LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- When Spring Training began, Gus Schlosser was not considered one of the favorites in the competition for a spot in the bullpen. But with his first two Grapefruit League appearances, the 6-foot-4 right-hander has established himself as a legitimate candidate.
"We'll see how the spring develops, but so far he's been the talk of the coaching staff," manager Fredi Gonzalez said after Schlosser tossed two scoreless innings in Monday's loss to the Mets.
If Freddy Garcia does not begin the season in the rotation, Schlosser, 25, could gain one of what appears to be two available spots in the bullpen. He has surrendered one hit and one walk while not allowing a run in the three innings he has completed thus far.
"Whether you end up [in the Majors] or not really doesn't matter," Schlosser said. "Just being able to show them what you're capable of is pretty big. It's nice to know that if they need me, whenever that is, they're confident in what I can do."
With Ryan Buchter not making an impact this spring, the Braves are expected to search the trade market for a left-handed specialist. But at the same time, they will continue to evaluate all of their relief candidates, including Schlosser and Luis Vasquez, who could be cleared to begin pitching in games next week after spending the early portion of camp recovering from a strained lat.
Gene Garber's presence in camp this week has given Schlosser a chance to talk with a former reliever who used a sidearm delivery much like the one he has refined throughout his professional career.
While producing a 2.39 ERA in 25 starts with Double-A Mississippi last season, Schlosser limited right-handed hitters to a .199 batting average and .256 on-base percentage. Left-handed hitters proved more successful against him, batting .281 with a .361 on-base percentage.
Gosselin takes advantage of Nats' experiment
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- While enjoying an unexpected one-week stint in the Majors last season, infield prospect Philip Gosselin recorded his first two career hits against Washington. He might have notched a few more if the Nationals had been as accommodating as they were during the eighth inning of the Braves' 8-4 win on Tuesday afternoon at Champion Stadium.
With the bases loaded, one out and sinkerballer Luis Ayala on the mound attempting to keep the score tied, Nationals manager Matt Williams opted to bring in right fielder Steven Souza to serve as an extra infielder.
Gosselin took advantage of the configuration by sending an elevated 2-2 sinker to an abandoned right field for a bases-clearing, game-winning triple.
"I wish they would take a defender off all the time," Gosselin said with a smile. "I was a little surprised when they did it, but their catcher said it was something they've been working on."
Given a chance to experiment in a setting where wins and losses do not matter, Williams confirmed he just wanted to test the defensive configuration, which left the two remaining outfielders manning the gaps. When Souza reached the infield dirt, he quickly switched gloves with first baseman Brock Peterson, who shifted toward second base.
"I've seen [that shift] a lot in the ninth inning," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "I've never seen it in the eighth inning. But maybe Matt is working on that with his club. You don't know. You just worry about your team."
Gosselin is among the position players vying for one of the last available spots on Atlanta's roster. The 25-year-old infielder combined to hit .254 with a .617 OPS for Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett last season. His brief stint in Atlanta came after Tyler Pastornicky tore his left anterior cruciate ligament just two days after Dan Uggla was placed on the disabled list.
"I'm really just trying to improve and hopefully be able to contribute again this year at some point," Gosselin said. "It's great to just be able to play in front of the coaching staff and work with them every day. I'm not so much worried about making the team or anything like that, just trying to improve."
Hursh feeling at home in first big league camp
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Less than a year removed from his days on Oklahoma State's pitching staff, Jason Hursh has spent the early portion of his first Major League Spring Training making the Braves feel good about taking him in the first round of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft.
Hursh made another strong impression during Tuesday's 8-4 win over the Nationals at Champion Stadium, escaping a bases-loaded jam to end the game. The 22-year-old right-hander breathed a sigh of relief when Joey Terdoslavich caught Jamey Carroll's fly ball in right field, then threw to first base, where umpire Joe West generously ruled Steven Souza out to complete a game-ending double play.
"[Hursh] has got good life on his fastball," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "He doesn't seem to spook. We misplayed a ball in left field, and he got back on the mound and made some good pitches. I don't care if it's a Spring Training game or you're playing the 12-and-under team on the back fields, the last three outs are still hard to get, and he got them. You like to see mound presence and mound demeanor. He showed us a pretty good one right there."
Hursh has allowed one run and five hits over the five innings he has completed in Grapefruit League play. Former manager Bobby Cox was impressed with the sinking action the young right-hander produced with his fastball during a recent bullpen session.
"Once you settle in and everything, you just feel like you're on a different team, working your way up," Hursh said. "It's a great group of guys, and I definitely feel like I've settled in well here. It feels like home."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.