Beachy excited for Monday return

Braves pitcher Brandon Beachy, making a rehab start with the Gwinnett Braves, delivers a pitch against the Norfolk Tides during the first inning at Coolray Field on Tuesday, July 9, 2013, in Lawrenceville. He'll return to the mound at Turner Field on Monday, July 29, 2013.

Credit: CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

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Braves pitcher Brandon Beachy, making a rehab start with the Gwinnett Braves, delivers a pitch against the Norfolk Tides during the first inning at Coolray Field on Tuesday, July 9, 2013, in Lawrenceville. He'll return to the mound at Turner Field on Monday, July 29, 2013.

Credit: CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

Credit: CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

With the trade deadline just days away, and the viable options to add a top-of-the-rotation starter limited, the Braves know it’s a nice luxury to be able to insert Brandon Beachy into the rotation Monday night against the Rockies.

Beachy is set to make his long-awaited return to the mound after more than 13 months out following Tommy John surgery. He’ll pitch in place of Tim Hudson, who underwent season-ending ankle injury on Friday and was just released from the hospital on Sunday.

“It’s almost like a trade,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “Like a big piece on the trade deadline - a guy that before he got hurt, he was one of the dominant pitchers in the National League. I don’t think he’s going to pitch to that level, first time out, but I think he’ll be close.”

Beachy was leading the National League with a 2.00 ERA on June 16, 2012 when he tore his ulnar collateral ligament pitching against the Orioles. He was just hitting his stride in his second full major league season. Now Beachy returns to join a stretch run he missed last season.

“I’m excited,” Beachy said. “I’m ready. Been waiting a long time for this.”

The Braves originally hoped to have Beachy back for a June 18 doubleheader against the Mets but he suffered a setback with elbow inflammation just prior to returning. Beachy said he hasn’t had any problems since, after 10 days of rest and then preparing for and throwing four more starts on a minor league rehabilitation assignment.

Beachy might have made one more start on his rehab assignment if Hudson hadn’t broken his ankle Wednesday night in New York, but both he and the Braves were comfortable that he’s ready. That’s something Beachy said he could feel over the final start or two.

“Obviously it’s going to be a little faster here than it was in Triple-A,” Beachy said. “But there was definitely a moment where things kind of started slowing down and felt in control no matter what the count, what the situation.”

Gonzalez said he’d likely cap Beachy at around 100 pitches, treating it like his first start coming out of spring training. Beachy got up to about 95 pitches in his final rehab outing, including some post-game bullpen work.

For Beachy, Monday might feel a little like making his major league debut all over again. Only this time he’s actually had a lot more anticipation. Beachy broke into the majors on Sept. 20, 2010 in Philadelphia, not knowing if he was even going to be needed for the start until Jair Jurrjens tested out his knee prior to the game.

“It’ll probably be more typical of other people’s debuts this time around in the sense that I know it’s coming and I’ve got time to prepare for it,” Beachy said. “You know the story of the last one. Kind of happened so fast, it didn’t really sink in to me. Hopefully I’ll be able to sleep tonight, control my emotions tomorrow.”

The Braves will likely put Paul Maholm (sore left wrist) on the disabled list when they activate Beachy.