Braves reliever Moylan says back surgery is likely

Braves reliever Peter Moylan has continued to feel pain in his lower back despite two weeks of rest and an epidural and is resigned to the fact that surgery is likely.

Moylan was examined by an Atlanta surgeon Thursday and is headed to Los Angeles Monday to get a second opinion from renowned spine surgeon Dr. Robert Watkins.

“Once we have his opinion we’ll decide what we’re going to do, but it looks like surgery is imminent,” Moylan said.

An MRI two weeks ago revealed Moylan has a bulging disc in his lower back, but the veteran sidearmer thought he might be able to avoid surgery because he wasn’t having shooting pains down his leg like he did when suffering a similar problem 10 years ago. Then the pain spread.

“The problem is it’s gone from stiffness to leg pain again,” Moylan said. “That’s what worried a lot of the people.”

Moylan had disc surgeries in 2001 and 2003, when he was out of professional baseball, which is what prompted him to drop down to the sidearm motion and ultimately drew the attention of the Braves in the World Baseball Classic.

Moylan did not want to give a specific timetable for his recovery until he’d received a second opinion, but he is hopeful he can pitch again this season.

“I was encouraged by what I was told by surgeon yesterday,” Moylan said.

Watkins operated on former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman in 1993, who came back from disc surgery in three months to open the season. Watkins has also consulted with NHL stars Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux.

Moylan is a lynchpin of the Braves bullpen. He has been among the league leaders in appearances each of the past two seasons, 87 games in 2009 and 85 games in 2010. He was 1-0 with a 4.15 ERA in seven appearances this season.

Moylan missed almost the entire 2008 season following elbow reconstruction surgery.

“It’s killing me,” said Moylan of not being able to contribute. “But the quicker we can get it done, the quicker I can get back.”

It’s been hard to watch the seventh and eighth innings come and go without him, especially when the Braves bullpen struggles like it did during the recent West Coast swing.

“Watching on the road trip when the guys in the ‘pen had a few rough outings, you feel responsible,” Moylan said. “You feel like you want to get back out there. You want to help out your mates. It’s something that I obviously can’t pitch through, otherwise I would have. I tried everything I could to avoid where we are right now. It just has to be done.”

34 comments Add your comment


May 6th, 2011
2:05 pm

hope he gets better soon. we really need him in the pen again to take over the 7th inning


May 6th, 2011
2:06 pm


May 6th, 2011
2:10 pm

Terrible news. We need to get some middle relief help ASAP.

On the bright side, we will continue to get lots of tweets from Moylan.


May 6th, 2011
2:12 pm

All the best Petey mate. Get well soon buddy, the 7th inning sh*ts me every time without ya. Don’t wanna be a d-bag, but any chance this stems from the weight loss over the season?

Him Tudson

May 6th, 2011
2:13 pm

We’re doomed. I’m putting on my Marlins jersey, by God.

Him Tudson

May 6th, 2011
2:15 pm

Just saw Charlie Sheen in a new interview, wearing a burgundy Atlanta Braves cap. Because, Lord knows, the Braves could use the publicity.


May 6th, 2011
2:16 pm

This sucks. The 7th inning should always go to O’Flaherty now. No Linebrink. No Sherrill.

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

May 6th, 2011
2:21 pm

time to tap Gwinnett again…i have no faith in linebrink or sherrill- perhaps Teheran??


May 6th, 2011
2:22 pm

We miss you Pete and the team misses you but so what’s best for your health! If it’s surgery, like you said, get it over with and then you’ll be back on the road to recovery! Be well soon…


May 6th, 2011
2:23 pm

I bet Medlen takes Moylan’s spot in the bullpen in a month or so.

Marc D

May 6th, 2011
2:28 pm

I agree it’s awful news. I am not a huge fan or either Linebrink or Sherrill but I do understand that Fredi is in a tough spot because he cannot continue to pitch the EOF, Venters and Kimbrel every night. Participating in half the games (81) is a tremendous number of appearances for a reliever and we do not have starters who are going to eliminate the need in half of the games. We need to bring up people from AAA that we trust or trade for better options if we hope to stay in it.

It will be a nice boost to the team if Moylan comes back in August and Medlen can be back by the beginning of September.


May 6th, 2011
2:32 pm

Tough blow for sure but trading for a reliable middle reliever is a lot easier than trading for an impact hitter or starting pitcher. They’ll be fine


May 6th, 2011
2:36 pm

Whiner…he just wants to sit and get paid…

Seriously, not a good development. Hopefully it’s just shaving the disc down some and no fusion…

Gearrin is an option in the 7th…


May 6th, 2011
2:36 pm




May 6th, 2011
2:39 pm

Sheen normally acts like he was hit in the head by debris…he can have his stinkin bama hat and may he never come back anywhere near here….


May 6th, 2011
2:51 pm

@ Marc D

I don’t think the Braves’ starters fault we need solid, reliable middle relief. They are in the top 3 among NL rotations in quality starts, ERA, and opponent’s average. Maybe if we swing the bats and hit with runners in scoring position better, like we did in the double header on Wed., sherril and linebrink would be perfectly good options for the 7th, 8th, and even 9th.

Dorothy Davis

May 6th, 2011
2:58 pm

Do we miss Moylan? Yeh, but don’t give up on our “Other” side-armer…whats-his-name. Meanwhile if the Braves keep those bats working for them, we can win enough games to make it to the play-offs. It’s about OFFENSE too ya know!


May 6th, 2011
2:59 pm

Bad news for Peter and since he made 85 appearances L/Y we need someone for that dang 7th inning!

Gil In Mechanicsville

May 6th, 2011
3:00 pm

Hey, not like Martinez is getting over used out there… If O’Flarerty can continue to pitch like he has in recent days, the pen will be just fine.

Disbott 3000

May 6th, 2011
3:04 pm

Get well soon, Peter. I have recurring back issues myself and know how debilitating it can be. You can’t even tie your own shoes, much less throw a fast ball. We’ll be excited to have you back ASAP though.


May 6th, 2011
3:10 pm

Eric O’Flaherty has been doing a good job. Let him pitch the 7th inning.


May 6th, 2011
3:11 pm

Is the plan to bring up one of the young guns at the end of the season to fill out the bullpen?

urban redneck

May 6th, 2011
3:38 pm


urban redneck

May 6th, 2011
3:39 pm

almost kept a straight face for that………….


May 6th, 2011
3:39 pm

@Him Tudson, You sure that wasn’t an Alabama hat?


May 6th, 2011
3:45 pm

Seeing how it was Charlie Sheen, he was more likely sporting an @sshat.

In Gearrin and O’Flaherty we trust (for the 7th Inning, at least)


May 6th, 2011
4:20 pm

is it at least a little ironic that medlen and moylan, best friends, are now probably on the same timetable to return to the majors? crazy world. well, if the braves can make it to the 2nd half okay they sure won’t need pen help at the deadline with these two guns coming back.


May 6th, 2011
4:29 pm

Good point. The Braves will get a bump when Moylan and Medlen return and that will be like making a good trade.


May 6th, 2011
4:35 pm

We need a healthy Moylan in the bullpen. Get well soon, Pete!

Justin B

May 6th, 2011
5:10 pm

I want Adams or Gregerson from the padres for the 7th trade for one of them now

Mr. Spine

May 6th, 2011
5:37 pm

Uh Oh –more than 50% of all back surgeries are not effective in treating any pain symptoms, I know I’m one of the 50% + good luck!

Tully mars

May 6th, 2011
5:44 pm

Ozzfest: bama ripped off the logo from the braves because their elephant with an A was terrible. Oh and stop yelling


May 6th, 2011
6:25 pm

Back surgery is not the answer. Keep rehabbing it. Surgery doesn’t solve back pain issues.

Kennesaw Dave

May 6th, 2011
6:31 pm

Hope you get good news and I look forward to seeing you back in the line up.

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