Brandon Beachy got the news he hoped for during a visit to Dr. James Andrews on Monday, that his elbow discomfort was caused by inflammation. The surgeon who performed his Tommy John surgery in June 2012 confirmed there was no structural damage, and Beachy will have a chance to pitch again this season.
“He confirmed what I’ve been hoping,” Beachy said Tuesday. “He just thought it was inflamed, a lot of fluid in there. The ligament is intact, and it’s good news.”
Beachy got a cortisone shot to help reduce the swelling, and the plan is to shut him down for 10 days to two weeks and then re-evaluate how he feels. With only about five weeks left in the regular season, Beachy won’t have as much time to build back up like he did before when he suffered a setback in June. He made four minor league rehabilitation starts.
“I’m not sure how that’s going to play out,” Beachy said. “I’m just excited that I should be able to pitch again this year.”
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said it’s too early to know whether Beachy would return in a starting or relieving role. Beachy said he would prefer to start, but is just happy to have a chance to contribute “any way I can.”
“Obviously I think of myself as a starter and plan to be a starter in the future, but I’m no dummy,” Beachy said. “You look at the timing of everything, I’m willing to help this team any way I can. Obviously my first priority is making sure I’m healthy, and then beyond that, helping this team win is paramount.”
Beachy just feels fortunate he’s not facing a second Tommy John ligament-transplant surgery. That’s what Braves reliever Jonny Venters faced in May when he underwent his second such operation in nine years. Instead, Beachy is 14 months removed from his June 21, 2012 surgery, dealing with the ups and downs of a recovery that can take anywhere from 12 months to 18 months.
“Everybody’s different,” Beachy said. “You write down 12 months for one guy, and it’s going to be completely different. I rest assured knowing that I followed the protocol. I did everything I could. … Hopefully at some point next year we can stop talking about this process.”
He also takes confidence in the fact that after his initial start back, against the Rockies on July 29 (seven runs in 3 2/3 innings), he pitched effectively for four starts. He allowed eight earned runs in 26 1/3 innings (2.73 ERA) with only three walks and 18 strikeouts. Even in his previous start, Aug. 20 against the Mets, when Beachy started feeling discomfort over the final two innings, he gave up three earned runs (one unearned) in six innings for his fourth consecutive quality start.
“I’m confident I don’t have those question marks that I did when I first came back,” Beachy said. “Just those five starts helped that. I know I can compete here and help this team.”