Might be time to break up 'O'Ventbrel'
Manager Fredi Gonzalez used relievers Eric O'Flaherty, Jonny Venters and Craig Kimbrel -- in that order -- so often last year that a single name morphed into being for them: O'Ventbrel.
It hasn't been the same this year because the Braves have been in so few close games and because Venters had been struggling the first two months of the season as he worked out a mechanical flaw. He'd turned in seven clean outings before blowing Tuesday's game versus the Yankees.
But even if Venters weren't suspect, Gonzalez is considering breaking up lefty-lefty-righty at the end of the bullpen because opposing teams know now that's how the Braves finish. Gonzalez sees them adjusting their pinch-hitters accordingly throughout the game.
Gonzalez is a big numbers guy in addition to being superstitious. He combs every outlet for nuggets of information on opposing teams and tries to counter what he anticipates they'll do.
In this Braves bullpen, he has the ideal group to try to foil other managers' plans.
"We've got a bunch of low-maintenance guys out there," O'Flaherty said. "Jonny and I joke that we'd like to come in in the sixth inning so we'd have more time to work out after the game."
O'Flaherty has a stiff left elbow that's causing problems for Gonzalez at the moment. He doesn't know how it happened; he just woke up with it Monday morning. He can't really bend his arm.
He's taken anti-inflammatories for it, and the trainers have been trying in vain to manipulate it. He played catch a bit before Wednesday's game and is scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Friday. If that goes well, he hopes to be available that night versus the Orioles. But that's the most optimistic case. Saturday, he thinks, is more likely.
In Wednesday's 3-2 loss to the Yankees, Gonzalez relied on Chad Durbin for 1 2/3 innings, then saw the perfect opportunity to bring Venters back. He got the strikeout to end the inning.
"He responded," Gonzalez said. "I knew he would."
--1B Freddie Freeman was out of the lineup to allow the swelling on his bruised left index finger and thumb to go down. The Braves have an off day Thursday, and manager Fredi Gonzalez hopes having two solid days off will help. Freeman hasn't been able to grip his bat properly because of the pain and swelling, and it's obviously affecting his offense.
--LHP Eric O'Flaherty woke up Monday morning with a sore left elbow and has not been available out of the bullpen. He's been taking anti-inflammatories, but manager Fredi Gonzalez thinks he may not be available for another day or two.
--RHP Anthony Varvaro has been called up from Triple-A Gwinnett to provide a fresh arm for the taxed bullpen. Manager Fredi Gonzalez and pitching coach Roger McDowell are trying to get by without having to put LHP Eric O'Flaherty (stiff left elbow) on the disabled list.
--RHP Cory Gearrin has been optioned back to Triple-A Gwinnett to make room for a fresh arm in the bullpen, RHP Anthony Varvaro. The Braves were happy with the way Gearrin threw, but LHP Eric O'Flaherty is out with a stiff elbow and other short relievers having made multiple recent appearances.
--RHP Randall Delgado was out early Wednesday afternoon doing his own agility drill. He laid out baseballs in an S pattern on the outfield grass, then zigzagged from one to the next. Delgado just missed tagging out a runner at home in his last start, Wednesday's 3-0 loss to the Yankees, when he fumbled picking up the ball.
QUOTE TO NOTE
"Relievers have short memories." -- Manager Fredi Gonzalez, on whether he worries about LHP Jonny Venters' confidence after blowing Tuesday's game.ROSTER REPORT
--RHP Peter Moylan (right shoulder surgery in October 2011) was long-tossing as of mid-May. He threw his first bullpen session May 23.
--RHP Arodys Vizcaino (Tommy John surgery in March 2012) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 26. He is expected to miss the entire season.
--LHP Robert Fish (left elbow tendinitis) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 26.