Braves reliever Jonny Venters will face live batters next fridayMandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Jordan Walden On DL Braves Bullpen Shuffle Continues

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The Braves put relief pitcher Jordan Walden on the DL saturday with a hamstring strain. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Braves bullpen was reconfigured again Saturday as when they had to put Jordan Walden on the DL with a hamstring injury. Ian Thomas was recalled to take his his spot in the pen.

Walden had been very good this season allowing runs in only 2 of his 14 outings including his last appearance against the Giants on the 4th when he gave up his first home run of the year to Brandon Crawford.

Ian Thomas was on the bus after Gwinnett’s game at Lehigh Valley Friday night when Brian Snitker told him to get back to the clubhouse, pack and head to Atlanta. According to Carroll Rogers of the AJC, Thmoas was eager to get back to Atlanta and show off his new slider.

“I jumped right off that bus and got my stuff packed, champing at the bit to get on that plane and get back here,” said Thomas, who spent three years in the independent leagues before signing with the Braves in 2012. “Glad to be back, real excited, try to get a win tonight.”

When he was sent to Gwinnett he asked in he could start so he could work on his slider. Thomas used the slider in high school but “messed my elbow up a little bit.”  he believes he partially tore his UCL but didn’t have surgery. Instead he shelved the slider until Roger McDowell ask him to add a hard breaking ball to his arsenal and suggested a new grip. The grip obviously worked. In his one start at Gwinnett he went three perfect innings throwing 50 pitches (12 sliders) and striking out five. Thomas return give the Braves bullpen three lefties and if that slider continues to be good they may have a hard time sending him back to Gwinnett.

Jonny Venters Sighting

In a separate post, Skipper Fredi Gonzalez told Rogers that Jonny Venters will face batters for the first time next Friday when he throws live batting practice. When he takes the mound it will be a year and a day since TJ surgery number two. This makes him unlikely to return until mid-June at the earliest but Gonzalez refused to put a timetable on his rehab game plans.

“I don’t even know that far ahead when he’ll start his rehab assignment,” Gonzalez said. “But that’s a big step when we feel comfortable enough to start throwing batting practice.”

Venters will join Walden in Orlando while the team is on the road to continue bullpen sessions in preparation for that live BP session.

That’s A Wrap

I’m surprised Walden isn’t injured more often. His mechanics put tons of stress on his adductors and his groins muscles in addition to his lower back. Since this is JV’s second TJ,  I don’t expect Venters back until July and perhaps after the All Star break. The  Braves will want to take extra care of that arm and if Thomas, Alex Wood and Luis Avilan are doing well there’s absolutely no need to rush him. Second TJ surgeries have a low success rate but relievers tend to get closer to their pre-surgery performance levels than starters so that’s in his favor. The way he throws his sinker however puts excessive stress on the UCL so I wonder if Roger McDowell will address Venters mechanics in order to help him stay healthy and remain successful for at least another eight years. We’ll learn more as his rehab continues and keep you up to date with our look at all Braves roster moves.

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