Braves reliever A.J. Minter readies for rehab appearance in coming days

Atlanta Braves relief pitcher A.J. Minter (33) jogs to the mound before he pitches in the ninth inning against the Chicago Cubs at Truist Park, Monday, May 13, 2024, in Atlanta. The Braves won 2-0. (Jason Getz / AJC)

Credit: Jason Getz /

Credit: Jason Getz /

Atlanta Braves relief pitcher A.J. Minter (33) jogs to the mound before he pitches in the ninth inning against the Chicago Cubs at Truist Park, Monday, May 13, 2024, in Atlanta. The Braves won 2-0. (Jason Getz / AJC)

The Braves have labeled A.J. Minter’s injury as “left hip inflammation.”

To be more specific: Minter on Tuesday said he’s dealing with a left hip impingement.

“It’s kind of hard to throw when you can’t use your legs the way you want to,” Minter told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

In the simplest terms possible, a hip impingement occurs when “there is abnormal alignment of and contact between the bones that form the ball and socket of the hip joint,” according to the Hospital of Special Surgery. But now, Minter has gotten the impingement cleared up and is on his way to returning.

Minter threw a bullpen session Monday. He said he’ll throw live batting practice Wednesday in Rome against hitters from the Braves’ High-A affiliate. He’s scheduled to throw in a rehab game for Rome on Saturday.

Minter said he doesn’t know how long he’d been affected by the hip impingement before the Braves placed him on the injured list May 30.

“Obviously, the velocity has been down a little bit this year,” Minter said. “I was trying to tell the trainers, ‘I just can’t use my legs real well.’ They looked at it and did all the tests they do, and I was getting a little bit of irritation with any external rotation in my hip.”

This season, Minter has averaged 94.8 mph with his four-seam fastball, as opposed to 95.8 mph last season. It seems like Minter had been pitching through the impingement because he didn’t know it existed.

Minter said he’s thrown two and a half or three bullpen sessions – depending on how you view it. One of those was a “touch and feel,” which is when a pitcher throws lightly. Wednesday will be the first time he faces hitters since May 29, when he tossed a scoreless inning against the Nationals before hitting the injured list the next day.

And if all goes well Saturday, would that be his only rehab appearance?

“Yeah, I mean, that’s up to (Braves president of baseball operations and general manager) Alex (Anthopoulos),” Minter said. “I’ll let him make that decision. See how well it goes first in Rome, and if he wants me to throw another game, I’ll do that. It really just depends on how I bounce back, how I feel.”

Minter said the athletic training staff didn’t give him a formal timeline for the injury. The team is focused on taking it day by day. The Braves, as they would with anyone, want to be cautious.

“It’s not a shoulder injury, it’s not a physical injury – it’s more of just making sure we don’t rush it, that way it doesn’t set me back and (doesn’t) end up being a serious injury,” Minter said. “It’s more of just taking our time with it, doing all the right steps.”

Minter is eligible to return whenever the training staff deems him ready to do so.

Minter is a key part of the Braves’ bullpen. The group, which is deep, has persisted and done well without him.

But the Braves will be even better when he returns.

“I’m just kind of learning how to use my legs properly again,” he said.

Good feel by the Braves’ coaches and catchers

After his last start, which came in Baltimore, Spencer Schwellenbach said he debuted his sinker. He threw it in the offseason, but minor-league coaches told him to stop throwing it.

Recently, Braves pitching coach Rick Kranitz and catching coach Sal Fasano, as well as catchers Sean Murphy and Travis d’Arnaud, urged Schwellenbach to bring it back.

This is yet another example of how much Atlanta’s staff benefits the players.

“As they get to know him and the guys catch him, they see things – with pitch mix, things like that – they’ll be good for him, in that respect, because they know the league a lot better than he does,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “They all have been doing a lot longer than he has. But with his feel and everything, I see him buried in there talking to them between innings – he’s got a good feel for things.”

Braves relieved about Waldrep

The Braves’ full evaluation on Hurston Waldrep’s right elbow produced the same result as they initially thought: He’s dealing with inflammation.

This was a relief to the Braves.

“You just never know when they get checked out, what’s gonna come back,” Snitker said. “So I’m glad for him, too, because I know he enjoys competing and pitching. I guarantee you he didn’t want to have a delay in this education process that he’s going through this year. Hopefully we’ll look back on it and it’ll be a good thing.”