VIERA, Fla. – The Braves reassigned pitchers Wirfin Obispo and prospect Sean Gilmartin to minor league camp Sunday, but it won’t be surprising if either is back with the big-league team at some point during the season.
Obispo, a hard-throwing reliever, was just about perfect in five appearances, allowing one hit and no walks with six strikeouts in four innings.
“I think if we get an opportunity to bring back Obispo, if we need innings, I’m going to bring him back,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “He was interesting. Very interesting. He put up good numbers and (his delivery) was funky; he’s got good stuff.”
Obispo, 28, is a well-traveled former Cincinnati Reds prospect. The right-hander spent several seasons in Japan before returning to the Reds organization last season and posting a 3.00 ERA with 91 strikeouts and 43 walks in 96 innings in Double-A and Triple-A, while allowing just 61 hits.
He pitched a perfect inning against the Blue Jays in Saturday’s split-squad game in Dunedin, Fla.
“I didn’t see him (Saturday),” said Gonzalez, who was with the other split squad Saturday. “But he pitched at our place two nights ago and pitched well. So yeah, we’ll maybe bring him back.”
Obispo was a candidate for the final bullpen spot. But two other candidates, incumbent long reliever Cristhian Martinez and Anthony Varvaro, are out of minor league options and would have to be put through waivers before they could be sent to the minor leagues. There’s a good chance either would be claimed off waivers by another team.
There also remains a possibility of another bullpen spot being open if the Braves decide to put Jordan Walden on the 15-day disabled list to begin the season. After missing 3-1/2 weeks of Grapefruit League games with a bulging disc in his back, Walden returned to Wednesday and Saturday after getting an epidural injection.
General manager Frank Wren said Saturday he thought Walden would be ready for the season.
Gilmartin, 22, had a 7.62 ERA and .386 opponents’ average in four games (two starts) this spring. The left-hander had nine strikeouts and three walks in 13 innings, and gave up 22 hits including five home runs.
Still, he’s made a good impression in consecutive major-league spring trainings since the Braves selected him in the first round (31st overall) of the 2011 draft out of Florida State. He was 6-10 with a 3.84 ERA in 27 starts at Double-A and Triple-A in his first full season, with 111 strikeouts and 39 walks in 157 innings.
Gonzalez was asked about Gilmartin needing more work in the minor leagues.
“I don’t know how much work he needs,” he said. “I like him. He gives us a little depth there in Triple-A in case something happens up here, you feel comfortable with that. Love everything about him — his professionalism, his work ethic, the way he goes about his business is off the chart.”