Braves give Beachy job as fifth starter

Brandon Beachy 

Brandon Beachy 

KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Brandon Beachy and Mike Minor plan to share a place to live somewhere in Atlanta, but they won’t be heading to work in the same direction.

Beachy will be driving to Turner Field and working at the beginning of the season as the Braves’ fifth starter. Minor is set to make the trip to Coolray Field and will likely be the G-Braves’ pitcher on opening night.

Minor was optioned to Gwinnett on Thursday, giving Beachy the fifth spot in the Atlanta rotation.

“It was a tough decision,” Braves general manager Frank Wren said.

Beachy, 24, has a 1.80 ERA in three Grapefruit League games, striking out 10 and walking three in 10 innings. The right-hander pitched in three games for Atlanta at the end of last season after making stops in Class AA and Class AAA

“Obviously, I’m happy about it,” Beachy said. “I’m excited about the opportunity. I’m hoping to get some wins and be a big contributor to us reaching our goals.”

Minor, 23, went into spring training considered the favorite to win the job, partly because he would give the Braves a left-handed starter. The seventh overall pick in the 2009 draft also pitched well this spring, posting a 0.90 ERA while striking out seven and walking four in 10 innings.

“I felt I pitched pretty well,” Minor said. “I thought it could have gone to either of us.”

Beachy is scheduled to follow Derek Lowe, Tommy Hanson, Tim Hudson and Jair Jurrjens in the Atlanta rotation. His first start would be April 6 in Milwaukee.

The only thing that could change that would be the health of Jurrjens, who left the Braves’ 5-3 victory against the Blue Jays at Dunedin after one inning as a precaution with what he believes may have been just a cramp in his right side.

If Jurrjens isn’t ready to start the season, the Braves could turn to veteran Rodrigo Lopez or recall Minor.

As of now, though, Minor will likely be starting April 7 against Durham in the G-Braves’ opener at Coolray Field.

“I just wanted an answer and I got it,” Minor said of his meeting early Thursday morning with Wren and others. “Now I can focus on getting ready for the season at AAA. It’s going to be good for me to work on my curveball and hopefully go back up when I have command of all three of my pitches.”

Beachy wasn’t drafted and started last season as a relief pitcher in the minors. But he was 3-1 with a 1.47 ERA for Class AA Mississippi and then 2-0 with a 2.17 ERA for Gwinnett. He went 0-2 with a 3.00 ERA at the end of the season for Atlanta.

“We just feel Brandon gives us a better chance to win right now,” Wren said.

Minor was 3-2 with a 5.98 ERA in nine games for Atlanta last year and set a Braves rookie record with a 12-strikeout performance against the Cubs.

With the G-Braves, Minor was 4-1 and had a 1.89 ERA in six starts after beginning the season at Mississippi and going 2-6 with a 4.03 ERA. He had 146 strikeouts over 1201⁄3 innings in the minors and 43 in 402⁄3 innings with Atlanta.