LAKELAND, Fla. – Flamethrowing Braves reliever Mauricio Cabrera had soreness in his pitching elbow after his most recent appearance, and the Braves don’t know if he’ll be ready when the season begins or whether he might require a stint on the disabled list.
Cabrera struggled mightily in two of his past three outings and was charged with one hit, two runs and two walks in two-thirds of an inning in his most-recent outing, Monday against the Marlins. Immediately after that game, Braves manager Brian Snitker said Cabrera would need to work with pitching coach Chuck Hernandez on his pitching mechanics because something clearly was not right.
But later after that outing, Cabrera reported some discomfort in his right elbow. Snitker revealed that information when asked Friday if Cabrera was healthy.
“I don’t know if he is healthy,” Snitker said before Friday’s road game against the Tigers. “He felt a little something in his elbow the other day, so we’re being cautious with him right now. But like I say, he’s making the adjustments, he’s working on things, felt a little something, so we just kind of backed him off a little bit, just to make sure. So he’s kind of day-to-day right now.”
Cabrera, 23, had the second-highest average fastball velocity in the major leagues last season as a rookie, routinely hitting 100-102 mph on the radar gun while posting a 2.82 ERA and six saves in 41 appearances and totaling 32 strikeouts with 19 walks and no homers allowed in 38 1/3 innings. He had a .225 opponents’ average and puny .587 opponents’ OPS.
Cabrera allowed four hits and three walks in five scoreless innings over his first five Grapefruit League appearances through March 11, then struggled to find the strike zone in a March 14 game against the Phillies when he allowed one hit, two runs and two walks in one inning.
After a hitless, scoreless inning with one walk in his next outing March 17 against the Astros, he was all over the place again with his fastball Monday against the Marlins. In eight spring appearances he has a 4.70 ERA with six hits, four runs, eight walks and five strikeouts in 7 2/3 innings.
Cabrera was expected to be an important piece of a bullpen the Braves believe will be a team strength in 2017.
“After his outing (Monday), he just felt a little something, so we’re evaluating,” Snitker said. “Just give him a couple of days before we get him back out there and back on the mound. I saw him this morning (Friday) and he said he felt great, said everything’s feeling a lot better. So, once he gets to that point (of being pain-free) we’ll get him back out there throwing.”
Asked if it were too early to speculate on whether Cabrera would be ready for the season, Snitker said, “We’re not there yet. I’m hoping we get him back out there. Like I said, he felt good today. We’ve just got to get him back out there launching the ball again, and see where we’re at.”