Atlanta Braves pitcher Mike Minor will return to the rotation Friday night when the San Francisco Giants come to town. (Reuters)
MIAMI — David Hale made the decision as hard as he could, but ultimately when Mike Minor was ready to return to the Braves rotation, the spot was his. He’s ready, and it is.
The Braves announced Tuesday before the series opener against the Miami Marlins that Minor will return to the Braves rotation Friday at Turner Field against the Giants.
Hale was moved to the bullpen, where he’ll be available for the next few days in Miami, and if everything goes as expected, barring injuries, he’s expected to stay there.
Minor has completed five minor league rehabilitation starts, going 2-2 with a 4.43 ERA, plus the exhibition game against the Braves’ minor league “Future Stars.” He made six starts in all, building his arm strength back up after a bout with shoulder tendinitis, which is what he would normally have done in spring training.
Minor was unable to throw in January after undergoing urethra surgery on Dec. 31, and when he cranked up in early February he felt some shoulder soreness. It hasn’t bothered him through this rehab process, though. Minor was up to 81 pitches in his final outing in Pensacola, then threw another 15 pitches or so in a side session afterward. Minor gave up four home runs in six innings that night, but with a stiff breeze blowing out, by all accounts.
Minor threw a bullpen session Tuesday in Miami and confirmed he was feeling good before Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez made the announcement and met with Hale.
“(Hale) knew the circumstances going in, but he is a guy that is versatile; he can do the bullpen stuff,” Gonzalez said. “And Mike Minor is a guy that was outstanding for us for the last two and a half years, so it was just a matter of time, whenever those guys got healthy.”
Hale held up his end, going 1-0 with a 2.31 ERA over four starts. He pitched eight innings allowing only one run his last time out Saturday against the Reds, allowing only two hits — and none after the first inning.
“He did a terrific job — unbelievable job to step in for four starts for the month of April,” Gonzalez said. “We still have three more games to play. A lot of weird stuff can happen. He could be right back in that rotation.”
The Braves don’t have to make a corresponding roster move until Friday, but barring an injury, Hale is expected to remain in the Braves bullpen, and Gus Schlosser is the likely odd man out to be sent to Triple-A Gwinnett. Hale could give the Braves a multi-inning long reliever in the mold of Kris Medlen in 2010 and 2012, with the ability to spot start as needed.