DENVER – The Braves hope to finally have reliever Shae Simmons back in late August, while rookie right-hander John Gant could be back sooner than that from an oblique strain.
Gant, on the disabled list since June 28, threw off a mound Friday for the first time since the injury.
“Gant threw a side today and was really good,” said Braves interim manager Brian Snitker, adding that Gant would soon begin a series of rehab starts before his anticipated return to the majors.
Gant was up and down four times from Triple-A this season before the injury and posted a 5.04 ERA in 11 games including a 3.38 ERA in four starts.
Meanwhile, starter Williams Perez, on the DL with a rotator-cuff strain in his shoulder, hasn’t been cleared yet to begin throwing.
Simmons is set to make a Gulf Coast League start and throw about 15-20 pitches Saturday as he begins another rehab assignment, still trying to make it back to the majors for the first time since having Tommy John elbow surgery in February 2015.
He was in the final stages of a minor league rehab assignment in early June before being forced to shut it down after developing latissimus dorsi tendinitis near his pitching shoulder.
Snitker said Simmons is scheduled to make three or four appearances in the Gulf Coast League before moving his rehab stint up to a higher minor league classification. After his most recent setback, he will likely need the full 30-day maximum injury-rehab stint to rebuild arm strength before returning to the majors.
A healthy Simmons would be a big addition for the Braves in the last couple of months of the season, allowing him to work back towards being the big contributor the Braves expected him to be before he blew out the ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow during a mound session just before 2015 spring training.
If the Braves could get him back by late August or the beginning of September, it could give them time to gauge Simmons’ health and have a better idea what to expect going into next season. When healthy, he has shown the potential to be a top setup man or closer.
As a rookie in 2014, Simmons went on the disabled list July 29 with shoulder soreness and didn’t pitch again that season. He had been called up for the first time May 31, 2014, converted a save in his second game, and posted a 0.96 ERA and .172 opponents’ average in his first 20 appearances.
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