The fact that Ramiro Pena doesn't have a guaranteed contract in 2014 may have played a role in his decision to have season-ending knee surgery.
ATLANTA — Braves infielder Ramiro Pena considered trying to play with a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder rather than have season-ending surgery, but in the end determined it was best not to put off the inevitable.
The versatile veteran had surgery Thursday on his right (throwing) shoulder, a procedure performed by Dr. James Andrews at his Florida clinic. Pena got opinions from at least two doctors before deciding Wednesday to have surgery.
The fact that he doesn’t have a guaranteed contract for next season may have played into the decision, since putting off the surgery until later could make it difficult for him to land a job in 2014.
Pena was placed on the 15-day disabled list last week after rest didn’t relieve soreness he began to feel after making a pair of diving stops in a game two weeks ago. The Braves brought up Paul Janish from Triple-A Gwinnett to fill his spot, and it’s uncertain if they will look to replace Pena now that they know he’s out for the season.
Janish is as strong or stronger defensively as Pena, but doesn’t provide nearly as much offense as the Braves have gotten this season from the former Yankees infielder.
Pena is having a career-best season, batting .278 in 97 at-bats and already with career-highs in extra-base hits (nine) and home runs (three).
“Every team is going to have injuries,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “The team that can survive those injuries is going to be there at the end. It’s an injury that (eliminates) some versatility, especially in a National League game, off the bench and pinch-hitting. But we have plenty of candidates that you feel comfortable could do that job.”
It’ll be the second surgery he’s had on his throwing shoulder, which was first repaired seven years ago when he was a minor leaguer.
HEYWARD BACK?: It took nearly half of the season, but the Braves’ Jason Heyward has started to feel right again at the plate on a more consistent basis.
So after driving in three runs with a homer and a double in Tuesday’s 4-3 win against Kansas City, the big fella didn’t want to sit Wednesday -- especially not with another off day on the schedule Thursday -- unless his right elbow stiffened after being hit by a pitch in the ninth inning Tuesday.
Ice and treatment did the trick, and Heyward was back in the lineup for the finale with the Royals. “Good to go,” he said.
Heyward was batting .216 with six homers and 16 RBIs in 53 games before Wednesday, but in his past 22 games, he hit .307 with five doubles, four homers, eight RBIs, .365 on-base percentage and a .500 slugging percentage.
Futures game picks: Triple-A Gwinnett outfielder Joey Terdoslavich was selected to play in the All-Star Futures game next month in New York, along with Braves catching prospect Christian Bethancourt, a repeat selection.
Terdoslavich, 24, hit .323 with 44 extra-base hits (18 homers), 57 RBIs and a .952 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in 78 games before Wednesday, after opening eyes during his second major league spring training.
“He can swing it,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “The year before when he went to spring training, everybody was (unimpressed). This spring training, he wore it out. And he carried it over to the season.”
Terdoslavich hit only .180 with a .515 OPS in 53 games at Gwinnett in 2012, after skipping Double-A and being moved to third base. He was demoted in June to Double-A Mississippi, moved back to first base and hit .315 with an .852 OPS the rest of the season.
The Braves had him play outfield this spring, and Terdoslavich has played mostly right field at Gwinnett.
Bethancourt, 21, has hit .263 with four homers in his second Double-A season, after struggling in an injury-plagued 2011 season. The cannon-armed Panamanian will play for the World team in the Futures game, while Terdoslavich is a first baseman on the U.S. roster.
Puig tops T.P.: Dodgers rookie phenom Yasiel Puig had seven homers and a .442 average before Tuesday in just over since being called up from Double-A, the highest average in history for a player in his first 22 days in the majors (minimum 60 at-bats). The previous best was by current Braves first-base coach Terry Pendleton, who hit .422 in his first 22 days with the Cardinals in 1984. He finished that season with a .324 average in 283 plate appearances.
BEACHY ON HIS WAY BACK: Right-hander Brandon Beachy said his elbow has improved since he complained of soreness.
Beachy on Tuesday played catch for the second time in three days and will throw a bullpen session before the end of the week. From there the Braves are likely to send him out for at least a couple of rehab starts before making a decision on activating him. He isn’t likely to return before the All-Star Game.
“You can almost bet the house we won’t have him go from throwing a couple of bullpens to throwing in a (major league) game,” manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
Beachy, who is trying to come back from Tommy John surgery last June 21, had been penciled in to start a game in the doubleheader against New York on June 18. But those plans were scrapped when the right-hander felt unusual soreness in the elbow after making his fifth rehab start.
“We’ll play it safe with him,” Gonzalez said.
Beachy’s aggressive approach to return to the lineup matched that of fellow Brave Kris Medlen, who was able to come back from Tommy John surgery in 2010.
“It’s the same thing that happened to me when I tore the scar tissue,” said Medlen, who has encouraged Beachy to remain upbeat.
Beachy was examined by team doctors. An MRI revealed no structural damage in the elbow, only some inflammation that would not require surgery.
“It’s feeling better,” Beachy said. “Just see what they have for me (next) — it’s one of those type of things.”
If Beachy is able to return, it would force the Braves to make a decision on their rotation. Each of the team’s five starters has pitched well, leaving no room for an additional arm. That would likely mean a move to the bullpen or a trade.
ODDS AND ENDS: RHP Julio Teheran is tied with teammate LHP Paul Maholm for the National League lead with eight hit batters, while RHP Kris Medlen is tied for fifth with six. The Braves are tied for second in the league with 33 hit batters ... C Brian McCann has eight homers since making his season debut May 6, tied for 10th most in the National League over that span. But he has just one homer in his last 17 games ... OF Reed Johnson is hitting .311 against left-handed pitchers since 2003, sixth best in the majors (minimum of 1,300 at-bats). Johnson pinch-hit against lefty Bruce Chen on Wednesday and drove in a run with a hit ... OF B.J. Upton has recorded 54 assists since 2007, the most among major league center fielders. Upton nearly had No. 55 on Wednesday as his throw to the plate in the first inning appeared to be in time to nail Billy Butler, but catcher Gerald Laird couldn’t hang on to the throw. “I knew it was going to be close and I tried to short-hop it and get the tag on him,” Laird said. “It just got away from me.” ... -C Gerald Laird is hitting .281 (16-for-57) in 18 starts, with four doubles, one home run, seven RBI and a .369 on-base percentage. He went 1-for-5 on Wednesday ... OF Jordan Schafer has started 26 games this year, 11 in right field, nine in center field and six in left field. Schafer has started each of the last four games, his longest streak of the season, and is hitting .375 (6-for-16) with three extra-base hits in those four games. As a starter Schafer is hitting .320 (31-for-97) with 10 extra-base hits. As a pinch-hitter or sub he is hitting .269 (7-for-26) with just one extra-base hit, a home run.
Wren's son excited to be a Brave
ATLANTA — Even under his own roof, Braves general manager Frank Wren isn’t immune to criticism for his deal making. When he traded pitcher Javier Vazquez to the Yankees after the 2009 season after Vazquez recorded a 2.87 ERA with 238 strikeouts, his son challenged the wisdom of the move.
“I was like, ‘Dang, Dad, I really liked him,’ ” Kyle Wren said.
One of Wren’s latest decisions has been met with considerably more family approval. Earlier this month, the Braves drafted Kyle, who just finished his junior season as an outfielder at Georgia Tech, in the eighth round and signed him shortly after. Wren is now in Orlando, Fla., readying himself for minicamp and then the start of his career with the Braves’ advanced rookie-league team in Danville, Va.
“I’m really looking forward to playing with a bunch of the guys that my dad trusts at developing players,” Wren said. “The Braves have been so good at developing players for so long that I feel like I’m in a really good spot to grow as a player.”
Coming out of Landmark Christian School and again last year as a draft-eligible sophomore at Tech, Wren told his father he didn’t want the Braves to draft him. Cincinnati took him in the 30th round last year.
It’s not that he didn’t want to be a Brave. Wren said his family “lives, breathes and dies by the Atlanta Braves,” and that he and his twin brother Colby (a team manager at Tech) have avidly watched games on television, sometimes coming back to campus from road trips and catching the 10 p.m., West Coast games.
“People scream nepotism and daddy ball and stuff like that,” Wren said. “It’s not that that would affect me because I’ve been dealing with stuff like that my whole life. I just didn’t want the Braves to draft me.”
His father held the same professional approach. He recused himself from discussions about his son as team scouts put the draft board together. Braves scout Brian Bridges, who has scouted Kyle since he was in high school, said Frank never asked him for information about his son unless Bridges brought him up first.
This season gave Wren more credibility as a draft prospect after he slumped as a sophomore. The left-handed leadoff hitter was named Second-Team All-ACC after finishing sixth in the league in batting average (.360) and second in triples (six) and stolen bases (28). Moving to left field from center, he also had eight assists and committed one error this season.
Before the draft, Wren’s father asked him if he would be comfortable with the Braves taking him.
Said Kyle, “I said, ‘Yeah, I’d be fine with that.’”
Still, he didn’t expect it to happen. A few other teams had indicated they would take him in the fourth, fifth or sixth round if he were available. Growing frustrated (and hungry), Kyle Wren left his apartment to stop watching the draft and get lunch. After sitting down, he got a text from a friend congratulating him and then a phone call from Bridges. Wren stayed to finish.
“That burrito I had tasted a little better after that call,” Wren said.
Bridges calls him a player with three above-average tools (speed, hitting for average, defense) who has made gains in strength and speed. He’ll play center field.
“Take his last name aside and who his dad is and his whole situation, I will tell you this beyond a shadow of a doubt -- his tools warrant him to be drafted in the ‘A’ rounds,” said Bridges, meaning the first 10 rounds.
As for Vazquez, his ERA ballooned with the Yankees, justifying the elder Wren’s decision. Starting next week, the younger Wren has a chance to improve his father’s reputation further.
Reuters News Service and McClatchey News Service contributed to this report