SAN DIEGO – It was just one more step in what’s been a long and frustrating recovery for Jonny Venters, but it was a significant step in his view.
The Braves left-hander threw 15 pitches from the bullpen mound Friday at Petco Park, the first time Venters threw from a mound since having a platelet-rich plasma injection in his surgically repaired elbow in mid-June. The veteran reliever said he threw at an estimated 70-80 percent effort.
“I was excited to get out there and see what it felt like, and it felt normal, really,” said Venters, who is 15 months into an attempted comeback from a second Tommy John surgery in May 2013. “You always want to see how you feel the next day. So far I’m fine. So I’m going to go out and play catch, and hopefully get off the mound again here in the next couple of days.”
Venters got the PRP injection from Dr. James Andrews after having continued discomfort and tightness in the elbow each time he ramped up his rehab throwing program.
One of the majors’ dominant relievers just a few years, Venters has had a setbacks in his surgery rehab and hasn’t pitched in a game since spring training 2013, but remains optimistic about pitching for the Braves this season.
“Yeah, absolutely,” he said. “That’s the goal. That’s my goal…. It’s tough to put a timetable on it after you have two setbacks. You don’t know how it’s going to respond. But I’m happy with the way it’s going right now.”
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez has made it a recent policy not to talk about Venters’ rehab at every stage or development. He said the goal is just to get Venters healthy again, and that there’s no timetable for his return.
As of Sunday morning, Gonzalez hadn’t spoken with pitching coach Roger McDowell about Venters’ Saturday session.
“I assume everything went fine,” Gonzalez said. “But again, it’s only a light pen. I don’t want to put any undue pressure or undue expectations on Jonny by talking about it every time he throws a pen. I don’t think it’s fair to him. He’s battling second-time Tommy John and he’s had some setbacks.”
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Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com