KISSIMMEE, Fla. — David Hale provided a bright spot for the Atlanta Braves’ beleaguered rotation, allowing one run in four innings while striking out three to lead the Braves past the Tampa Bay Rays 6-1 on Friday.
With Braves starters Brandon Beachy and Kris Medlen possibly facing Tommy John surgery and Mike Minor sidelined and possibly out for Opening Day, Hale pithed impressively. He was 1-0 with a 0.82 ERA in two starts for Atlanta last season.
Hale entered the spring hoping for a shot at one of the final spots in the rotation if a starter went down.
Julio Teheran and Alex Wood are the only two remaining of the five that entered camp as the leading candidates.
The Braves signed free agent Ervin Santana to a $14.1 million deal on Wednesday, but the lack of depth is still a concern for Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, who said that Hale’s effort came at the right time.
“(Hale) threw some good stuff today,” Gonzalez said. “(Catcher Gerald) Laird said the same thing. He looked good for us.”
Hale lowered his spring ERA to 4.50.
“It was unbelievable,” Hale said. “This really gives me confidence. I just want the opportunity. Of course I am confident. My sinker is working and it gives me the confidence I need.”
Chris Archer went 4⅔ innings in his longest stint of the spring for Tampa Bay.
He allowed a run while striking out six and lowering his spring ERA to 0.90.
Joey Terdoslavich and Ernesto Mejia homered for Atlanta.
STARTING TIME: Archer said he felt better than he has all spring. It was his third start and he’s held the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, and Braves to only one earned run.
“I could have done things a little better, but getting into the fifth inning was good enough for me,” Archer said. “I had some problems but you can’t have you’re A-plus stuff every day. The next couple of games are just to get better.”
Rays catcher Jose Molina said Archer seems just about ready.
“He was amazing,” Molina said. “The way the ball was coming out of his hand was unbelievable. He can pitch like that anytime. Hopefully he can keep pitching just the way he is now.”
TRAINER’S ROOM: Archer tweaked his right ankle on a play at first base in the first inning when he had a slight collision with Jason Heyward. Archer threw some warmup pitches and kept going and said he had no pain. … Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons has had a sore knee. He played five innings on Friday and will rest today.
COMING OUT OF A SLUMP: Terdoslavich, who batted .215 in 55 games for the Braves last year, had a homer, went 2 for 2 with three RBI. His average is only .154, but Gonzalez is still excited about his prospects. He can play outfield and first base.
“Turdo is swinging the bat really well,” Gonzalez said. “He’s looking like he’s finally starting to come around. He’s starting to look like he did when he came up last year.”
BONUS TIME: In addition to his base salary, Santana would earn $250,000 if he is an All-Star, $100,000 if he’s a league championship series MVP and $250,000 if he’s the World Series MVP. He would get $500,000 for winning a Cy Young Award, $250,000 for finishing second in the voting and $100,000 for finishing third.