LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Jonny Venters was happy to see that the Braves have cleared him to pitch an inning against the Nationals on Thursday. The left-handed reliever has spent the past 10 days resting and recovering from what the team termed "normal Spring Training soreness."
Venters was shut down after he continued to battle some inflammation around his left shoulder during his March 18 appearance against the Orioles. The 26-year-old reliever likened the ailment to what he battled while sidelined for a few days last season.
The Braves were happy when Venters reported no discomfort after completing a 25-pitch bullpen session on Tuesday at Champion Stadium.
"I felt really good," Venters said. "It feels like new now."
Despite missing a few days in early July last year, Venters still finished the season with a Major League-high 85 appearances. His 164 appearances over the past two seasons also rank as the Majors' highest total.
On both ends, Heyward displays potential
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- On Wednesday, Jason Heyward experienced one of those near-perfect days that might have been even more exhilarating had it occurred during the regular season. But there was still a sense of excitement in the Braves right fielder's voice as he talked about scaling one outfield wall and clearing another in dramatic fashion during a 5-5 tie with the Yankees at Champion Stadium.
"At this point right now, it kind of feels like the regular season," Heyward said. "We're down to the last six games right now. You want to be ready to go and you want to have those kinds of defensive plays and ABs already in your mind. I wish it was the regular season, but it kind of feels like it anyway."
Heyward showed off his tremendous ability as he reached his glove over the right-field wall to rob Raul Ibanez of a home run in the third inning. The 22-year-old then showed a flair for the dramatic when he hit a game-tying two-run homer off George Kontos with one out in the ninth inning. To cap off his memorable day, Heyward made a diving catch of Gustavo Molina's two-out sinking liner with runners on second and third base in the 10th inning.
"He did a little bit of everything," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "He showed us what he can do. He gave us a little appetizer for the season. He's been working so hard. If you follow him every day and don't look at the box scores, you see it. You see the aggressiveness that he's showing at the plate."
Along with producing encouraging plate appearances more consistently than his .209 batting average this spring might suggest, Heyward has impressed with the range he has shown in right field and on those occasions when he has been able to prove he can still handle the center-field position, if necessary.
But Heyward certainly hadn't done anything as impressive previously as his third-inning catch, which saw him race toward the right-field line, vault to the top of the wall and snare Ibanez's home run bid.
"It was one of those that you'd like to think you can catch off the bat, and then it kept going," Heyward said. "He put a good enough swing, and the wind held it up enough for me to get there."
Braves pitcher Brandon Beachy provided a more descriptive account of the defensive gem that aided his outing.
"My first instinct was, 'Oh, there's a home run,'" Beachy said. "Then I look at Jason to see if he's going to even turn around, and instantly I knew he was going to catch that ball. He made that play look easy. He made it look like a four-foot picket fence."
Competitive spirit takes hold of Beachy
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Brandon Beachy concluded Wednesday's six-inning effort against the Yankees in impressive fashion and with the same kind of competitive aggression that he plans to utilize once the regular season arrives.
"Those last three innings, I think I really found something that I've been missing all spring, and it really showed," Beachy said. "The seriousness is starting to set in. In the back of my mind, I've been trying to work on stuff and get stuff done. When I look at it now, I was kind of going [through my previous starts] like it was a bullpen [session]."
Beachy will carry some added confidence when he makes his final start of the Grapefruit League season next week. The Braves right-hander retired the final 10 Yankees he faced on Wednesday and was not too concerned with the three runs -- two earned -- he allowed in his first three innings.
"After today, I think I could go out there and compete," said Beachy, who had posted a 6.43 ERA in his previous four Grapefruit League starts this year.
Beachy was fortunate that Jason Heyward scaled the right-field wall to deny Raul Ibanez of a home run in New York's two-run third inning. But the right-hander also encountered some misfortune in the first inning, when he was nearly perfect before umpires ruled that Mark Teixeira checked his swing with two strikes. Teixeira followed with the first of three consecutive soft two-out singles.
"I thought I had Teixeira struck out to end the inning, and then I gave up three straight singles," Beachy said. "But again, with all of those pitches, I was pretty happy for the most part. They get to play, and they're going to find holes sometimes."
Braves will let Hudson pitch in spring game
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Braves will grant Tim Hudson his wish to pitch in a Major League game before the end of Spring Training. Hudson will pitch at least one inning as the Braves conclude the Florida portion of their exhibition schedule on Monday afternoon against the Mets.
"I should be good to go, unless I get hit by a car between now and then," Hudson said.
Hudson has not experienced any setbacks since he was cleared to begin throwing off a mound on March 14. The 36-year-old veteran right-hander was behind schedule at the start of Spring Training as he recovered from a surgical procedure performed on his back on Nov. 28.
The Braves are hoping that Hudson can join their rotation during the April 27-30 series against the Pirates in Atlanta.
The Braves have acquired Minor League outfielder Christian Marrero from the White Sox for undisclosed cash considerations. The 25-year-old outfielder hit .293 with 12 home runs and an .861 on-base-plus-slugging percentage while playing for Double-A Birmingham last year. He will begin this season with Triple-A Gwinnett.
As long as Julio Teheran does not experience any further right shoulder discomfort, he will likely start Sunday's Grapefruit League game against the Phillies. Teheran has not pitched since experiencing some stiffness around the right shoulder during his March 19 appearance against the Cardinals.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.