Cory Gearrin left today’s game against the Tigers in the bottom of the fifth with what Braves told ESPN is a right elbow strain. Gearrin started the fith and gave up a single to former Brave Alex Gonzalez then coaxed a 1-6-3 double play out of the next hitter. With two down and Torii Hunter at the plate Gearrin missed wide left with the first pitch and even wider left with the next then signaled the dugout that ther ewas something wrong. The trainer spoke with Gearrin for about 30 seconds and the pair headed to the clubhouse. Gearrin’s injury adds more uncertainty to the Braves bullpen situation, something that will be critical with a season opening rotation so thin that veteran Aaron Harang who was signed yesterday is already schedule to start the third game without ever throwing a pitch in a Braves uniform.
Earlier today Fredi Gonzalez announced that the first three games would be started by Julio Teheran, Alex wood and Harang. He told the AJC that the fourth spot was between David Hale and Gus Schlosser. Hale had a rough outing yesterday and appears to still be the favorite as Schlosser hasn’t thrown a pitch above AA yet and has only 135 1/3 minor AA innings. In a similar situation last year Wood stepped up and was so successful he’s now considered a fixture in the rotation.
Gearrin’s future was in doubt and some said he wouldn’t make the roster this year but the rash of injuries and the fact that he was out of options seemed to ease that fear. If today’s injury is as serious as it appeared to me, the bullpen is now down to Craig Kimbrel, Luis Avilan, Anthony Varvaro, Jordan Walden – now recovering from a hamstring injury he says isn’t serious -, David Carpenter, the loser of the Hale Schlosser starting spot battle with two spots open to begin the year. Lefty Ian Thomas has impressed this spring and was a favorite to sneak in before today’s injury and is almost certainly in. Whether they will add Luis Vasquez who worked out yesterday for Gonzalez and crew, reach down for a pitcher already on the roster or grab a recently release veteran is the question. A quick check shows names like Kyle Farnsworth, Mike Gonzalez, Erik Bedard and Scott Baker are available.