Braves release RHP Freddy Garcia despite injuries (The Associated Press)

Atlanta released pitcher Freddy Garcia, who was contending for a spot in the Braves' battered rotation, and agreed to a $1 million, one-year contract with right-hander Aaron Harang. The team announced Garcia's unconditional release Monday on the deadline for him to be put on the major league roster - which would have triggered a $1.25 million guaranteed salary. I have to go,'' said Garcia, who started Game 4 of last year's NL division series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. The 37-year-old right-hander was cut despite a strong outing Sunday, when he limited the New York Mets to an unearned run and two hits over 5 1-3 innings.

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Dillon Gee to start Mets’ opener against Nationals (The Associated Press)

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (AP) -- Dillon Gee will start the New York Mets' opener at home against Washington on March 31. Mets manager Terry Collins informed Gee of the decision Monday. ''It's a big honor,'' Gee said. That's where I'm at.'' Jonathon Niese was expected to be the Mets' opening-day starter for the second straight year, but he has been sidelined by shoulder and elbow injuries.

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Nolasco shelled in Twins’ 9-1 loss to Mets (The Associated Press)

Ricky Nolasco allowed seven straight batters to reach in a seven-run first inning for the New York Mets, who beat the Minnesota Twins 9-1 Friday. The Twins' opening-day starter threw 43 pitches in the inning but he was encouraged that he didn't become fatigued. ''I think it would have been better if I would have told them what was coming.'' Five of the Mets' six hits in the inning went for extra bases, including Ike Davis' two-run double, Kirk Nieuwenhuis' triple and a two-run homer by No. 8 hitter Taylor Teagarden. STARTING TIME Mets: Right-hander Dillon Gee held the Twins to one run on five hits and no walks over 5 1-3 innings as he moved closer to an expected start on opening day.

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Ervin Santana makes Braves’ spring training debut (The Associated Press)

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (AP) -- Ervin Santana was surprised when Eric Young Jr., his first batter of spring training, bunted and reached on a single. Pretty much everything else went according to plan for Santana, who allowed one run over two innings Thursday in his first game for the Atlanta Braves, a 7-6 loss to the New York Mets. Signed to a $14.1 million, one-year contract on March 12 after season-ending elbow injuries to Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy, Santana allowed hits to his first two batters. After Ruben Tejada's single, Santana retired David Wright on a sacrifice fly that started a streak of six straight outs.

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Mets LHP Niese to open season on DL (The SportsXchange)

New York Mets left-hander Jonathon Niese will open the season on the disabled list, but is expected to still pitch in the team's first homestand, ESPN.com reported Thursday. The plan is for Niese, who was scheduled to start the March 31 season opener against the Washington Nationals, to pitch in the sixth game of the season on April 6 against the Cincinnati Reds. That is the first day Niese would be allowed to be activated from the disabled list. Niese received a cortisone injection in his left elbow Monday in New York to try to alleviate inflammation after undergoing an MRI.

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Cosart retires all 15 batters faced in Astros’ win (The Associated Press)

Jarred Cosart pitched five perfect innings Wednesday night, leading the Houston Astros to a 2-0 victory over the Washington Nationals. After the game, Nationals manager Matt Williams said Stephen Strasburg would make the opening-day start at the New York Mets on March 31. Cosart struck out nine, including six in a row and seven of eight. ''That's the best I've seen him as far as the sharpness of his off-speed stuff,'' Astros catcher Jason Castro said.

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Matt Harvey irked by Mets conditions for Tommy John rehab (Big League Stew)

Against the advice of team management, New York Mets right-hander Matt Harvey gave a one-on-one interview Tuesday morning with reporter Andy Martino of the New York Daily News . Harvey has some beefs with club big shots, particularly about where they want him to perform his rehab from Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery. Harvey also doesn't like that the Mets moved his spring training locker into "a closet" that he shares with another rehabbing pitcher, Jeremy Hefner. But that's almost a non-issue compared to the relatively important (to Harvey) rehab location. Harvey wants to rehab in New York, with the team, among his teammates and in the context of the major league season. The Mets want him to continue working at their facility in Port St. Lucie, Fla. — presumably, in part, to keep him away from the media and its obnoxious habit of asking questions. The Mets don't like Harvey talking to reporters and expressing how badly he wants to pitch at some point during the 2014 seasons. They don't want him setting unreasonable goals. They want him to use caution. He just wants to get back as soon as possible. And the best way to do that, Harvey told Martino, is to rehab in New York City: “The biggest part is wanting to stay with the team. To learn the league. To learn Travis (d’Arnaud, the catcher). To learn how to bond with the other starting pitchers, and the guys in the clubhouse, and the David Wrights who I plan on playing with.” And where does the front office stand on this? “I expressed that seven months in Port St. Lucie is a long time,” he said. “For me, I strongly felt that my best opportunity, and my motivation to come back quicker, stronger, work harder would be to be with the teammates. That’s kind of what I have always said. I have worked so hard to get to the big leagues and be with this team, it just felt like all of a sudden I was shooed to the back.” Why does he say that? “It’s just the fact that I have been not allowed to talk to anybody, and that every tweet or Instagram I send is, do not write,” Harvey said. “My locker -- me and (Jeremy Hefner, also rehabbing) was basically in a closet. I didn’t think that was right. I don’t know exactly who was in charge of the situation. [“That was a decision made by clubhouse personnel,” GM Sandy Alderson later told me].

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Niese (elbow) exits early, Mets top Cardinals 10-4 (The Associated Press)

Jonathon Niese lasted only two innings for a New York Mets split squad Sunday, leaving a 10-4 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals with a sore left elbow. Niese will head back to New York for tests, the latest setback for the left-hander in what he described as ''the spring training from hell.'' He is expected to have an MRI exam Monday, and it's unclear when he might pitch again. ''It's the back of the elbow, which is good,'' Niese said. ''I'm almost 100 percent sure it's nothing serious.'' Adam Wainwright had a rocky outing in his third start this spring, allowing three runs and seven hits in 4 1-3 innings for the Cardinals.

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Young hits 1st spring HR as Mets and Twins tie (The Associated Press)

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (AP) -- New York Mets outfielder Chris Young has prided himself on trying to make better contact and not worrying about pulling the ball this spring. Young went 2 for 3 and hit his first home run of the spring off Scott Diamond in the bottom of the first inning as a Mets' split squad tied the Minnesota Twins 3-3 in nine innings on Saturday. ''It was a fastball in and I think it's probably the first ball I pulled this spring,'' said Young, who signed a one-year, $7.25 million dollar deal this offseason.

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Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen apologizes for slur directed at Daisuke Matsuzaka’s translator (Big League Stew)

New York Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen was apologetic on Wednesday following an inappropriate exchange with Daisuke Matsuzaka's translator Jeff Cutler on Sunday that reportedly included an ethnic slur. "I apologize for the thoughtless remarks that I made yesterday in the clubhouse," Warthen's statement read. "They were a poor attempt at humor, but were wrong and inappropriate in any setting. I am very sorry." According to Stu Woo of the Wallstreet Journal , Warthen personally apologized to Cutler in the Mets clubhouse on Monday after admittedly referring to the 30-year-old Japanese American as a ‘Chinaman’ during an exchange that took place on Sunday. “I’m sorry I called you a ‘Chinaman’ yesterday,” Warthen told Cutler. “It’s OK,” Cutler replied. “I didn’t mean to insinuate –- I know you’re not Chinese,” Warthen said. He paused. “I thought it was a pretty good joke, though.” “It was,” Cutler said, with a small laugh. Cutler went on about his business after accepting Warthen's apology, according to Woo. The comment itself and the apology that followed weren't acknowledged publicly by the team over the next 48 hours. In fact, the entire incident was likely to remain in-house had Woo, a Chinese American himself, not overheard the exchange and brought it to light on Wednesday. I didn’t say anything, but I was startled. As a 27-year-old Chinese American who grew up in San Francisco, I couldn’t remember the last time I heard the term “Chinaman,” a derogatory word originally given by white Americans to Chinese immigrants in the 19th century. I might have heard it used on the grade-school playground, but never before in dozens of NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball locker rooms I’ve been to as a sports reporter. Woo was understandably taken aback when he overheard the exchange and went to Mets vice president of media relations Jay Horwitz in an attempt to set up a meeting with Warthen to discuss his comment. That meeting was scheduled for Tuesday morning at 7:30 a.m., but never took place after Warthen decided to withhold commenting. It wasn't until Woo's column was published on Wednesday that the Mets formally addressed the situation. General manager Sandy Alderson released the following statement, but never acknowledged Warthen by name. “On behalf of the entire organization, I apologize for the insensitive remarks made by of one of our staff members. The remarks were offensive and inappropriate and the organization is very sorry.” Warthen's apology was also released Wednesday evening, though it's not certain when he actually made the comments based on his reference to yesterday. That would indicate he apologized for something that happened on Tuesday, but Woo's report points to the incident happening over the weekend. Either way, Mets officials, who were obviously very aware of the situation based on Woo's meeting with Horowitz, probably would have been wise to get out ahead of the story with their statements and apologizes. Of course, fully understating and accepting what happened was wrong, taking responsibility for said actions and then apologizing are the most important things. Warthen seemed to handle that on his own, but eliminating any potential for head-scratching and further questioning is important too. The Mets could have done a little better in that regard. - - - - - - - Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Townie813

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