Almost six weeks after Jonny Venters was forced to visit the dreaded Dr. James Andrews for the first time with a sore elbow, the Braves set-up specialist is back to square one, with a second visit scheduled for this week.
The Braves and Venters held out hope that after the April 2nd Platelet Rich Plasma injection administered by Dr. Andrews, Venters’ arm would return to working order without too much time missed. But just three weeks into his scheduled throwing program—during his first full mound session—Venters has experienced discomfort and soreness.
When the Braves opened Spring Camp in Florida in early March, Venters was again expected to be a cornerstone in a powerful Braves bullpen. Venters followed the spring program like any of the other relievers, but was hindered by pain and an uncharacteristic struggle for the strike zone for most of the spring. The final straw came in the last week of the Grapefruit season when Venters pulled himself from the March 26th game with elbow discomfort.
For Venters, this is the second run through the injury gauntlet, as the 28 year-old has already undergone one Tommy John surgery, in 2005. Dr. Andrews, who performed Venters’ elbow reconstruction surgery in 2005, is regarded as the innovator of the surgery and has turned the once career-threatening surgery into a household name as familiar as the flu. Rarely, though, does a pitcher have to undergo the surgery twice.
With his second appointment scheduled for Thursday in Dr. Andrews’ Florida office, the Braves will have to wait until at least the weekend to receive word on the Venters setback. While the April MRI showed no apparent tear in the Ulnar Collateral Ligament of Venters, Dr. Andrews did explain to Braves officials and reporters that there are often some cloudy spots around the elbow of previous Tommy John victims, and has not ruled out a second surgery for the Braves lefty.
Venters has yet to pitch in the 2013 regular season and even with the best case scenario following Thursday in Florida, it is unlikely that Venters will return to the Braves bullpen anytime before the All Star break.