Braves lose O’Flaherty with torn elbow ligament
Braves general manager Frank Wren said Saturday left-hander Eric
O’Flaherty has a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left
The loss of O’Flaherty, who faces possible season-ending
surgery, leaves the Braves in a sudden bullpen crisis.
On Thursday, left-hander Jonny Venters had season-ending surgery
to reconstruct the ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow. It
is his second Tommy John surgery.
Also, right-hander Jordan Walden was placed on the 15-day DL
with right shoulder inflammation on Friday.
O’Flaherty and Venters have been the team’s top setup relievers
in recent years. Walden had taken a set-up role this season. Now
Wren and manager Fredi Gonzalez will have to scramble to find
different ways to set up closer Craig Kimbrel.
”It’s hard to lose two guys like we’ve lost,” Wren said. ”And
we’ll wait and see exactly how long Eric is going to be out, but
it’s not going to be a week or two, we know that.”
It’s a crucial test for the NL East-leading Braves, who entered
Saturday one-half game ahead of Washington. The loss of O’Flaherty
leaves Luis Avilan as the only left-hander in the bullpen. Anthony
Vavaro and Cory Gearrin may assume bigger roles.
Wren said the Braves must answer the challenge.
”We have to. We don’t have a choice,” Wren said. ”We’ve seen
teams lose their closer and lose their set-up guys in the past and
be able to regroup and make it work and we’re going to have to do
Wren said O’Flaherty will see Dr. James Andrews for a
consultation. Wren said a MRI on Saturday revealed the tear.
O’Flaherty was placed on the 15-day disabled list earlier
Saturday with what was called a left elbow strain.
Right-hander Cory Rasmus was called up from Triple-A Gwinnett
for Saturday night’s game against the Dodgers. Rasmus, 25, is the
younger brother of Toronto outfielder Colby Rasmus.
O’Flaherty, in his fifth season with the Braves, is 3-0 with a
2.50 ERA in 19 games. He had a 1.95 ERA through 276 appearances
with Atlanta from 2009-12.
Like Venters, O’Flaherty assumed heavy workloads. He appeared in
78 games in 2009, 78 in 2011 and 64 in 2012.
”You look at every bullpen of winning teams, there are heavy
workloads,” Wren said. ”That just goes with the territory.”
Wren said Walden, placed on the DL retroactive to May 12, could
return within a week. Right-hander Luis Ayala, placed on the 15-day
DL with anxiety disorder on April 30, could return within two
The Braves could create more bullpen depth when right-hander
Brandon Beachy makes his return from last season’s elbow-ligament
replacement surgery. Beachy is expected to make his second injury
rehab appearance with Triple-A Gwinnett on Sunday and could make
his return by the middle of June.
”That’s going to create another move we’re going to have to
make to move someone from our rotation to the bullpen,” Wren said.
”As we get healthy and get some of our pitchers back, there will
be other options for us. Still, we’ve got to figure out exactly how
we move forward.”