PHOENIX – Brandon Beachy’s rehabilitation from elbow surgery has gone without a hitch so far, and reports from the Braves pitcher’s first game in nearly 11 months were encouraging.
The right-hander threw 29 pitches in an extended spring training game Tuesday in Florida, and Braves officials said his fastball was clocked at 92-93 mph. That’s about where his average fastball was before “Tommy John” surgery in June, perhaps even a tick above.
Beachy ranked among major league leaders with a 2.00 ERA in 13 starts before his season-ending injury, his stingy 0.963 WHIP (walks-plus-hits per inning pitched) included just 49 hits allowed in 81 innings. He had 68 strikeouts and 29 walks.
His next step is a Sunday start for Triple-A Gwinnett. He’s scheduled to make six minor league starts, giving him a total of seven games with steadily increasing workloads – the same schedule that Braves pitchers follow at spring training.
Recovery from Tommy John surgery is typically 12-13 months for pitchers, and Beachy could be activated right around the one-year anniversary of his June 21 surgery. The Braves haven’t said what they plan to do to create a rotation spot for him, and probably won’t divulge anything on that subject until just before he’s activated.
Their reasoning for keeping that information close to the vest is simple: Often such situations take care of themselves when someone gets hurt or struggles as a decision gets closer at hand.
Manager Fredi Gonzalez said he thought Beachy would have one start at Class-A Rome when Gwinnett is on the road, but that the rest of his starts would probably be for the Triple-A team, which plays its home games only about 45 minutes north of Turner Field.
The FanGraphs website lists Beachy’s average fastball at 92 mph in 2011 and 90.9 in 2012, before he tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow.
Gonzalez said before Tuesday night’s game at Arizona that the report was good from Beachy’s outing, and mentioned the 92-93 mph fastball velocity. But didn’t have it written down and wasn’t certain. General manager Frank Wren later confirmed those radar-gun readings.
“That is correct,” Wren said. “He has been strong all the way through (rehab).”