Atlanta’s Jason Heyward throws his bat after flying out against the Cardinals in the fourth inning of Monday’s game, which the Braves lost, 4-3.
KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Carlos Beltran is more concerned with health than spring training stats.
Entering with a .190 average in eight exhibition games, Carlos Beltran hit his first home run for the St. Louis Cardinals, a leadoff drive off Julio Teheran in the sixth inning during Monday’s 4-3 win against the Atlanta Braves (5-12-2).
Beltran, who signed a free agent after splitting last year between the New York Mets and San Francisco Giants, also had a single. His home run went deep over the right-field fence.
“I think that was a pretty good indication of his strength,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. “He wristed that and it was a rocket. He’s getting close and that pretty good timing for us.”
St. Louis gave Beltran a $26 million, two-year contract following the departure of Albert Pujols. The Cardinals are confident the switch-hitter can provide run production if his troublesome knees don’t sidetrack him.
“I’m just happy that I feel good physically,” Beltran said. “I haven’t been concentrating on results. I knew that would come. My focus is on staying healthy. I’ve been working hard and my knee feels good.”
A bout with the flu and a sore shoulder did keep Beltran out of a few games, cutting the at-bats he needs to get his timing down.
“I don’t care who you are, you want to see hits as you get ready for the season,” Matheny said.
Cardinals starter Lance Lynn pitched four perfect innings, then allowed one run, two hits, a walk and a sacrifice fly in the fifth. He is being prepared to join the rotation if Chris Carpenter isn’t ready to start the season.
“I thought he did a great job,” Matheny said. “His pitch count was exactly where we wanted it and he’ll be stronger the next time out.”
Lynn pitched three scoreless innings in his first start last Wednesday against the Houston Astros, allowing two hits and no walks while striking out three.
“I was able to get louse quicker this time,” he said. “I didn’t get tired in the fifth inning. It was more than I rushed things out of the stretch.”
The 24-year-old had a 2.22 ERA in 16 regular-season relief appearances for St. Louis after being promoted from Triple-A Memphis, then had two wins and a 3.27 ERA during the postseason run to the World Series title.
Carpenter has been limited since March 3 because of a bulging disk in his neck. He threw batting practice for the first time since the injury on Sunday.
“It’s a luxury to have plenty of time to get ready this spring if they need me to start,” Lynn said. “I have a chance to work on all my pitches. If I’m in the bullpen, I’ll have three or four pitches to work with instead of two.”
Matt Carpenter hit a two-run homer in the fourth against Randall Delgado.
Brian McCann hit his first exhibition homer, a seventh-inning drive off Mitchell Boggs. Yadier Molina had two doubles and drove in a run for the Cardinals.
Rookie right-handers Delgado and Teheran, both rookie right-hander, are competing for the fifth spot in the Braves rotation. Delgado struck out five and walked three in five innings, while Teheran fanned four and gave up two walks in four innings.
“I’m getting better every start,” said Delgado, who regretted only on pitch. “I left the changeup up,” he said of Carpenter’s homer. “It tried to get too perfect.”
Teheran has allowed nine homers in 13 spring training innings, including six in one outing.
“His fastball command is not where he wants it to be,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
NOTES: The designated hitter wasn’t used for the first time this spring training n a game involving the Cardinals or Braves. … Kyle Lohse is scheduled to pitch for the Cardinals on Tuesday as they stay in Kissimmee to play the Houston Astros. He will be the first St. Louis pitcher to make his fourth start. … The Braves play the Detroit Tigers in Lakeland on Tuesday with Jair Jurrjens pitching against AL MVP and Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander. … Former relief ace Gene Garber is serving as a Braves guest instructor this week.