ST. LOUIS — Atlanta Braves relivers Jonny Venters threw batting practice last week and the session was cut short when he experienced some soreness in his surgically repaired elbow.
The session took place on Wednesday, one day shy of the one-year anniversary of his second Tommy John surgery.
It was the first time Venters faced hitters in a year, and it’s beginning to look as if mid-June or perhaps even the All-Star break is the earliest the Braves might see the left-handed reliever in a major league game, although the team has not given any timetable.
“It was just a little sore, so they shut him down and didn’t continue,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said of the batting-practice session, which took place at the team’s spring-training headquarters in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. “It wasn’t the full slated amount that we wanted him to throw, and they backed him down a little bit.
“They didn’t seem concerned, they made it sound like it was part of the process — first time he’s faced hitters and that kind of stuff. He’s off today, and him and (reliever Jordan) Walden will meet us at the stadium and we’ll give you a better idea of what’s going on.”
Venters and Walden are expected to help a struggling bullpen regain its form. Venters established himself as one of the top setup pitchers in the game before his Tommy John Surgery last year.
Walden is on the 15-day disabled list recovering from a hamstring strain. He’s eligible to be activated Tuesday, but won’t be ready that soon.
“Walden played catch all the way up to 100 feet and he’s progressing well,” Gonzalez said. “I don’t think he’s been on the mound yet. We’ll know more when we get home.”