NEW YORK – After a little more than two weeks in Braves minor league camp and extended spring training, pitcher Kris Medlen remains optimistic that he can revive his career with the team he started with.
The right-hander signed a minor league deal with the Braves in late January, after coming back from two Tommy John elbow surgeries and missing part of the 2016 season with the Royals because of shoulder problems.
Medlen, 31, considered retiring after last season, but changed his mind after meeting with a biomechanics expert in New Orleans and becoming convinced that an altered pitching delivery could help alleviate stress on his arm and possibly allow him to continue pitching.
The Braves agreed to let the affable veteran work out with his biomechanics guy before reporting late to spring training. They signed Medlen to a deal that will pay him a prorated rate of $1 million for any time spent in the major leagues this season, with incentives that could more than double that amount.
Medlen said Wednesday that he had thrown a handful of bullpen sessions without any issues so far.
“Progressing well in Orlando, getting my feet back under me getting ready to go,” he said via text message. “Feels damn good to be part of this organization again.”
Medlen debuted in the majors with Atlanta in 2009 and went 41-25 with a 3.25 ERA in 173 games (75 starts) over five seasons with the Braves through 2013. He caused a stir in 2012, going 10-1 with a 1.57 ERA in 50 games, including 9-0 with a 0.97 ERA in 12 starts after a midseason move to the rotation.
He his second Tommy John surgery with the Braves in 2014 spring training, missed that entire season and left as a free agent, signing a two-year, $8.5 million deal with Kansas City — a contract that was an indication of how highly he was thought of by Royals general manager Dayton Moore and other former Braves officials in Kansas City’s front office.
After going 6-2 with a 4.01 ERA in 15 games (eight starts) in 2015, Medlen had shoulder injuries twice in 2016 and was limited to six starts, going 1-3 with a 7.77 ERA.
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