With the start of the baseball season just days away, the Atlanta Braves took another step-back when they learned relief pitcher Cory Gearrin may have a serious elbow injury that could require season ending surgery. Gearrin would certainly be a significant loss to a Braves team that has already lost starting pitchers Brandon Beachy and Kris Medlen to season ending Tommy John surgery.
Gearrin, who turns 28 later this month, left Tuesday’s spring training game against the Tigers with what the team was describing as an elbow strain. Braves general manager Frank Wren later found out that the sprain was much more serious.
“I think he has a significant injury, Wren said. We’ve kind of eaten through our depth. It looked like we were in pretty good shape coming into spring training with some guys about to get healthy and all of a sudden the next thing you know we’re pretty thin.”
The loss of Gearinn would be even more significant to the season because the team is still without starters Gavin Floyd and Mike Minor, who are both recovering from injuries and are expected to join the team in the coming weeks. The right-hander had a 3.77 ERA with a 1.48 WHIP and 23 strikeouts in 31 innings last season for the Braves. The side arm pitcher also stranded 28 of the 35 runners’ on-base and has allowed three homers in 298 career big-league batters faced.
Until the team works out some of their injury issues, they have recalled left handed pitcher Ryan Butcher to fill a significant gap in their bullpen. One solution for the Braves might be looking to make an early season trade if they hope to salvage the season before it begins.
“We have been watching very closely other moves to see if there was someone who could upgrade us or someone who could help us and we haven’t seen anyone we felt were better than the pitchers we have,” Wren said.
Offensive production is going to be important if the team hopes to contend with the Nationals and Mets in a very competitive, yet still very open, National League East. In 2013, the Braves finished 13th in runs scored and 21st in total hits. Veterans, such as Dan Uggla and B.J Upton, are going to need to produce more at the plate for the Braves to have a shot at repeating as NL East Champions.