LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Julio Teheran has positioned himself as the favorite to begin the season as Atlanta's fifth starter. But Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez wants Teheran to know that he is competing for that final rotation spot with Sean Gilmartin.
"Especially with young kids, I'm not big on anointing them by saying, 'You're the guy and here it is,'" Gonzalez said. "With a young kid, I think you still need to show them there is a carrot out there and you've still got to compete. The other guys read newspapers, too. Gilmartin, give him a good chance to compete."
Teheran's status as one of the game's top prospects was tarnished last year when he posted a 5.08 ERA in 26 starts with Triple-A Gwinnett. Once he made some adjustments to his delivery in August, the 22-year-old right-hander showed some improvement. Teheran truly made strides while compiling a 3.23 ERA in seven starts during the Dominican Winter League.
"[My mechanics] were not feeling natural, but I was trying to do the whole year how they wanted me to do it," Teheran said. "But it doesn't work with me. So I started to use what I did the year before."
Teheran allowed one hit and recorded eight strikeouts over six scoreless innings while pitching in front of Gonzalez and general manager Frank Wren in December. He allowed just two hits while completing 16 2/3 scoreless innings over his final three starts in the Dominican.
"He looked different in winter ball," Gonzalez said. "He looked like a guy who has pitched. Sometimes failure is a good teacher."
Gilmartin, who was selected in the first round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, would be the most likely candidate to fill the fifth spot if Teheran struggles during the exhibition season. J.R. Graham, another promising prospect, likely needs a little more experience before becoming a legit candidate for Atlanta's rotation. Graham has made just nine starts at the Class A level.
McCann likely to miss first two weeks of regular season
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- As Brian McCann progressed through the first couple weeks of January, he held out hope that he could be ready by Opening Day. But now that Spring Training has arrived, the Braves catcher seems to have accepted the fact that he could miss at least the first two weeks of the regular season.
"It's not going to do me any good to come back if I'm not 100 percent," said McCann, who underwent right shoulder surgery on Oct. 16.
Braves orthopedic surgeon Dr. Xavier Duralde inserted anchors into the posterior portion of McCann's shoulder and repaired a labrum tear that was more significant than expected. The prognosis was that the six-time All-Star might not be ready to return for six months.
With that timeline in mind, McCann is hoping to be ready when the Braves open a two-game series against the Royals on April 16.
"Hopefully, I can make that day," McCann said. "Whatever they tell me to do, I'm going to do it and I'm going to be in here doing it. Whenever I can whip a baseball as hard as I can and then wake up the next day without any pain, that is probably when I'll be able to play."
McCann's rehab activities remain limited at this stage of the recovery process. He completed three sets of 25 throws from a distance of 60 feet on Sunday. McCann's work from an offensive perspective has been limited to hitting balls off of a tee.
McCann will learn more about his schedule after he and his teammates undergo their annual preseason physicals this weekend.
• Three pitchers -- Yohan Flande, Juan Jamie and Wirfin Obispo -- have not been able to leave the Dominican Republic due to visa issues. The Braves are not sure when any of them might be able to travel to the United States.
• Much has been made of the fact that Chris Johnson played for Chipper Jones' godfather, Pete Dunn, at Stetson University. Johnson is also the son of Ron Johnson, who made his Major League debut for the 1982 Royals, whose general manager was current Braves president John Schuerholz.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.