Eric O’Flaherty said Sunday morning his sore back is continuing to improve and he hopes with another day or two of rest he can get back into a game in Pittsburgh.
“The plan is to try to throw a game or two in Pittsburgh, so you’re not rusty at all for the playoff game,” O’Flaherty said. “But it feels a lot better today than it did two days ago.”
He woke up Friday with a stiff back and it gradually worsened throughout the day. But O’Flaherty, who has had back problems throughout his career, considers this a minor flare-up. He’s figuring if he and the Braves play it right, it won’t go beyond that.
“I’ve actually made a lot of progress, even since a couple days ago,” he said. “I was pretty lucky I haven’t had any problem with it at all this year. It’s not the best timing, but it’s not the worst either.”
O’Flaherty said he was just telling his fiancé Heather Gualco he couldn’t believe he’s pitched all season without his back flaring up. He maintains a strict regimen of stretching and exercises every day to guard against it.
He missed a little over a week in June when he had some elbow stiffness but has otherwise been healthy.
O’Flaherty is just thankful this happened with a week to go before the Braves would play in a one-game wild card playoff on Friday. He missed the playoffs in 2010 because he was dealing with complications from mononucleosis.
O’Flaherty is the Braves’ primary setup man for closer Craig Kimbrel. The left-hander hasn’t given up a run since July 15, pitching 27 consecutive scoreless outings over 24 innings since then. He is 3-0 with a 1.76 ERA in 63 appearances this season overall.