TORONTO — A.J. Minter endured multiple difficult stretches en route to becoming one of MLB’s best left-handed relievers. As he guts through another frustrating time, his past experiences help him keep the big-picture perspective.
“The tides are going to turn,” Minter said Sunday morning. “They’re going to sooner, hopefully, than later, but it’s going to turn eventually. I’ve been through this. Unfortunately, it’s nothing new to me. But mentally, I’m still strong. I’m doing everything I possibly can. I just wish I wasn’t letting down my teammates, my coaches. You just have to keep going. It’s still a long season. I want to get this out of the way earlier this season rather than later.
“As soon as I can get back in a groove and figure things out, I’m going to be there when my team really needs me toward the end. That’s all that matters.”
Minter surrendered two runs on three hits in the seventh inning of the Braves’ 5-2 loss Saturday in Toronto. It continued his maddening start to the season. Minter has an 8.05 ERA in 20 appearances (the most in the National League). He has allowed six earned runs in 6-1/3 innings this month.
The southpaw began the season with five scoreless outings. Since, he has allowed a run in eight of 15 appearances. But over that time, he has given up only two home runs, and he’s still striking out hitters (19:4 strikeout-to-walk ratio in past 14 innings; Minter noted he needs more swings and misses and needs to do a better job finishing hitters).
“He just has to grind through it,” manager Brian Snitker said. “He’s done it before. He’s a year removed from being one of the most effective relievers in baseball. But this game is cruel, and it just keeps testing you. He’s just going to have to keep getting after it and competing. Just not be careful. He needs to be the aggressor, not be careful and try to nitpick. We’ve all been through it in the game. He’s been through it, and he’s come back out of situations like this and been really, really good. I have every confidence he’ll do it again.”
Minter dealt with inconsistent command earlier in his career that resulted in demotions, even as recently as 2021. He was sent to Triple-A Gwinnett that July after posting a 4.86 ERA in 42 games. He returned nearly a month later and was a pivotal part of the team’s championship run.
“The storyline is still in place,” Minter said. “I’m going to come back and, hopefully, help this team win another World Series. That’s still the goal in mind. First, you have to take care of business now and win the division. Just start stringing together some good outings. Take it week by week, put together two good outings in a row. Hopefully that’ll put me on a nice little run.
“Who cares, this past month. I just want to be at my best come September. That’s when it really counts.”
Minter also credited the Braves’ clubhouse for helping him persist.
“Having these teammates in this clubhouse, I mean everyone just has my back. Snit called me into his office the other day and said, ‘Hey, I’m going to keep throwing you out there. You’re going to get through this.’ He has all the confidence in me, and we’re going to get through it together. So that meant a lot for him to do that. It’d be a whole different story if I didn’t have the teammates that I have and the coaching staff I have. They make it a lot easier.”
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