ST. LOUIS — Braves pitcher Brandon Beachy was placed on the 15-day DL Friday, three days after feeling tightness in his surgically repaired right elbow during the last two innings of a start against the Mets.
Beachy had an MRI in Atlanta on Wednesday and will be examined Monday by Dr. James Andrews, who did Beachy’s “Tommy John” elbow surgery in June 2012.
Switch-hitting outfielder Todd Cunningham was recalled from Gwinnett to fill the roster spot and provide outfield depth for the Braves, two days after they lost right fielder Jason Heyward to a broken jaw that will likely sideline him for the rest of the regular season.
Beachy and the Braves seem fairly confident that his elbow tightness is from inflammation, rather than more serious ligament damage. He rested for a couple of weeks in late June after developing inflammation during the final stages of his surgery rehab.
“We’ll see what the doctor says on Monday and let him decide what road we take,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “I’m not really overly concerned (based on) what Beachy’s telling us.”
The DL move Friday wasn’t a surprise to Beachy, who knew he would have to miss at least a start or two after letting the Braves know about the elbow tightness.
Like Beachy, Gonzalez and pitching coach Roger McDowell noticed the drop in his velocity on the final batter he faced against the Mets on Tuesday, including an 82-mph fastball on his last pitch.
That was 8-9 mph lower than Beachy’s usual four-seam fastball, and 11 mph below his top-end speed since returning from the DL.
“That’s why I want to go find out what’s causing it,” Beachy said Friday. “I can feel so good and so bad in such a short period of time, without there being any event (to cause it).”
Beachy has discussed the situation with Kris Medlen and other pitchers who are veterans of Tommy John surgery.
“They say there’s different things like scar tissue,” he said. “I didn’t feel anything (pop) like that, so I don’t know. I just kind of felt tightness moving in.”
Gonzalez said he had a conversation Thursday at the team hotel with former Braves pitcher and current MLB Network broadcaster John Smoltz, another who came back strong following Tommy John surgery.
“Smoltzy said, everybody’s different,” Gonzalez said. “Sometimes (the rehab) is not 12 months, it’s maybe 14 to 16. Everybody’s different. That was encouraging to hear Smoltzy talk about that. He said that (Cardinals pitcher Adam) Wainwright went through it last year when he first came back, that he just never felt good for a while. Not everybody’s got the same timetable.
“At least (Beach) was smart enough to say to us, ‘I don’t feel good.’ I’m glad he did that.”
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