Jesse Chavez returns to Braves, who could use the boost in their bullpen

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

When the Braves were at home, Jesse Chavez was around Truist Park while rehabbing. When they were on the road, he sent text messages to his teammates, as if he were there in spirit.

Chavez spent around three months on the injured list, and he really felt it.

“Just being able to compete with the guys, day in and day out,” he said of what he missed most. “I was with them, win or loss, along the way. It was a long three months, that’s for sure.”

Now, he’s back.

The Braves on Tuesday reinstated Chavez from the 60-day injured list. To make room on the 40-man roster, the Braves designated left-hander Lucas Luetge for assignment.

Nick Anderson, Collin McHugh and Daysbel Hernandez – three righties – began rehab assignments with Triple-A Gwinnett on Tuesday. (Their results are at the bottom of this story.)

On his rehab assignment, Chavez allowed two hits over 3-1/3 scoreless innings across three appearances. He struck out six batters and walked one.

“I’m feeling good,” Chavez said. “I think we checked all the boxes last week down in Gwinnett, getting back to the action. The force over my leg, it’s no longer an issue. I don’t see it being anything moving forward. I just wanted to get back in time. Hopefully I can give Snit and the organization – me being an option for the postseason.”

This comes at a nice time for the Braves’ bullpen, which has struggled lately. Perhaps Chavez can provide a bit of a boost.

His versatility and ability to pitch in any situation are valuable traits.

“It’s always good when you have those types of guys,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “Jesse’s been a really big part of what we’ve been doing around for a couple years. I think he’s been through all the situation, nothing’s gonna bother him. But the good thing is, he was throwing the ball really well here before we sent him out. It was just more of the leg thing and moving around and running, covering first, and he’s proven he can do that.”

After Chavez completed a live batting practice session in Gwinnett – which preceded his rehab assignment – he was encouraged by how his body bounced back. On the rehab assignment, he noticed signs, like how he executed pitches, that he was almost ready to return.

The main question, though: How’s the leg?

Chavez wondered the same thing at one time.

“In my head, every time it was, ‘How am I going to look covering first? How am I gonna look running around, backing up, running in?’” he said. “But that all went out the window once I got off the mound.”

Chavez has been out since the middle of June, when he suffered a microfracture in his left shin after Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera struck him with a comebacker. At first, Chavez and the Braves thought his shin was only badly bruised.

Then it took a bit longer to heal, which prompted Chavez to wonder: Why?

When the inflammation went down, Chavez underwent more testing, which revealed the microfracture. As Chavez progressed, the most difficult part for him was putting weight on the left leg. He struggled to run well enough to field his position.

On Tuesday, Chavez said that, had the microfracture been discovered sooner, he might not have returned by now. The reason: If the training staff knew he had a fractured shin, he wouldn’t have been able to be on his leg while keeping his arm hot (as he did in the weeks after he sustained this injury).

But none of those details matter now.

Chavez has returned, which is positive news for him and everyone around him.

“It’s huge,” pitcher Max Fried said. “He’s one of the main guys in the bullpen. Just a big leader and veteran presence on the team. He’s obviously been through a lot, and he’s been with us through a while. He’s been here every day, he roots us on.”

Rehab assignments

The Triple-A season ends on Sunday. This means Anderson, McHugh and Hernandez don’t have much time to make a case for the postseason roster.

Asked if the Braves could potentially recall them for the final week of the major-league regular season, Snitker said the club could do that, but that all three guys probably had enough time to make three rehab outings this week.

On Tuesday, Anderson allowed two runs on three hits over 1/3 of an inning. He also issued a walk. He threw 21 pitches, and 13 were strikes.

McHugh allowed four runs on two hits and two walks. He pitched 1/3 of an inning, and threw 23 pitches – 10 for strikes.

Hernandez struck out two batters and walked two over 2/3 of an inning.