Atlanta Braves' Troy Snitker loses his helmet as he swings during a spring training baseball game against the New York Mets in Port St. Lucie, Fla. on Saturday.
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Jonathon Niese is happy with his new changeup.
Niese allowed six hits — all singles — in 5 1-3 scoreless innings Saturday, but the Mets lost to an Atlanta Braves’ split squad, 3-2.
Niese struck out three, walked none and hit a batter — Braves starter Kris Medlen. He threw 49 of 72 pitches for strikes and induced two double plays, both times with sinkers.
Medlen has thrown just two innings in each of his first two outings.
“I just wanted to keep the pitch count down, throw strikes and get ahead of guys,” Medlen said. “I have no hesitation at all, no restrictions. My confidence is pretty high right now, but I’m still pitching exactly the way I used to. I’m attacking hitters and being aggressive and letting my fielders work.”
Daniel Murphy had two hits, including a two-run single in the sixth against Sean Gilmartin. David Ross hit a go-ahead, two-run double in a three-run eighth inning off Ramon Ramirez that also included Matt Diaz’s RBI single.
Martin Prado, Jason Heyward and Ross each had two hits for the Braves. Heyward also stole a base.
Braves 5, Blue Jays 3
KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Dan Uggla appears to be on track for a much better start this season, and Brandon Beachy is getting closer to being ready for opening day, too.
Uggla homered in his third straight game and Beachy struck out six in four innings while giving up two hits as the Atlanta Brave rolled by Toronto in a split-squad game Saturday.
Uggla, who didn’t play Friday, connected with a man on in the sixth inning off Blue Jays prospect Deck McGuire and is batting .310 with four homers and nine RBIs this spring.
The second baseman had been known as a notoriously poor spring hitter and his struggles carried over to the first half last season, his first year with the Braves. That’s why he brought a new mindset to camp this year.
“I want to be aggressive. I’m not just going up there with the idea of just watching pitches,” Uggla said. “I was too passive before. Now if I get a fastball, I’m attacking it. I changed my whole approach. I don’t know why it took me so many years to figure it out.”
Uggla began last season in a slump that lasted nearly three months. But he then put together a 33-game hitting streak and ended the year with a career-best 36 homers.
“I’m glad he’s on our side,” Beachy said. “He’s crushing the ball.”
Beachy was 7-3 with a 3.68 ERA and ranked second among rookies in the majors last season with 169 strikeouts. But he had trouble making it past the sixth inning because of high pitch counts.
By throwing more strikes, Beachy hopes to work longer into games for the Braves this season, and his third spring outing was encouraging.
“It was definitely a step in the right direction,” the right-hander said. “I never let my control leave me.”
Beachy had walked five in his previous start and came in with a 9.00 ERA. But he walked only one and the Blue Jays’ run against him came after a popup to shallow left field ended up a triple.
“I felt much more comfortable,” Beachy said. “I threw some good ones with all my pitches.”
Chipper Jones and Michael Bourn each had two hits for the Braves. Catching prospect Christian Bethancourt also had two hits. Rookie shortstop Tyler Pastornicky drove in a pair of runs with a sacrifice fly and a single.