Braves notebook: Beachy avoids surgery

ATLANTA — After spending a nerve-wracking day in Pensacola, Fla. — the headquarters of Dr. James Andrews’ practice — Brandon Beachy looked relieved as he addressed reporters before Tuesday’s game against the Indians: he will not need surgery on his inflamed right elbow. Andrews did tell Beachy and the Braves doctors that there is an ample amount of unwanted fluid, but that the ligament is indeed intact.

Now, the Braves righty just needs time to rest and rehabilitate.

Of course, this is the same elbow that Beachy needed Tommy John surgery on last year for a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament, so the time off is a far better option than the (additional 12- to 18-month) alternative.

“It’s good news,” Beachy said. “I think tentatively (Andrews) estimated shutting me down for about 10 more days from yesterday (Monday). But that’s not set in stone or anything. We’re gonna play it by ear and make sure the fluid and everything’s out of there, it’s all calmed down and feeling good again before I pick up the ball.

“Worse case scenario would have been going under the knife again, repeat this very brutal process all over again.”

Beachy received a Cortisone injection to calm the inflammation in Pensacola, and from here on out he will undergo hot-cold contrast-type treatment to promote blood flow through the elbow. Overall, though, he mainly needs to time.

But with good news comes the reality that time, at least in regular season terms, is rather scarce. There are just 32 games remaining on Atlanta’s schedule, which, if Beachy does only need the prescribed 10 days before he can begin to throw again, does not leave a substantial timeframe for rehab to build back up strength. The process is made more difficult by the absence of a minor league season, so if Beachy is going to pitch again in 2013 (as he plans to) he’ll need find his form through simulation games, bullpen sessions, etc. Beachy has looked ahead to how the schedule plays out, but he said trying to formulate a detailed plan at this point is “futile.”

The National League Divisional Series is scheduled to start on Oct. 2.

Beachy said he is open to helping the team wherever possible, including the bullpen, an option that manager Fredi Gonzalez was understandably open but noncommittal toward.

“Obviously, I think of myself as a starter and plan to be a starter in the future. But I’m no dummy. I mean, you look at the timing of everything. I’m willing to help this team any way I can. Obviously my first priority is making sure I’m healthy, and beyond that helping this team win is paramount.”

Beachy is 2-1 with a 4.50 ERA in five starts this season.

Jason Heyward on the mend, too

Braves right fielder Jason Heyward made his first public appearance since undergoing surgery to repair the jaw he fractured after being hit by a pitch last week against the New York Mets — and he brought a strawberry banana peanut butter smoothie along with him.

Heyward said Dr. Glenn Maron, the team’s maxillofacial surgeon, said he could begin physical activities possibly as soon as Thursday. The 6-foot-5 outfielder has two rubber bands holding his jawline stable between meals of soup, ice cream, yogurt, smoothies and other post-wisdom-teeth-removal type of foods.

“It’s pretty painful, especially with no medicine,” Heyward said. “It’s pretty tough to take medicine all the time because I don’t want to be sleepy during the day, but I was able to switch medicines yesterday with the doctor to give me something that’s just going to keep the swelling down and allow me to be active and be awake.”

Heyward said he still does not have a timetable on the rehab process, but that his plans are simple: get back on the field as quickly as he can.

“My goal is to be hopefully playing in the playoffs,” he said. “I don’t know what’s going to be sooner, I don’t know what’s going to be later, I don’t know how long it’s going to take to heal. But I know as soon as possible I’d like to be playing baseball again.”

Much like with the Beachy situation, there will not be the option of minor league rehab plate appearances for Heyward when he does return.

Heyward said he has lost four or five pounds during his soft-serve diet and that he is not opposed to wearing protective gear if necessary once he returns.

The Braves went 1-3 in their newfound leadoff hitter’s absence in St. Louis, with his replacement, Jordan Schafer, hit 2-for-16 with a double, a triple and no walks in the series.