When Jordan Walden was acquired by the Atlanta Braves via trade with the Angels, Braves nation believed they found a solid right handed set-up relief pitcher to complement left handers Jonny Venters and Eric O’Flaherty. The 6’5″ 235 pound hard throwing righty recorded 32 saves in 2011 but when struggles came early in 2012, he was demoted out of the Closer role. And now at the beginning of the 2013 spring training season, the Braves haven’t seen the benefits from the offseason trade.
Walden appeared in the second spring training game this season against the New York Yankees. He gave up 4 runs on 3 hits while giving up a home run to Zoilo Almonte…all in only an inning of work. Since then, we haven’t seen Walden on the mound again.
We learned a few days ago he is experience a “little back pain”. Today, reported by David O’Brien, Walden will take the trip back up to Atlanta so he can have his sore back checked out. The Braves General Manager Frank Wren said on Tuesday he didn’t think the relief pitcher would be out for long.
Though he has no previous history of back pain, he has a very unusual pitching motion (see video below) and may have caused the back troubles. This is definitely something to monitor as the spring training unfolds since O’Flaherty (groin) hasn’t pitched yet this season either. Before heading down to Florida the Braves bullpen looked to be a strength. With these two key components out with nagging injuries, Fredi Gonzalez will have to give a few extra looks at other relief pitchers and be in hopes that Walden and O’Flaherty can return soon.