Medlen throws off mound, itching for return

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – While Mike Minor, Brandon Beachy and Rodrigo Lopez battle for the fifth starter spot in the Braves’ rotation, the man who vacated it is making steady progress toward his return.

Kris Medlen threw off the mound Tuesday for the first time since his Aug. 18 ligament-transplant elbow surgery, aka “Tommy John” surgery. He threw 15 pitches in the bullpen, at what was supposed to be about 50-percent exertion.

Braves were 13-1 in Kris Medlen's starts in 2010, before season-ending ebow surgery. (Brant Sanderlin photo/AJC)

Braves were 13-1 in Kris Medlen's starts in 2010, before season-ending ebow surgery. (Brant Sanderlin photo/AJC)

“Didn’t have the feel for [pitches], but the arm felt great,” he said. “All the stuff I’ve been doing has been working.”

You will probably not be surprised to learn that the irrepressible, always-upbeat, frequently hilarious 25-year-old with the “fauxhawk” haircut hasn’t been worn down by the tedium of rehab.

He credits teammates who’ve been through the same surgery, especially Tim Hudson and Peter Moylan, with helping him keep things in perspective and avoid worrying about the various rehab stages and aches and pains along the way.

“It’s huge,” Medlen said. “Before I even knew if I was going to need it, Huddy was like, dude, I’ve seen this a bunch of times…. They were there before I even needed it.”

And they’ve been there since he had it. Any time Medlen has a concern or wonders if this twinge or that soreness is normal, he can barely get the question out before one of the Braves’ T.J. surgery veterans — Jonny Venters is another – has the reassuring reply.

He’s a few days from the seven-month point in a rehab that usually requires 12 months, give or take a month.

“It’s been somewhat easy from the get-go,” Medlen said, referring to the mental part of dealing with surgery and rehab. “I mean, instead of having nobody there to talk to or anything, I’ve had all these guys.

“They talk about the tightness [in the post-surgery elbow]. The tightness isstill be there, but it’s still healing. They just reassure me that everything’s good.

“Some of the guys have said that even when they came back and were throwing, they still had that little bit of tightness in there. It’s just something you’ve got to deal with. It goes away with time, but like I said, it’s reassuring to have guys to talk to who’ve been through it.”

Much has been said about injuries that slowed the Braves after the All-Star break, and at the top of the list are usually the season-ending injuries to Chipper Jones and Martin Prado.

Ask around in the clubhouse, however, and players will invariably include Medlen’s elbow injury in the short list of key injuries that reduced their chances at the NL East title.

Medlen was 5-0 with a 3.86 ERA in 14 starts last season, and the Braves had a stunning 13-1 record in his starts.

Although he said his rehab’s been relatively “easy” because of the support and advice he’s received from his teammates who’ve been through, he also conceded that there have been plenty of times where it’s been brutal.

“Yeah, I mean, sitting through that two months and the playoffs and just knowing how I am – I mean, I definitely wanted to be in there,” he said. “And seeing the No. 5 spot battle [this spring] … Whoever gets the spot, Beachy, Minor or Lopez, is obviously going to be a good choice, because I know they’re all doing pretty well this spring.”

But…

“You know, I think it’s my spot,” he said, “just that they’re battling for it. It’s unfortunate that I’m not there to battle with them for it.”

The rehab plan has him on schedule to return sometime between mid-August to September, though it’s impossible to pinpoint a date at this stage. When he returns, the Braves could use him in a bullpen role if all of their starters are healthy and pitching well.

I asked Medlen about that, whether he’d be cool with any role in his return. He answered rather artfully.

“Yeah,” he said. “But I had some success as a starter, and we were winning when I pitched. I like winning.

“Of course it’d be cool to come back as a starter. I’m going to rehab as a starter. But if whoever is in the fifth spot is dealing, why change anything? Of course I’m open to whatever they want me to do.”

♣ Glavine in broadcast booth: I’m hearing that Tom Glavine is going to have a more extensive role in the Braves’ TV booth this season. I’m told that he’ll work as analyst (with Braves fixture Joe Simpson moving over from analyst work to do play-by-play) on an undetermined number of the Peachtree TV games that are being produced this year by Fox Sports South. Expect an announcement soon.

Braves lineup

  1. Prado LF
  2. Conrad 2B
  3. Chipper 3B
  4. McCann DH
  5. Hinske 1B
  6. Mather CF
  7. Ross C
  8. W.Ramirez RF
  9. D.Hernandez SS

♣ OK, we’ve got to get this posted. Not much time today to write this blog, because of the major news about Luis Salazar and the unsuccessful attempts by surgeons to save his eye. There’s a separate on that posted on the blog page.

You already probably know that Jason Heyward is out of the lineup again with back stiffness, the fifth consecutive game he’s missed. Today’s 1:05 p.m. game against the Red Sox is on ESPN, so expect the ESPN guys to talk plenty about it.

Heyward isn't playing today for Bravos, but David Ortiz (above) is in Red Sox lineup.

Heyward isn't playing today for Bravos, but David Ortiz (above) is in Red Sox lineup.

The Braves again said it’s not serious, and Heyward again took batting practice and other pregame drills.

Braves GM Frank Wren said this about the situation: “Just spring soreness. Everybody goes through it in one form or another, and one body part or another, or multiple body parts. It’s just spring soreness. We all go through it.”

One other thing: Freddie Freeman was in the initial lineup today as DH, but was scratched. No healthy issues there; Brian McCann just needed to get some at-bats against a lefty, and the Red Sox are starting lefty Jon Lester today.

Let’s close with a Nick Cave/Grinderman tune from the sublime Grinderman 2 album. You can see them do it live here.

“HEATHEN CHILD” by Grinderman

Hey little momo
Light as a rainbow,
Heavy as an asteroid
Crashed in the bathtub

Yeah, sitting in the bathtub
Hair full of her fingers
Hair full of her fingers

Yeah, sitting in the bathtub
Says, “I’m scared and lonely”
Sweet little momo says,
“I’m scared and lonely”

Here come the wolfman
Hey little momo
Saying, “hey little momo”
Saying, “hey little momo”
Sitting in the bathtub

My heathen child
She’s a heathen child
Yeah, she’s a heathen child
Yeah, she’s a real wild child

She got a little powder
She got a little gun
She got a little poison
Got a little gun
Sitting in the bathtub
Sucking her thumb

Says, “I don’t care about Buddha
[Don’t] care about Krishna
Don’t care about Allah
Don’t care about anything”
Just sitting in the bathtub,
Sucking her thumb…

Cuz she’s a heathen child
Yeah, she’s a heathen child
Now she’s a heathen child
Yeah, she’s a real wild child

1,468 comments Add your comment

PTBNL

March 16th, 2011
1:07 pm

Look forward to Med’s return

BFChris26

March 16th, 2011
1:08 pm

BFChris26

March 16th, 2011
1:09 pm

Scutaro with a HR.

Venice Jim

March 16th, 2011
1:09 pm

Mixxo

March 16th, 2011
1:10 pm

David O'Brien

March 16th, 2011
1:10 pm

Scutaro homerd on 0-1 pitch to lead off the game.

abwright

March 16th, 2011
1:11 pm

Hanson gives up a lead-off home run to Scutaro. Saux 1, Braves 0

abwright

March 16th, 2011
1:11 pm

I see Mixxo started drinking a little early today.

BFChris26

March 16th, 2011
1:11 pm

Adrian Gonzalez is up.

BFChris26

March 16th, 2011
1:12 pm

Prado is graceful in LF.

abwright

March 16th, 2011
1:13 pm

Gonzalez flies out to Prado for the second out.

Yoooooook to the plate.

LAG

March 16th, 2011
1:13 pm

Mather in CF. Interesting, to say the least.

LAG

March 16th, 2011
1:15 pm

Let me continue…

… interesting because he’s not one of the usual suspects out there (McLouth, Schafer, Ramirez).

abwright

March 16th, 2011
1:15 pm

Roller to Hernandez. High throw, but Hinske holds the bag for the third out.

BFChris26

March 16th, 2011
1:15 pm

Maybe they’re gonna see what Mather can do in CF to figure out if Conrad makes the team or not.

Corky Miller's Beer Gut

March 16th, 2011
1:15 pm

well if braves keep the offensive ball rolling this game is already over.

PTBNL

March 16th, 2011
1:16 pm

Is there a radio feed?

abwright

March 16th, 2011
1:17 pm

Prado, Conrad, and Chipper to face Lester in the bottom of the first.

BFChris26

March 16th, 2011
1:18 pm

It’s on ESPN PTBNL.

P'cola Brave

March 16th, 2011
1:18 pm

Conrad is hitting terrible. I hope they really evaluate him hard. He went through some major confidence trauma at the end of the year and has yet to impress this spring. Personally I don’t think hes over it.

Corky Miller's Beer Gut

March 16th, 2011
1:18 pm

the red sox have 16 playes that have been on the all-star team holy crap

keylargo

March 16th, 2011
1:18 pm

Clearly Hanson does not belong in the rotation and should be released for giving up that homer to a leadoff hitter. He is absolutely in the same boat as KK. Maybe we could package the two of them to the Cardinals for Albert Pujols if Wren does not agree to release them.

Brava

March 16th, 2011
1:18 pm

Marteeeeeeeeeeeeen!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mixxo

March 16th, 2011
1:18 pm

Marteeeeno with a single.

BFChris26

March 16th, 2011
1:18 pm

Marteeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeen!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

BFChris26

March 16th, 2011
1:19 pm

RAW DOG!!!!!!!!!!!!!

abwright

March 16th, 2011
1:19 pm

Prado smokes a hit to center.

Marteeeeeeen! for all you one-worders.

keylargo

March 16th, 2011
1:19 pm

OK, Brooksie got a hit. He makes the team.

PTBNL

March 16th, 2011
1:19 pm

Yeah, Thanks BFChris26. I like to hear our guys call the game though. Still would like a radio feed.

BFChris26

March 16th, 2011
1:19 pm

Aggressive base running by Prado. Going 1st to 3rd on a single 8-)

abwright

March 16th, 2011
1:20 pm

Conrad bloops a single. Prado to third on a bauble in the OF.

Chippah to the plate.

Venice Jim

March 16th, 2011
1:20 pm

Well-timed, P-cola…

BFChris26

March 16th, 2011
1:20 pm

Mixxo

March 16th, 2011
1:21 pm

Hoss with an RBI single!

PTBNL

March 16th, 2011
1:21 pm

keylargo, drank much sarcasm juice lately? lol

LAG

March 16th, 2011
1:21 pm

Nice manufacture of a run there.

Corky Miller's Beer Gut

March 16th, 2011
1:21 pm

nice chipper drives in a run with a base hit

Mixxo

March 16th, 2011
1:21 pm

You DO NOT try to pitch me inside – Hoss

abwright

March 16th, 2011
1:22 pm

Chipper gets a hit and plates Prado.

cabravesfan

March 16th, 2011
1:22 pm

Thanks for the update on one of my favorite Braves! I look forward to seeing Meds on the mound again soon :D

BravePack

March 16th, 2011
1:22 pm

3 batters 3 hits and against the Red Sox….nice.

BFChris26

March 16th, 2011
1:22 pm

Conrad with smart base running.

abwright

March 16th, 2011
1:22 pm

McCann to the plate.

McFann Ô Ô

March 16th, 2011
1:22 pm

Nicely hit, BMac…too bad that dummy had to catch it. :roll:

abwright

March 16th, 2011
1:23 pm

McCann flies out, but Conrad tags and moves to third.

Hinske to the plate.

LAG

March 16th, 2011
1:23 pm

Good wood on a lineout to RF by McCann. Conrad to 3rd on the out.

ChrisfromSacramento, Ca

March 16th, 2011
1:23 pm

Chipper haters are very quiet of late. Nice swing Mac.

alimc

March 16th, 2011
1:24 pm

i wanna watch! i wanna watch!

keylargo

March 16th, 2011
1:24 pm

McCann is looking very weak with the bat this week. Give him a fresh start at Gwinnett and maybe call him up when the roster expands in Sept.

LAG

March 16th, 2011
1:25 pm

Hinske down looking on a rather nasty front-door slider (or cutter?) by Lester.

Mixxo

March 16th, 2011
1:25 pm

Tough pitch ‘Ski.

P'cola Brave

March 16th, 2011
1:25 pm

VJ

Isn’t that how it works. You dog a guy and he burns you. Good for him for proving me wrong.

Mixxo

March 16th, 2011
1:25 pm

Gaw! This Mather is a tall drink of water.

PTBNL

March 16th, 2011
1:26 pm

“McCann to the plate” See McFann, I was hoping he would cut down on that!

abwright

March 16th, 2011
1:26 pm

Hinske strikes out. Salty almost gave away a run. He almost rolled the ball to the mound, forgetting that there are only two outs.

Mather comes to the plate.

P'cola Brave

March 16th, 2011
1:26 pm

Hard hit ball by Mather. Good to see.

BFChris26

March 16th, 2011
1:26 pm

A ball smoked Youk’s way.

tony austin

March 16th, 2011
1:27 pm

Over and under that Heyward starts the season off on the DL ????

LAG

March 16th, 2011
1:27 pm

Mather grounds out rather sharply to 3B.

David O'Brien

March 16th, 2011
1:27 pm

Braves get a run on 3 straight singles, then go F9 (McCann), K (Hinske) and 5-3 (Mather) to end 1st

abwright

March 16th, 2011
1:27 pm

Mather grounds to third. Good play by Yook to retire Mather.

Fols

March 16th, 2011
1:27 pm

Outfield depth is looking worse with every Mather at-bat.

abwright

March 16th, 2011
1:27 pm

Oh, yeah. Cut Mather!

P'cola Brave

March 16th, 2011
1:29 pm

Fols

How does it looke worse. Mather just smoked a ball to third that Youk did a good job to even get leather on.

Crime Dog

March 16th, 2011
1:29 pm

Over and under that Heyward starts the season off on the DL ????

Um. Three?

BFChris26

March 16th, 2011
1:29 pm

DOB

Who’s slated after Hanson today to pitch?

abwright

March 16th, 2011
1:29 pm

Top of the second. Hanson versus Ortiz.

keylargo

March 16th, 2011
1:30 pm

Just honing my skilz for in game regular season. :mrgreen: You may not agree with everything I say but hey, it’s Spring Training. By regular season you’ll disagree with everything.

alimc

March 16th, 2011
1:30 pm

thanks for the pbp DOB and everyone!

abwright

March 16th, 2011
1:31 pm

Ortiz strikes out. Ross drops and tags for the out.

Salty to the plate.

Arkansas Transplant

March 16th, 2011
1:32 pm

BP, you can either leave the draft to chance or you can pick the organization to start out with and they place you somewhere in the minors.

flange1

March 16th, 2011
1:32 pm

DOB<

Thanks for the update on Meds! Hope to see him back pitching soon!

Mixxo

March 16th, 2011
1:32 pm

Heyward is a non-issue with me from now on. Can’t count on him. If he plays…..great, if not…….whatevah.

Braveone

March 16th, 2011
1:32 pm

From the previous blog which had 1,276 comments, cabravesfan led the way with 103 posts. There were 146 different poster names. Here are the Top 25:

Rank Poster Frequency

1 cabravesfan 103
2 PTBNL 93
3 Arkansas Transplant 89
4 Venice Jim 52
5 nolie 51
6 David O’Brien 43
7 haggard 41
8 Ward 36
9 Bat Masterson 33
10 Mixxo 33
11 Soph 31
12 richbrave 30
13 McFann Ô Ô 29
14 Tomahawkin 29
15 Lew 28
16 keylargo 27
17 JC from DR! 26
18 tiger297 24
19 Brava 21
20 BravePack 17
21 Jarryd 17
22 Murph 17
23 DS1 16
24 Tom O’Hawke 15
25 abwright 15

PTBNL

March 16th, 2011
1:32 pm

Not to worry, keylargo. I don’t come to the blog for games during the season. I’d rather pull teeth… or something.

PTBNL

March 16th, 2011
1:33 pm

abwright

March 16th, 2011
1:33 pm

Salty flies out to Mather in CF.

abwright

March 16th, 2011
1:35 pm

RE: Braveone, March 16th, 2011, 1:32 pm

I was robbed!

I hear cabravesfan has hired a Personal Trainer. Seems to be paying off.

Meanwhile, bloop single in front of Prado in LF.

Mixxo

March 16th, 2011
1:35 pm

Reg season…..Marteen might’ve dove for that dunker.

abwright

March 16th, 2011
1:36 pm

Caylish (sp) steal second on Hanson/McCann.

MFin04

March 16th, 2011
1:36 pm

Is McCann and his .200 average back on the Red Bulls?

JC from DR!

March 16th, 2011
1:36 pm

Hanson’s delivery is awful. That kid is going to have some serious arm troubles in the future.

Fols

March 16th, 2011
1:36 pm

I haven’t seen much video…has Prado mis-played anything yet out in the field or has it been pretty smooth so far?

BFChris26

March 16th, 2011
1:37 pm

Lets go Braves!!!!!!!!!

McFann Ô Ô

March 16th, 2011
1:38 pm

keylargo Give him a fresh start at Gwinnett and maybe call him up when the roster expands in Sept.

Yeah, good idea. No way he makes the team.

:P

PTBNL

Hahahaha!

abwright

March 16th, 2011
1:38 pm

Pop out to Hernandez in shallow LF to end the inning.

Mixxo

March 16th, 2011
1:38 pm

JC from DR! –

Been saying that for years. It’s horrible and telegraphic.

alimc

March 16th, 2011
1:38 pm

i thought mccann was dh?

MFin04

March 16th, 2011
1:40 pm

How many times does David Ross get called Cody Ross in a season?

PTBNL

March 16th, 2011
1:40 pm

“telegraphic” Hmmm Must be nice to tell the batter what you are going to throw and still get them out.

keylargo

March 16th, 2011
1:40 pm

Me neither PTBNL. It is a discouraging place to be game time.

Arkansas Transplant

March 16th, 2011
1:41 pm

abwright, good thing you padded your numbers with those PEP’s. You barely made the list.

cabravesfan

March 16th, 2011
1:41 pm

Victory is MINE!!!! My work here is done… :D

Arkansas Transplant

March 16th, 2011
1:42 pm

PTBNL

March 16th, 2011
1:43 pm

Yes it is, keylargo.

LAG

March 16th, 2011
1:43 pm

Youk is pickin ‘em at third. Ross out on a hard liner.

Mixxo

March 16th, 2011
1:43 pm

keylargo –

Later!

Billy Jack's Barbecue & Shrimp Co

March 16th, 2011
1:44 pm

brutal on here today; nice to see the game on ESPN.

David O'Brien

March 16th, 2011
1:44 pm

Scheduled to follow Hanson in relief today: Linebrink, Sherrill, Moylan, O’Flaherty

Mixxo

March 16th, 2011
1:44 pm

Youk- professional MLB player.

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