LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Manny Banuelos and the Braves can’t help but be frustrated by recurring problems the young left-hander is having with his pitching elbow.
After season-ending surgery in September to remove bone chips that had formed since his Tommy John elbow surgery three years earlier, Banuelos planned to compete for a spot in the starting rotation this spring. The Braves certainly could use a lefty in an otherwise all-right-handed rotation.
But despite the Braves being careful not to push him early in camp, Banuelos has been stalled again by elbow soreness, which flared after his last outing March 22. An MRI taken in the past week showed no damage, according to Banuelos, who said he hoped to pitch again within a few days.
However, there’s no timetable for his return and Braves general manager John Coppolella said the team was still evaluating its options with Banuelos.
“Yeah, it is (frustrating),” Banuelos said. “But just got to be patient. I can’t control that. Just keep working, do whatever I’ve got to do and just come back strong
Banuelos gave up five hits and five runs in 1 2/3 innings of that game against the Astros and has a 12.10 ERA in three Grapefruit League games (one start), allowing 12 hits, nine runs and five walks with five strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings.
He doesn’t think the latest setback is anything serious. “Doesn’t feel like it, but we’ll see,” he said. “I’m not worried too much. I wish I could pitch, man.”
Banuelos was 1-4 with a 5.13 ERA in seven games (six starts) in his first major league season, totals that weren’t indicative of his overall performance. He allowed one or no earned runs in his first four games, then 13 earned runs in 9 2/3 innings over his last three games while pitching with increasing discomfort before the bone-chip surgery.