SAN FRANCISCO -- Julio Teheran has established himself as reliable piece of Atlanta's starting rotation, allowing three runs or less in each of his past three starts and lasting at least seven innings in two of those outings.
As Teheran progressed through his first five starts of this season, he was reluctant to throw his changeup because of an inability to command the pitch on a consistent basis. But the off-speed pitch once again became a key part of the 22-year-old right-hander's arsenal, as he limited the Giants to three runs in seven innings on Thursday night.
During Thursday's win, Teheran threw 10 changeups, which were six fewer than the total he threw in his previous five starts. He credited his improved ability to command the pitch on the decision to go back to the grip he utilized during his early Minor League days, when his changeup helped establish him as one of the game's top pitching prospects.
"I think the one thing Major League hitting coaches can't do with a Major League hitter or any hitter is take him down in the cages and say we're going to work on hitting a changeup today," Braves bench coach Carlos Tosca said. "It's such a key pitch for a starting pitcher. It allows you to get to your other pitches. It allows you to keep them off-balance."
Heyward feels 'normal' soreness after first rehab game
SAN FRANCISCO -- Jason Heyward was kept out of Triple-A Gwinnett's lineup on Friday night because of normal soreness that developed after he played his first game in nearly three weeks on Thursday.
"He was a little sore this morning," Braves general manager Frank Wren said via text message. "Normal when getting up to game speed."
Heyward went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts and a walk in the six plate appearances he compiled for Gwinnett during Thursday's loss to Pawtucket. This marked the first time the right fielder had played since undergoing an appendectomy on April 22.
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said there was a possibility Heyward could be activated from the disabled list as soon as Monday. But the team has not set a definite date for his return.
Wren said Heyward will continue his Minor League rehab stint until he is feeling healthy and gets his timing back at the plate.
Tosca sticking to game plan while filling in as manager
SAN FRANCISCO -- Carlos Tosca has served as a Major League manager and has aspirations to do so again. But while serving as the Braves manager in Fredi Gonzalez's absence this weekend, Tosca will not attempt to make any earth-shattering decisions that would conflict with Gonzalez's managerial philosophies.
"Managing somebody else's team is not exactly what I call managing," Tosca said. "It's an honor to do it. It's an honor to do it for the Atlanta Braves. But we're going to go on with business as usual here. This is Fredi's team and the Atlanta Braves' team. We're going to try to be as consistent as we can depending on what the situation gives us."
Gonzalez will miss Friday and Saturday's games against the Giants while attending his daughter's graduation from Georgia Southern University. He discussed lineup plans with Tosca before leaving San Francisco early Friday morning.
Tosca also served as the bench coach for Gonzalez when he managed the Marlins. Their relationship dates back to 1982, when Gonzalez was an 18-year-old catcher for a Gulf Coast League Yankees club managed by Tosca. They were reunited as Minor League managers in the Marlins system.
"There is not going to be anything unveiled that is not consistent with what [Gonzalez] does," said Tosca, who was 191-191 while serving as Toronto's manager from 2002-04.
• Although Jonny Venters hopes to avoid surgery, he did not receive much encouragement when his left elbow again bothered him as he threw 15 pitches off the bullpen mound on Friday afternoon. Venters also felt elbow discomfort on Thursday, when he threw off the mound for the first time since receiving a platelet-rich-plasma injection on April 2.
• The Braves will have to make a roster decision once Jason Heyward is activated from the disabled list. It appears Jordan Schafer and Reed Johnson are locks to remain on the active roster. There is a chance the team could attempt to trade Gerald Laird. But it seems more likely that the Braves will go from a seven-man bullpen to a six-man bullpen to create a roster spot for Heyward.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.