SAN DIEGO — Kris Medlen is the only one of the Braves’ current starting pitchers who has bullpen experience, but the right-hander hopes that doesn’t cause team officials to consider moving him back to the bullpen when starter Brandon Beachy comes off the disabled list this month.
“I’ll let it be known that I don’t want to go down there (to the bullpen),” Medlen said. “I don’t. At all. But it’s out of my hands. I mean, if it happens, obviously it happens. I’m a team player.”
Beachy has one more scheduled minor-league rehab start before as he completes his recovery from “Tommy John” elbow surgery. Medlen, another former TJ surgery patient, agreed Beachy should return to the rotation when he’s ready.
Beachy has no relief experience and had a 2.00 ERA and 68 strikeouts in 13 starts last season before tearing his ulnar collateral ligament.
While some outside the organization have speculated or suggested the Braves could bring Beachy back initially as a reliever, as they did with Medlen after his surgery, the team has not given any indication of that being an option they are considering.
“Does not make any sense for him to go to the pen,” Medlen said. “It’s the same mound and whatever else, but it’s a different job, different mindset. … Build him up (as a starter during his rehab assignment) just to put him in the pen?”
Beachy hasn’t had any setbacks since he began his rehab, but trading a starter would be risky for the Braves until they are confident that Beachy is back to form and able to go deep into games without any issues arising.
“We expect Beach to come back and be as good as he was, but there’s a processs with it,” Medlen said. “They’re not minor league rehab games. Big league games, big league players, different balls and whatever else. Just different scenarios. Obviously, like I said, I hope he comes back just as strong as ever. But it’s not a guarantee.”