After throwing a pain-free full bullpen session on Tuesday, it appears reliever Jonny Venters will be rejoining the Braves 'pen early next week.
Venters went on the DL on July 5 with elbow inflammation and is eligible to return on Friday, but manager Fredi Gonzalez said Venters will throw an inning or two for Triple-A Gwinnett before rejoining the Braves, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Venters is confident about returning. From the AJC:
"I think it was a good chance to get a mental break," said Venters, who was asked if he were confident about a return to form. "Yeah, actually very confident. Kind of a clean slate. I kind of started from scratch with my delivery, too. I eliminated everything that I was doing, that I was working on, and just got back to the basics."
After dominant seasons in 2010 and 2011, Venters has struggled this year, posting a 4.45 ERA in 40 appearances. After going on the DL, Venters said that the elbow pain had been "off and on" throughout the season. The hope now is that it's behind him after this break.
Jonny Venters picked up a baseball for the first time on Wednesday since going on the disabled list on July 5. He threw another session on Thursday at a team workout as the Braves prepare to start the second half of the season. Venters reported no problems with his elbow and hopefully the rest will help get him off to a strong start in the second half.
"My arm felt great," Venters said. "[The ball] felt like it was coming out good. I was excited."
Venters was placed on the DL with what was termed an "impingement" in his elbow. No doubt his workload over the last two seasons hasn't helped his struggles but perhaps some much needed rest and clear head will get him back on track in the second half.
"Yesterday was the first time" he mentioned it, Gonzalez said. "Those bullpen guys, it's a tough job.... But this is the first time that he's had a complaint. And with everything going on, go ahead and shut him down, let him regroup and let him catch up. Like I said, I think when the 15 days are up that he'll be ready to go."
The injury is not deemed serious and no MRI exam is scheduled. Perhaps it is a good time for Venters to take a break and clear his head before returning in the second half of the season.
Venters has appeared in 40 games this season and has a 4.45 ERA. To take his place on the roster Atlanta called up Luis Avilan from Triple-A Gwinnett.
The move may have been prompted by Venters' disastrous outing in Atlanta's 5-1 loss to the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday, where Venters allowed a run on a wild pitch and gave up a home run in two consecutive pitches.
On the season, Venters is 3-3 with 4.45 ERA in 32 innings, a far cry from the pitcher who dominated the NL in his first two seasons in MLB. In 2010 and 2011, the 6'3 lefthander had a 1.89 ERA in 164 appearances.
Many speculated that the relief patterns of Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez contributed to Venters struggles at the end of last season, which have been repeated in 2012. However, pitching injuries are still an inexact science, and there's no way to exactly pinpoint why a pitcher heads to the disabled list.
To replace Venters on the roster Atlanta has called up left handed reliever Luis Avilan who spent one day at Triple-A Gwinnett after being promoted from Mississippi.