said, struggling to contain a smile. “(But) we don’t have a spot on the roster (for him).”