The Braves and their fans – at least those who might still remember that he is a Brave – remain curious as to whether they ever will reap any benefits from last summer’s trade for veteran sidearm reliever Darren O’Day.
Describe O’Day himself as being a bit more anxious than that.
“I love my family, but I’m tired of them,” O’Day said Thursday. He hasn’t appeared in a game since June 26. “I want to go sleep in an uncomfortable hotel bed and fly ungodly hours of the night. I’m ready to get back.”
The Braves took a flier on O’Day last season when he was out rehabbing a torn hamstring, hoping he would return as the pitcher who had compiled a 2.56 ERA over 11 seasons. Then his elbow flared up in advance of this season, leading the Braves to shut him down and O’Day to seek a platelet-rich plasma injection for the troublesome joint. It was similar to the treatment he used to deal with the hamstring. Expertise in this topic is hard-won.
All these weeks later, O’Day has begun playing a little catch, but no date has been set for him to throw off a mound.
So, how’s the attitude?
“Improving,” he said. “It was poor to quite poor, but now it’s improving just because I get to go play catch and go do something that you just take for granted every day. I miss the competition. Luckily, I’m able to be around the team so I get that part of it.”
Setting any kind of timetable on a return to the bullpen – where the Braves held big hopes for him this season – is impossible. “Until he gets on the mound, when he goes to Florida to start preparing, until then, it’s just kind of day to day,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “Until he gets on the radar, he’s not.”
“When they start throwing it’s a completely different animal. They exercise, they rehabilitate, but until they start throwing, then you kind of get a feel for where they really are,” Snitker said. And there is no set time for when real throwing might commence.
So, the question persists: Do the Braves dare expect anything at all from O’Day this season?
“Because he’s throwing now, I don’t have anything to lead me that he won’t be (back) at some point in time,” Snitker said.
Asked that very question, the personable O’Day said, “Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. I actually am part of the team. I hope to make the team soon. I’ll be back in due time.”
Elsewhere in the world of Braves pitchers and their troublesome joints, Snitker seemed certain that despite his epic struggles of late, Mike Foltynewicz would be making his next start as scheduled, Sunday afternoon at home against Milwaukee.
The return from a sore shoulder has gone poorly for the guy who was the Braves’ best starter, an All Star, last year. He’s 0-4 in his four starts back. His last time out, against St. Louis on Wednesday, Foltynewicz gave up eight runs in just 4-2/3 innings. His ERA is 8.02, and 10.97 in his last two outings.
Amid some speculation that Foltynewicz might require time in Triple-A to work out his issues, Snitker was emphatic about his next start here on the big stage: “Oh, he’s going to make it,” the manager said.
They’ll continue to seek out flaws in his mechanics and work on his delivery at the major league level, Snitker said.
The manager didn’t shoot down the theory that Foltynewicz could be a little hesitant about truly cutting loose with his pitches in light of the shoulder issues.
“Could be,” he said. “I know from my experience, I had my shoulder operated on twice, and put back together again and I was a little hesitant in the beginning.”