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Newcomb tunes up for season as Braves win

ATLANTA (AP) — Sean Newcomb still thinks of himself as a young pitcher.

Some of his new Braves teammates see Newcomb as a veteran with all the answers. That puts a different kind of pressure on the left-hander as he enters his third season.

Newcomb did not walk a batter in four innings and Pedro Florimon hit a ninth-inning grand slam off Jimmy Herget to lift Atlanta over the Cincinnati Reds 7-5 Tuesday in the last exhibition game for each team.

Among healthy starters, the 25-year-old Newcomb trails only Julio Teheran in seniority in a rotation that includes rookies Kyle Wright and Bryse Wilson.

“I would be younger on some other teams but here I’m kind of stuck in the middle, kind of knowing all those younger guys but also having been here for a couple years,” Newcomb said. “They kind of come to me for a lot of questions because it’s a little more comfortable for them.”

Mike Foltynewicz, a 2018 All-Star expected to be the team’s top starter, is recovering from a sore elbow. Kevin Gausman may recover from a sore shoulder in time to pitch in the Braves’ first home series next week. Max Fried, a 2018 rookie, is the probable No. 5 starter.

Newcomb was 12-9 with a 3.90 ERA last season. The left-hander faded after compiling a 2.59 ERA in his first 15 starts.

A key to Newcomb’s hopes of improved consistency is better control. He walked 15 batters in his first 17 innings this spring training but avoiding walks helped him give up only two runs on three hits to the Reds.

“I threw more strikes,” he said. “… I’m healthy, I’m feeling strong, my fastball is in a good spot and today my off-speed was in a good spot, too.”

Newcomb is scheduled to start Atlanta’s home opener against the Cubs on Monday. Teheran, Wilson and Wright will start in the opening series against Philadelphia this week.

•••

UP NEXT

Reds: RHP Luis Castillo will start when the Reds open at home against Pittsburgh on Thursday.

Braves: Teheran will make his sixth straight opening day start when Atlanta faces the Phillies and RHP Aaron Nola on Thursday.

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More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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