An MRI on Saturday morning revealed what both Braves physicians and Brandon Beachy suspected — he has some inflammation in his surgically repaired elbow, but no structural damage and just needs some rest.
Beachy said he experienced some discomfort recently and hoped it would improve before his originally scheduled return Tuesday against the Mets. But he struggled to get comfortable in three innings of a minor league rehabilitation start Thursday night with Triple-A Gwinnett.
“I’ve just got some inflammation,” Beachy said. “It’s been building up and just wasn’t going away like the other muscular stuff had and felt like I had some fluid in there. … We’re just going to give it some rest, and it’ll clear out. I’m not worried at all. It’s just unfortunate, the timing of it. I wish it would have happened three weeks ago instead of right now.”
Beachy went nearly 12 months in his recovery from Tommy John surgery without a hitch. But that’s all he and the Braves believe this is — a minor setback.
“It seems like everybody has something in their (recovery); mine just waited until the very end of the process to kind of flare up on me,” said Beachy, who said he’s not going on any kind of timeline now. “However long it takes. As soon as (the fluid) gets out of there, I’ll start throwing again.”
Chance for Wood? The Braves don't plan to announce who will pitch in Beachy's place Tuesday against the Mets until after Sunday's game, but it appears they're considering giving rookie left-hander Alex Wood a spot start.
Wood, who has spent the past three weeks in the bullpen, took batting practice for the first time Saturday afternoon with the rest of the Braves rotation, an indication he could have his first major league start in the near future.
When asked if the Braves are thinking about having Wood start one of the games of Tuesday’s doubleheader, manager Fredi Gonzalez said: “I’m kind of open. We’re seeing how we get through these next couple days and see what our options are.”
Wood hasn’t started a game since May 25, when he went seven innings and allowed one run for Double-A Mississippi. He was 4-2 with a 1.26 ERA in 10 Double-A starts this season.
“You could probably get three, four innings, five innings out of him if we had to,” Gonzalez said.
Wood has been a starter all his life, in high school in Charlotte, N.C., at the University of Georgia, and this past year in the minor leagues after the Braves drafted him in the second round in 2012. He would relish the chance to start.
“They haven’t told me anything, but I’m about to go hit (batting practice), so we’ll see,” said Wood, who said he would feel comfortable despite the layoff since his last start. “It’s one of those things where it’s probably easier for me to go out there and start than it is in terms of being back-to-back days and stuff like that at this point.”
Wood has a 3.52 ERA in 7 2/3 innings over six relief appearances since his major league call-up May 30. He had his rockiest outing yet Friday night against the Giants, walking three batters and allowing two runs — one of which scored on a balk.
“I honestly can’t even remember the last time I got called for a balk,” said Wood, who said he paused for a “millisecond” as he was coming set. “I guess they call everything up here, though, especially when you’re a young guy. … It’s one of those things where you’ve got to put it in the past, keep plugging along.”
Wood said he was more frustrated by the walks. He had walked only one batter in his first 6 2/3 innings.
The Braves don’t seem to have an obvious alternative to start Tuesday among the pitchers at Triple-A Gwinnett, where prospect Sean Gilmartin is struggling. He is 3-6 with a 5.40 ERA in 12 starts this season and gave up 10 runs (nine earned) in 3 2/3 innings in his previous start. And No. 2 prospect J.R. Graham is still in Orlando, Fla., rehabbing from a shoulder strain.
The Mets are pitching rookie phenom Matt Harvey in the first game of the day/night doubleheader, and Smyrna native Zack Wheeler is scheduled to make his debut in the second game. Wheeler was a first-round draft pick of the Giants in 2009 out of East Paulding High School. He was traded to the Mets for Carlos Beltran in July 2011.
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