This is just sad.
Braves left-hander Jonny Venters’ comeback from the second Tommy John elbow surgery of his career has been halted to due another torn ulnar collateral ligament. Which means the once-dominant setup man may be headed for a third Tommy John surgery.
Venters had a 2.22 ERA and 258 strikeouts in 230 innings for the Braves from 2010-2012 while averaging 94.5 miles per hour with his fastball, but hasn’t pitched since October 3, 2012 and is now looking at the possibility of a third consecutive lost season with his 30th birthday around the corner.
Jonny Venters is making his way back from undergoing Tommy John elbow surgery in May of last year, but the Braves setup man had to shut his throwing program down last week due to soreness.
Venters went to see Dr. James Andrews, who performed the surgery, and Carroll Rogers of the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that he received a platelet-rich plasma injection intended to aid the healing process.
That’s good news in that there’s no new structural damage, but Venters will be sidelined for at least a month before he can resume throwing again. Unfortunately he’s becoming an example of how not every pitcher who undergoes Tommy John surgery makes a smooth, 12 month-long recovery and it’s looking less and less likely that Venters will pitch for the Braves in 2014 after missing all of 2013.
Before going under the knife Venters posted a 2.23 ERA with 258 strikeouts in 230 innings setting up Craig Kimbrel in what was an incredible late-inning duo.
David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that Braves reliever Jonny Venters suffered a minor setback during his first live bullpen session on Wednesday. The lefty felt soreness in his elbow due to the increased activity and the Braves cut the session short as a result.
Venters, 29, hasn’t pitched since the end of the 2012 season and underwent Tommy John surgery on his left elbow on May 16 last year. The Braves were hoping to get him back at some point in June. In three seasons with the Braves leading up to the injury, Venters posted a 2.23 ERA with a 258/110 K/BB ratio in 229 2/3 innings.
Braves reliever Cory Gearrin likely needs Tommy John surgery after being diagnosed with a partial ligament tear in his right elbow, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports. Gearrin, though, will seek a second opinion before making a decision.
Gearrin injured his elbow in the last week of spring training. He didn’t have a particularly productive spring, finishing with a 6.35 ERA in 11 1/3 innings. Gearrin, who turns 28 on April 14, has posted decent numbers at Triple-A over the last three seasons and was slightly above average at the big league level in 31 innings compiled in the first half of last season with the Braves.
Gearrin wasn’t high up on the bullpen depth chart, but he is just the latest in a long line of Braves pitchers to succumb to the injury bug. He joins Brandon Beachy, Gavin Floyd, Kris Medlen, Mike Minor, and Jonny Venters on the shelf.
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The Braves’ winter full of arbitration cases was an indication of the problems lurking just beyond the horizon — their core of young, talented players is starting to get very expensive, and inching ever closer to free agency. The organization has been among the more thrifty in Major League Baseball lately, keeping a payroll below $100 million in each of the last five seasons. As Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal Constitution writes, it will be tough for the Braves to lock up their core players. Brian McCann received the Braves’ last contract extension: a six-year, $26.8 million extension signed in March 2007.
The Braves had 14 arbitration eligible players this off-season. They tendered contracts to 11 of them:
- SP Kris Medlen, $5.8 million (second year of arbitration eligibility)
- 3B Chris Johnson, $4.75 million (first year)
- SP Mike Minor, $3.85 million (first year)
- RP Jonny Venters, $1.625 million (second year)
- RP Jordan Walden, $1.49 million (first year)
- SP Brandon Beachy, $1.45 million (first year)
- OF Jordan Schafer, $1.09 million (first year)
- IF Ramiro Pena, $0.55 million (first year)
They will go to arbitration hearings with outfielder Jason Heyward (second year of arbitration eligibility), first baseman Freddie Freeman (first year), and closer Craig Kimbrel (first year). The midpoint between the salary figures submitted by the Braves and both Freeman and Heyward is around $5 million, while it’s around $7 million for Kimbrel.
The more Sabermetrically-inclined in the Braves blogosphere have suggested that the Braves should trade Kimbrel, so that would be one solution to one dilemma. Locking up Heyward, Freeman, Medlen, Minor, and Beachy will be trickier. The longer the Braves wait, the more expensive their core becomes and the more likely it becomes that they will watch their key players eventually walk away into free agency. The Braves are among the best in the business at recognizing and developing talent, but even they can’t count on consistently churning out Freemans, Minors, and Heywards to replace outgoing talent.