Things in the pitching department are suddenly not looking so good for the Atlanta Braves. Their ace Kris Medlen had to leave Sunday’s game against the New York Mets. He grabbed his elbow after throwing the first pitch to Matt Clark with two outs in the fourth inning. He was taken off the field by the trainers immediately. Braves’ manager Fredi Gonzalez told reporters,
“I talked to him 30 seconds after he came inside, after I made the pitching change. He wasn’t in good spirits then. He was really, really worried. But after he got settled down and the trainers looked at him and Mets doctors looked at him, I think he was in better spirits.”
Since then the Braves’ and their fans have been waiting with baited breath for Medlen to first undergo an MRI and then to get the results. Tuesday morning Medlen received the results of Monday’s MRI which showed damage to a ligament in the pitcher’s throwing elbow. The results are considered inconclusive because Medlen, 28, already had Tommy John Surgery in 2010 causing him to miss most of the 2011 season. For athletes that have already had the surgery in the past, it is often hard to tell if there is actual new damage in the arm or not.
Medlen is now seeking is now seeking a second medical opinion with Dr. James Andrews, the surgeon who performed his first Tommy John Surgery. He is expected to meet with Dr, Andrews this week.
Medlen is slated to be the Braves’ Opening Day starter but that is looking more unlikely by the day. The next two pitchers in line to start on Opening Day are unfortunately, for the Braves, not healthy either. The first pick would be Medlen’s fellow right-hander Brandon Beachy, who exited Monday’s game early with tightness in his elbow and then southpaw Mike Minor who has urinary tract surgery in December and has been struggling with a sore shoulder.
The two bright spots that the Braves have left are one, that Medlen’s injury might not be as bad as it seems at first glance. Gonzalez, told the Associated Press Monday that he and the team are going to,
“Keep our fingers crossed.”
The Braves’ skipper also said,
“I feel a lot better after talking to our medical people. We might be OK.”
In the event the Braves top three starters are not ok, the second bright spot they have is RHP Julio Teheran, who has not given up a run so far in spring training and pitched four shut-out innings against the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday. Atlanta also has left-hander Alex Wood, who started six games for the Braves last season, going 3-3 with a 3.13 ERA. There is also righty David Hale, a rookie, who was impressive as a call-up last fall but has struggled a bit so far this spring. The Braves have decent back up for their starting three, especially the way Teheran has been pitching. It could be that he just might be the go-to guy on Opening Day. That will all be determined, however, once the seriousness of Medlen’s injury is finally determined.