Braves notes: Darius Vines will stay ready for anything; Sean Murphy keeps moving

Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Darius Vines (61) throws a pitch during the fourth inning of Atlanta Braves’ home opener spring training baseball game at CoolToday Park, Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024, in North Port, Florida. (Hyosub Shin /



Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Darius Vines (61) throws a pitch during the fourth inning of Atlanta Braves’ home opener spring training baseball game at CoolToday Park, Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024, in North Port, Florida. (Hyosub Shin /

MIAMI — Last summer, Braves pitcher Darius Vines was called up for the first time. Of course, there was nothing like it.

Still, each subsequent call-up has come with a similar level of excitement.

“Yeah, man. It’s always exciting and great to be here,” Vines said. “But nothing’s like that first time. I guess the nerves are just a little bit less. You’re obviously still nervous out there – I get nervous every pitch. But just being able to be here, just feel a little bit more comfortable. Being able to know that I can do this and help the team win has definitely helped.”

The Braves seemingly plan to use Vines as they did Allan Winans, whom they optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett following Thursday’s game. Vines will provide a fresh arm and, if he goes unused, could be a candidate to start Tuesday’s game in Houston – the next time that rotation spot comes around again. (This rotation spot was left vacant by Spencer Strider, who sustained a UCL sprain.)

“I’m just gonna stay ready so I don’t have to try to get ready,” Vines said. “I don’t know what’s gonna happen, but whenever my name’s called, I’m gonna go out there and (give) my all, and help this team win.”

Winans started Thursday’s game, but it didn’t go well. He gave up seven runs – six earned – over five innings. His defense didn’t help him out, but results often matter for those who aren’t mainstays.

In two starts for Gwinnett thus far, Vines, who debuted last season, has allowed five earned runs across 12 innings. He’s struck out 11 batters and walked three. His last outing was great: He tossed seven innings of two-run baseball versus Louisville.

Vines has taken what he emphasized in spring training and applied it to the regular season.

“I honestly just worked on getting ahead early,” Vines said. “My best thing about me is my off-speed, so once I get ahead early, just being able to use both (off-speed pitches) for strikes, all three (off-speed pitches) for strikes.”

Vines, as you may have noticed, began talking about his two off-speed pitches, then mentioned three. That’s because he got his curveball back, and he has experienced some success landing it in the strike zone. Last season, his off-speed pitches were a change-up and a slider.

On April 5, Strider reported elbow discomfort after his start. The Braves said his MRI revealed damage to the UCL in his right elbow.

The injury left a vacancy in the Braves’ rotation, and the team might shuffle through different options until something sticks.

Winans went first. Vines is up now.

Bryce Elder, an All-Star last season, eventually could hold the spot. Elder permitted only three earned runs over 10-1/3 innings across his first two starts for Gwinnett.

Last season, Vines posted a 3.98 ERA over 20-1/3 innings in the majors. In his debut, he allowed only two runs over six innings at Coors Field, which is a pitcher’s nightmare.

The second-half success in the bigs gave Vines confidence that he can do this and do it well.

“I feel like the big thing here (in the major leagues) is confidence,” he said. “That gets you going on the right path. But just being here with these guys and being able to throw the ball and when it goes over the plate, I got a lot of good people behind me. That’s definitely the one thing that helps me a lot – trust (in) everybody else.”

Nothing on Strider yet

What have the medical folks recommended in terms of a treatment plan for Strider (UCL sprain)?

“Nothing, yet,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said before Friday’s game.

The Braves are expected to release an update on Strider this weekend. It should provide clarity on his future.

Among the unanswered questions: Did he partially tear his UCL? Is it a full tear? Does he need Tommy John surgery or is there a chance he could avoid it?

Six days ago, the Braves announced Strider’s MRI revealed “damage” to the UCL in his right elbow. There hasn’t been anything new since.

In fairness to the team, this usually is a process. It takes a few days. Normally, clubs don’t come out and announce a player needs Tommy John surgery right after his MRI results come back. The player and team can seek other opinions, then decide on the best path forward.

It’s usually a waiting game for fans.

Braves keeping Sean Murphy moving

Hours before first pitch Friday, Sean Murphy (oblique strain) wore a glove on his left hand. He was standing on the field talking to a couple of people.

“He threw a little bit today, like flat-footed,” Snitker said. “He’s doing a little more activity. Which is a good sign. I think that they’re getting him active and moving him around. It’s a good sign. It’s only been two weeks. It feels like it’s been two months. But it’s just a time-consuming injury to get back, and we knew that going in.”

Murphy isn’t hitting yet. As Snitker has said, this is a lengthy process. But throwing a bit is encouraging.