Washington – The Braves have gone two days without hearing back from Major League Baseball with a decision on Jonny Venters’ appeal of his four-game suspension.
The Braves had hoped to know by Wednesday, so they pitched him two innings on Tuesday night the day of his hearing.
Manager Bobby Cox pitched Venters again to one more hitter on Wednesday night, but the Braves still didn’t find out Thursday. And Venters was unavailable to pitch Thursday because of the recent workload.
Now it looks like Venters, who was suspended for hitting Prince Fielder with a pitch on July 17, will likely miss at least part of the Reds series this weekend in Cincinnati. That’s no small thing for a Braves bullpen that looks thin right now.
Left-hander Eric O’Flaherty is on the disabled list recovering from a viral infection. He made 40 throws playing catch Wednesday, but Cox said he will need a rehabilitation assignment to build back his stamina.
The Braves have seemingly lost confidence in Kenshin Kawakami, who has pitched only once since he was moved to the bullpen a month ago. And by virtue of an agreement in his contract, the Braves can’t send him to the minors.
Help could be coming from the trade market this weekend, but Braves general manager said it wasn’t a priority.
“I think we’re not going to turn away from a bullpen arm,” Wren said. “Is it a priority? I don’t think it’s a priority. But you try to build as much depth as you can because there’s still a long two months left.”
One potential trade partner is Toronto, which is shopping relievers Kevin Gregg, Jason Frascor and Scott Downs. The Blue Jays had a scout at Wednesday’s Braves-Nationals game.