KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) - Even after signing a few high-profile free agents in the offseason, the Miami Marlins are still looking to figure out their starting rotation.
Ricky Nolasco fits into what is expected to be a formidable group, but he struggled with his control in a 5-5, 10-inning tie with the Atlanta Braves on Thursday.
Before the game, star third baseman Chipper Jones said he will retire at the end of the season. He sat out the game.
Nolasco, who went 10-12 with a 4.67 ERA in 33 starts for the Marlins last season, returns with the most wins of last season's Marlins staff.
He went 4 1/3 innings against the Braves and walked only two while giving up three runs, but he fell behind hitters throughout as his ERA climbed to 4.97.
``I wanted to go five innings,' Nolasco said. ``I am just having trouble getting ahead of hitters. My adrenaline is flowing and it is affecting my fastball.'
Nolasco is expected to be part of a rotation that includes Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson and Carlos Zambrano, but he says it's simply a matter of settling down. Nolasco has two more starts in the spring and said he knows he needs to make adjustments before the season starts.
``I am still getting it together,' Nolasco said. ``There's some pressure, but I can only get better. I'm not worried yet.'
Manager Ozzie Guillen said Nolasco just needs to calm down and have fun.
``I am glad with the way he's pitching,' Guillen said. ``He is throwing it pretty good. Sometimes he was pretty nasty.'
For now, Guillen just wants to get all of his regulars out of the Grapefruit League healthy.
``Nolasco is healthy and that is huge,' Guillen said. ``You can replace an infielder or an outfielder, but you can't replace a pitcher. We just need him to stay healthy.'
Braves rookie shortstop Tyler Pastornicky, who has struggled all spring, broke out of his slump by going 4 for 5 with an RBI to lift his spring average to .224.
Pastornicky also said he just needs to keep the pressure off and have fun.
``I've been working hard,' Pastornicky said. ``I've been hitting the ball, just at people. I am putting in lots of hard work, but I have been putting added pressure on myself. I just have to go out and have fun and play.'
Brandon Beachy, part of a depleted Braves starting rotation until veteran Tim Hudson returns from the disabled list in May, allowed four runs in five innings. He walked one but was behind in the count most of the way.
``He did OK,' Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. ``He got behind and couldn't get his breaking ball over the plate. I'm not worried.'
Beachy was 7-3 in 25 starts for the Braves last season.
Terry Tiffee homered off Beachy for the Marlins, and Freddie Freeman hit his first homer of the spring for the Braves.
Jose Reyes and John Buck each had two hits for Florida.
Miami went ahead 5-4 in the top of the ninth when Nick Green doubled in a run, but the Braves tied it in the bottom of the ninth as Jordan Parraz, who doubled to open the inning, moved to third and scored on a passed ball.
Notes: RHP Adam Russell, C Christian Bethancourt, IF Joey Terdoslavich, and IF Ernesto Mejia were assigned to minor league camp. ... RHP Arodys Vizcaino will require Tommy John surgery. He will miss the entire 2012 season and possibly some of the 2013 season. He is one of the most highly regarded prospects in baseball and was expected to be a key part of the Braves bullpen this season. ... LHP Mike Minor hasn't allowed an earned run in 14 innings. ... Minor will start on Friday against the New York Mets. He'll be followed by RHP Craig Kimbrel, LHP Eric O'Flaherty, and LHP Yohan Flande.
The Associated Press News Service
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