NEW YORK — Gavin Floyd has made four minor league rehab starts and is penciled in for at least two more before the Braves consider bringing the veteran right-hander off the DL. Floyd is in the 11th month of what is typically a 12-month or longer rehab from Tommy John elbow surgery.
His rehab was was well ahead of schedule all spring, and there still have been no physical setbacks. However, Floyd has a 5.27 ERA in 13 2/3 innings of his four rehab starts and has yet to make it through as many as five innings before reaching prescribed pitch limits.
The Braves have given no hint of how they might fit Floyd into the rotation. And with the team’s starters pitching as well as they have so far, and Mike Minor set to join the rotation next week presumably in place of rookie fifth starter David Hale, there is no obvious scenario in which Floyd fits the rotation.
For now, the Braves are offering only the customary response that Gonzalez and team officials have had when similar potential logjams loomed in the past: “These types of situations usually take care of themselves.” Indeed, be it through injury or performance, such situations have a tendency to resolve themselves in baseball.
Floyd, 31, signed a one-year, $4 million free-agent contract in December that also included up to $4.5 million in additional performance incentives and roster bonuses.
When he signed, the right-hander looked like a lock for a rotation spot in an otherwise young rotation once he was ready, since the Braves had lost veteran Tim Hudson to free agency.
And when the Braves lost incumbent starters Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy to season-ending elbow injuries midway through spring training, the Braves began talking about having Floyd back as soon as late April, since his rehab was progressing ahead of schedule and they had an obvioius need.
But now, with late-spring pickup Aaron Harang surpassing all expectations — National League-leading 0.70 ERA — and mid-spring signee Ervin Santana meeting or exceeding what were substantial expectations for the former All-Star, the urgency to get Floyd into the rotation is no longer there.
“Yeah, how ‘bout that?” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said, when asked this weekend about the luxury of not needing to rush the return of Floyd or Mike Minor from the DL. “I would have never thought that coming out of spring training, with what happened to us with Beachy and Medlen.”