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ATLANTA — The San Diego Padres know they won’t be getting many innings from
their first pitcher on Sunday. The Atlanta Braves hope that isn’t the case with
their starter as well.

Atlanta right-hander Julio Teheran will make his first start since being
activated from the disabled list Saturday to face San Diego Chris
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, which will use a bullpen game in the finale of the
four-game series at SunTrust Park.

The Braves (41-29) increased their lead in the National League East to 2 1/2
games with a 1-0 victory on Saturday that guaranteed the Padres (34-39) wouldn’t
win a sixth consecutive series.

Teheran (4-4, 4.31 ERA) came out after one batter in the fifth inning of a
loss at San Diego on June 4 because of a right thumb contusion and hopes the
rest during his DL stint will help him regain some of his lost velocity.

The 27-year-old former all-star gave up three homers while losing his third
straight start. His average fastball velocity this season is 89.2 mph compared
with 91.4 mph last year.

Even before jamming a finger while batting, Teheran’s fastballs were mostly
in the 85-87 mph range against the Padres, and three long balls raised his
season total to 14.

“My arm has been sore,” Teheran admitted for the first time last Sunday while
the Braves were in Los Angeles playing the Dodgers. “Obviously as a pitcher you
have games where you don’t feel 100 percent. This year for me it’s been kind of
up and down.”

Teheran is 1-3 with a 6.11 ERA and eight home runs allowed in 28 innings
during his past five starts.

“Whenever you’re fighting through soreness, one day you feel good and the
next day you don’t. You still go out there and compete Chris
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,” he said. “I don’t think it’s a big deal. But
working on it, we’ll see if this (next) couple of months we’ll get my velo

Right-handed reliever Matt Strahm (1-2, 2.55) will get his fourth spot start
for the Padres as manager Andy Green turns to his bullpen to fill in the
rotation spot left open by the hip injury to rookie left-hander Joey

Strahm has a 1.23 ERA in 7 1/3 innings as a starter after throwing three
perfect innings in the Padres’ victory over the Cardinals in St. Louis on

Submarine right-hander Adam Cimber followed Strahm with one-hit ball for
three scoreless innings and the Padres won their second straight bullpen game
after a victory over the Braves on June 6 in San Diego.

“It’s got to be tough as a hitter,” Green said. “First, you have a lefty
slinger throwing 95-96 (mph). Next at-bat, you’ve got a drop-down righty coming
from underneath. It’s just two radically different looks Womens
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, and it plays well off each other and keeps
guys uncomfortable. By the time you’re up a third time, you’re facing a back-end

Strahm pitched a perfect inning in relief against the Braves two days before
his start in San Diego, when he allowed a first-inning homer by Freddie Freeman
but only one other hit in 2 1/3 innings of the 3-1 win by the Padres.

Teheran’s 11-4 loss in San Diego gave him a 4-3 record and 4.13 ERA in nine
career starts against the Padres.

Le'Veon Bell keeps saying he wants to stay
with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers keep saying they want to keep one of
the NFL's best running backs in the fold for years to come.

They have until July 16 to make it happen.

The Steelers placed the exclusive rights franchise tag on the two-time
All-Pro for a second straight spring on Tuesday, putting Bell's long-term status
with the club up in the air.

Bell, a two-time All Pro, accounted for 1 ,946
total yards and 11 touchdowns for the AFC North champions in 2017. Both Bell and
Steelers management said after the season they hoped to get a contract extension
done quickly, but failed to do so by Tuesday's deadline for teams to use the
franchise tag.

Bell is scheduled to make $14.54 million in 2018 if he signs the franchise
tender and the two sides are unable to reach an agreement on a new deal. He
skipped offseason workouts and training camp last summer before signing the
tender on the eve of the regular season. The absence led to a sluggish start,
though he was an indispensable part of Pittsburgh's offense once again, breaking
his own club record by catching 85 passes.

The 25-year-old made the 2017 All-Pro team at the "flex" position, one he
considered a tribute to his versatility. Bell said repeatedly over the past year
he believes he's different than other backs in the league and wants to be paid
accordingly. He is arguably the best receiving back in the NFL and he's averaged
nearly 25 touches a game in five seasons, though he's only been healthy at the
end of the year twice. Bell has twice been suspended by the NFL for violations
of the substance abuse policy.

Bell turned down a long-term deal with the Steelers last summer and told ESPN
in January he would consider retiring if the Steelers used the franchise tag on
him again. He backtracked a bit during the Pro Bowl when he said he believed a
new contract was in the works. It was a sentiment echoed by both Steelers
president Art Rooney II and general manager Kevin Colbert early in the

Pittsburgh's depth behind Bell is thin. James Conner carried the ball 32
times during his rookie season and the club signed Stevan Ridley at the end of
the regular season as insurance. Bell tweeted Monday that regardless of the
circumstances he wants to remain with the Steelers.

"Pittsburgh: the city that took in a 21-year old kid from small-town
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, the city I battled thru adversity in, the city that I
became a man in," Bell tweeted. "I love everything about being a Pittsburgh
Steeler, and I want nothing more than to finish the rest of my career in

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