LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- When Freddy Garcia starts the Braves' Grapefruit League opener against the Tigers on Wednesday, the setting will be much more comfortable than the one he inhabited while opposing Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers in Game 4 of last year's National League Division Series.
But while his club's season will not be on the line this time, the 37-year-old veteran pitcher realizes that every start he makes over the next month will influence how much longer his career might last.
After Monday's workout, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez announced his starting rotation through the first five days of the Grapefruit League season. Each of the assigned starters will attempt to complete two innings in their respective first outings.
Garcia will start Wednesday afternoon's opener against the Tigers at Disney. Kris Medlen will have a chance to oppose Detroit's potent lineup on Thursday afternoon in Lakeland. This will be the first of the tuneups Medlen makes in preparation for a potential start against the Brewers in the March 31 regular-season opener.
Gonzalez will announce his Opening Day starter at a later date. But Medlen appears to be the most logical candidate.
Brandon Beachy will make his first Spring Training start on Friday evening, when the Braves host the Astros. Julio Teheran will take the mound to begin Saturday afternoon's game against the Nationals in Viera.
Alex Wood and David Hale will start the opposite ends of Sunday afternoon's split-squad games. As Wood is facing the Tigers at Disney, Hale will be about 20 minutes down the road pitching against the Astros at Osceola County Stadium.
With Mike Minor behind schedule because of a urinary tract procedure he underwent on Dec. 31, Medlen, Beachy and Teheran stand as the only three pitchers -- barring injury -- who are essentially guaranteed to begin the regular season in Atlanta's starting rotation.
While Hale will have a shot to compete for a rotation spot, Wood is certainly the favorite to begin the season as Atlanta's fifth starter.
Garcia, who will also be in the mix for the fifth spot, signed a Minor League contract that allows him to opt out if he has not been guaranteed a Major League roster spot by March 25. The right-hander has said he will not mind if he begins the regular season in Atlanta's bullpen. But he has made it clear that he will not pitch at the Minor League level.
Offseason operation could delay Minor
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Mike Minor believes he will be ready to be a part of the Braves' starting rotation when the regular season begins. But the left-handed pitcher will first have to make up for the time he lost while recovering from a surgical procedure that removed scar tissue from his urethra.
After a Vanderbilt University surgeon performed the procedure on Dec. 31, Minor was forced to deal with two catheters and remain inactive throughout most of January. The inability to complete his normal preseason preparations during this stretch led to him feeling some shoulder discomfort when he reported to Spring Training.
Minor was shut down for a few days. But his shoulder has not been a problem since he was recently cleared to begin completing long tossing drills aimed toward rebuilding arm strength. The 26-year-old southpaw is hoping to soon be cleared to begin throwing off a mound. But it is too early to know exactly when Minor might be able to make his first Grapefruit League start.
"I don't want to put a date on it, but I think I will be good," Minor said. "Either way, I'm going to be fine. I just don't know when that day is going to be."
The Braves have not ruled out the possibility that Minor will be a part of their starting rotation at the beginning of the regular season. But it seems more likely that he will not pitch during the season's first two series and then possibly be ready to start as early as April 10, when Atlanta is scheduled to conclude a three-game series against the Mets.
Because of scheduled off-days, Minor could end up missing just one scheduled turn. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez is hoping the left-hander is back by at least April 12, when Atlanta plays the middle game of a three-game set against the Nationals.
"He could start the season and we think he will, because when you look at the schedule, we don't need a fifth starter until [April 10, 11 or 12]," Gonzalez said.
Minor visited multiple doctors over the past two years with the hope of learning why he has had trouble urinating. The problem got progressively worse and reached a point where he went to the emergency room in December.
"I went to the [emergency room] and was like, 'I can't [urinate],'" Minor said. "It was that bad."
Minor said the surgeon who performed the procedure told him the scarring was likely a result of something that occurred during his childhood. While he regularly performed tricks with a skateboard and rode dirt bikes, the Braves pitcher does not remember suffering an injury that would have led to this scarring.
• Tyler Pastornicky received a clean bill of health after Braves physicians evaluated his surgically-repaired left knee last weekend. But Pastornicky, who is bidding to serve as one of Atlanta's backup infielders, will likely be sidelined through at least the first 10 games of the Grapefruit League season.
The Braves are moderating Pastornicky's activity as he attempts to make a full recovery from the torn anterior cruciate ligament he suffered in August.
• Former reliever Gene Garber will come to Braves camp on Wednesday to serve as a special instructor. Steve Avery will arrive on Thursday to begin his stint in this same role.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.