As it turns out, Braves reliever Jesse Chavez was dealing with a microfracture in left shin

Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Jesse Chavez (60) is helped off the field after being hit by a Detroit Tigers' Miguel Cabrera ground ball in the sixth inning during the first baseball game of a doubleheader, Wednesday, June 14, 2023, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

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Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Jesse Chavez (60) is helped off the field after being hit by a Detroit Tigers' Miguel Cabrera ground ball in the sixth inning during the first baseball game of a doubleheader, Wednesday, June 14, 2023, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Credit: AP

As Jesse Chavez’s left shin contusion took longer than he expected to heal, he wondered about it.

“Me healing as fast as I normally heal and not ever being hurt because I heal fast, it’s kind of one of those things where it’s just like, ‘Why is it taking so long for a bruise, if that’s the case?’” Chavez, who turned 40 years old on Monday, recalled.

The answer: It was not just a bruise.

In the middle of the Braves’ last road trip, Chavez, who was back in Atlanta for his rehab, received another MRI. It revealed a microfracture in that shin, which provided him with much-needed clarity. The original MRI didn’t catch it because his shin was so inflamed.

“As small as they are, they can be hidden by inflammation,” Chavez said. “It doesn’t matter how smart (you are) or what kind of certificates you got on the wall, you’re going to miss something eventually. I get why we wanted to get the other (MRI).”

At first, Chavez didn’t know why the team wanted him to do another MRI. He was progressing well. But he now understands it was for the best.

And anyone who saw the play in which Chavez suffered the microfracture would not be surprised to read this news. Miguel Cabrera, who will one day be a Hall of Famer, smoked a 100 mph comebacker that drilled Chavez in the left shin.

Chavez on Monday threw a live batting practice session – which is a way for rehabbing pitchers to face hitters in a controlled environment. Chavez said he hurled 30 pitches. He threw all of his pitches.

It looked bad at the time. The X-rays were negative, but Chavez couldn’t put much pressure on that leg.

“For the layoff, I will say that it felt about as close to normal as I could get,” Chavez said. “No lingering issues from the shin, where I got hit, or anything like that. So that’s the good part. It’s been getting better day to day. Running has been getting better.”

Chavez said he expects to throw another live batting practice session at the end of the week. If that goes well, he hopes to begin a rehab assignment after it.

Chavez said running is the final step for him. He must prove he can run at full speed and field his position.

All is going well, though.

“The last few weeks, I would say the shin hasn’t been a problem, from where I got hit,” he said. “It’s been more of the calf being activated again, the muscles getting used to being worked again. I would say when (the Braves) were on the (last) road trip, the middle of that road trip, I would say I finally started getting soreness in my left leg, in a good way. Because I haven’t felt anything other than my right leg move. Starting to feel that activate again has been the biggest plus for us moving forward now, where now I’m able to skip, I’m able to put pressure, I’m able to do single-leg squats and stuff like that – where I wasn’t even able to do that 15 days ago. And that’s where I was beating myself up about not knowing, and then we find out what actually happened after, finally, all the inflammation and stuff cleared from the impact – there was a slight little thing in there.”

Recently, as previously mentioned, Chavez learned about the microfracture.

“So being able to understand that part kind of made my mind go to ease,” he said. “Once that happened and I found that out, my recovery actually got way faster and better on a daily basis.”

The Braves’ medical team told him to relax because the microfracture would heal on its own. It doesn’t sound like Chavez stopped his rehab when he found that out, because, well, that’s not Jesse Chavez. He’s go, go, go. If he’s not in the clubhouse, he’s in the weight room.

“It’ll take its course,” the Braves told him.

Chavez added: “And that was the hardest part, is I want to take the course for it.”

The comebacker gave Chavez nerve issues.

“(The calf) didn’t know when to seize and when to flex,” he said. “When I would hit (the ground), I was walking toe to heel instead of using my foot, because everything was like a clock, because there was no calf in between, and that’s the one that fires the middle of the arch, that runs up through the calf muscle. That was the biggest thing, is there was nerve damage in there from what it was, and it was pretty bad when it got me. Getting back the calf is the biggest plus right now. I wouldn’t have been able to (throw live batting practice) if I didn’t have the calf activated the last 10 days, 15 days. That’s 100% for sure. They wouldn’t have let me go out there today.”

If all continues going well, it seems Chavez could be healthy in time to return to the bullpen. Pitchers can be on a rehab assignment for a maximum of 30 days. It all depends on Chavez’s progression and how long the Braves leave him on his rehab assignment.

He’s certainly itching to get back.

“It eats at me not being with them every single day having to go through it with them,” Chavez said. “But they know that I’m there watching them do this and continue the special run that we’re on. It’s pretty special, and I just clap my hands every time I watch them. It makes me happy and very, very thankful for them – for the kind of group that we’ve got and the guys we’ve brought in, that’s for sure.”

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