Braves reliever Peter Moylan is eligible to come off the disabled list on Saturday but needs more time before he can return to action. Moylan, who has yet to even throw, didn’t want to give a specific timetable but said he’s making some progress.
Moylan received an epidural last week to treat the bulging disc in his lower back.
“It feels OK,” Moylan said. “My movement has come back really well. I can twist and walk and do that sort of stuff.”
Moylan has been doing rehabilitation exercises on his back since getting the epidural 10 days ago, but he has yet to pick up a baseball.
“There are still some issues we want to try and work through before I start trying to throw,” he said.
Moylan, 32, had two surgeries for bulging discs in 2001 and 2003, when he was out of baseball and living in his native Australia. He’s hopeful he can avoid surgery this time because he said unlike in previous cases, he hasn’t felt shooting pains down his legs.
The Braves have struggled to fill his seventh-inning role. Braves relievers allowed a total of six runs in the seventh inning in four games of their recent West Coast swing in which the starter didn’t cover the seventh inning. The Braves lost three of the four games.
They lost to the Padres in 13 innings on Monday after Scott Linebrink failed to hold a lead on the game-tying double to Nick Hundley in the seventh.
The Braves used rookie Jairo Asencio in the role Sunday in San Francisco, only to watch him give up four runs in a game the Braves had to rally to win 9-6 in 10 innings.
The Braves opted for versatility and experience over the hottest bat in Triple-A Gwinnett when they called up utility man Joe Mather for Friday’s opener against the Cardinals.
“Right-handed hitter,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “Give us a little flexibility off the bench.”
Outfielder Jose Constanza had the hot hand, batting .363, with a double, a triple, and nine RBIs in Gwinnett, as did first baseman Mauro Gomez, who was hitting .403 with three homers and 14 RBIs. But Gomez has deficiencies defensively and Constanza lacks the versatility of Mather, who was hitting .258 in Gwinnett with five doubles, a homer and four RBIs, but can play all three outfield positions, first and third.
Unlike Constanza, Mather bats right-handed, which the Braves could use off the bench to complement left-hander Eric Hinske.
Mather has played 90 games in the major leagues over the past three years, including 36 last year for the Cardinals. (He hit .233 with 11 doubles, eight home runs and 21 RBIs in his major league career, which has been married by wrist injuries.)
The Braves had been carrying an extra reliever after going 12 innings April 21 in LA. Asencio was optioned back to A Gwinnett, while rookie Cory Gearrin gets to stay on in the bullpen after an impressive three perfect innings on the trip.
“I’m really thankful,” said Gearrin, who expected a host of friends and family down from Chattanooga, Tenn. Friday night for his first game at Turner Field. “It’s obviously my dream to be here. Just getting up with the team on the road, I was thrilled.”