KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Mike Minor compares last season to a nasty roller-coaster ride, one that would rival any of the bone-rattling behemoths at Six Flags Over Georgia.
He’s hoping for a smoother trip this year.
The Atlanta Braves left-hander got off to rocky start to 2012, being roughed up in his debut against the Mets.
After two positive performances, he spent the next two months watching a lot of balls sail over fences.
But Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez never lost faith in Minor and kept him in the rotation.
Gonzalez said he didn’t consider replacing Minor during a stretch in which his ERA was over 6.00 in June.
“He was in the rotation and we weren’t dropping him,” Gonzalez said. “I felt he could turn it around.”
The patience paid off.
Minor ended June with a win over Washington, and went 7-4 the rest of the way, winning his last five decisions. With the Braves fighting for a playoff spot, Minor was 4-0 with a 0.87 ERA in September.
He finished the season 11-10 and a 4.12 ERA.
Minor is slated to be the No. 3 starter in Atlanta’s rotation behind Tim Hudson and Kris Medlen.
INDIANS: Daisuke Matsuzaka has officially joined revitalized Cleveland.
The Japanese right-hander, limited to just 18 starts the past two seasons because of elbow issues, signed a minor-
league contract Wednesday. The 32-year-old is being reunited with manager Terry Francona, beginning his first season with the Indians.
The two spent several seasons together with the Boston Red Sox.
YANKEES: Added depth to their bullpen Wednesday night, acquiring right-hander Shawn Kelley from the Seattle Mariners for minor league outfielder Abraham Almonte.
The 28-year-old Kelley went 2-4 with a 3.25 ERA in 47 appearances for Seattle last season and figures to fill a middle-relief role with the Yankees.
PADRES: Suspended catcher Yasmani Grandal plans to apologize to his teammates this weekend.
Grandal was banned in November for the first 50 games of the season after testing positive for performance-
He hasn’t publicly discussed the penalty beyond an initial statement, but plans to talk to the team on Sunday.
METS: Owner Fred Wilpon says the team’s trimmed-down $83 million payroll has more to do with patience than a spending freeze.
Wilpon watched the club’s first official workout Wednesday and said the Mets are in better financial shape than in the past.
The Mets had a relatively quiet off-season aside from locking up All-Star third baseman David Wright for another eight years and $138 million and bringing in pitcher Shaun Marcum on a one-year $4 million deal.
But Wilpon said general manager Sandy Alderson isn’t under any strict monetary limitations and “the family is doing very well” financially.
That wasn’t the case in the past when Wilpon and Mets management were busy paying off debts and working on damage caused by the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme case. Ownership settled on the Madoff case last spring.