LAKELAND, Florida — Despite some poor spring training outings, Alfredo Simon says he was never worried.
"I feel better today," Simon said Monday after allowing one run in six innings in the Detroit Tigers' 4-2 loss to the Atlanta Braves.
"I just need to get it over the plate and throw my pitches. That's the key. I'm ready for the season now. I am comfortable."
An All-Star last year when he went 15-10 for Cincinnati, Simon had allowed 13 runs in his previous three outings. After leaving the ball up earlier in spring training, he was pleased with his location.
"I kept it down today, and if I can keep doing that, I'm ready," Simon said.
Simon gave up five hits, walked three and struck out two. He lowered his ERA to 5.56.
"Simon threw well," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "He fell behind too many times, but he was more efficient today. He's ready."
Yoenis Cespedes had two hits, including his fifth home run. Ian Kinsler also had two hits for the Tigers, who started the batting order expected to take the field in the opener against Minnesota on April 6.
Todd Cunningham and Jace Peterson both had three hits for the Braves, and Christian Bethancourt homered.
Braves: Mike Foltynewicz, trying to earn one of the final spots in the Braves' rotation, allowed two runs and five hits in 3 2-3 innings.
"I'm happy with it," said Foltynewicz, who was acquired from Houston during the offseason. "If you take away a couple of those hits, I felt great. I am just trying to be a pitcher now instead of a thrower."
He allowed the long home run to Cespedes, but said he got over it right away.
"In the past I might have become unraveled," he said. "I'm just taking baby steps now."
Braves: OF Nick Markakis went 0 for 3 and is hitless in his last 13 at-bats. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said he still has Markakis penciled in for opening day. Markakis is recovering from fusion surgery to repair a herniated disk in his neck.
Tigers: Justin Verlander will miss his scheduled start Thursday. Verlander left Friday's outing with a cramp in his right triceps. He threw on Sunday but still had soreness on Monday. Ausmus said that he expects Verlander to pitch April 8 but Anibal Sanchez would move up if necessary.
"We just have to wait and see," Ausmus said. "He has to pitch sometime before the regular season."
Ausmus said it was possible that Verlander will throw in a minor league game before the team heads north.
Braves: Wandy Rodriguez will make his sixth start, against the Astros. Hoping to make the rotation, Rodriguez allowed one run in his first 13 innings before giving up four over five innings in his last start.
Tigers: Opening day starter David Price goes against Pittsburgh.
STATING HIS CASE
Braves: Eric Stultz finished with five scoreless innings of one-hit ball for the Braves, lowering his ERA to 1.89. He's among several candidates for a spot in the Braves' rotation.
"He's getting the job done and learning how to be a pitcher," Gonzalez said. "He is learning he doesn't have to throw the ball 100 miles per hour."
ANOTHER ROUGH OUTING
Tigers: Joba Chamberlain was hit hard again, allowing two runs, four hits and a walk in two-thirds of an inning. The Joker Marchant fans cheered when Ausmus walked to the mound to replace Chamberlain, who has an 8.22 ERA.
"This is a time to try things," he said. "I'm just working on things. That's what spring training is for. I'll get over it and settle down. Nobody get out of spring training with a zero ERA."
Ausmus is discounting everything he's seen from Chamberlain.
"You know I don't put a lot of stock into anything I see in spring training," Ausmus said. "Joba is the kind of pitcher who goes on adrenaline and it's hard to get a lot of adrenaline in spring training."
ON A TEAR
Tigers: Ian Kinsler went 2 for 3 to extend his hitting streak to nine games. He is batting .409 with five runs, three doubles, a homer, and seven RBIs during the streak.
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