ATLANTA -- A.J. Minter will throw live batting practice at SunTrust Park during Tuesday’s off-day. If all goes well, the Braves' left-handed reliever will likely be activated from the injured list before Thursday’s series finale against the Cubs.
“I want to be back,” Minter said. “I want to help this team. When they lose, I lose. For me, I was obviously not rushing it because that’s probably how I got in trouble [with previous injuries], by rushing it and not listening to my body and not knowing how to say no. This year, I realized if I miss the first week of the season, it’s going to be OK. I obviously don’t want to miss more.”
The Braves took a cautious approach when Minter experienced left shoulder tightness after being involved in a minor car accident on Feb. 27. The 25-year-old southpaw faced just one batter while making his spring debut two days later and then was restricted from throwing for nearly two weeks. But he made three pain-free appearances in Minor League Spring Training games over the past week and is eager to resume being a late-inning asset in Atlanta’s bullpen.
“I feel good,” Minter said. “The ball is coming out good and the location is good. So I’m happy.”
Minter’s return will give the Braves some insurance as they deal within the uncertain durability of Arodys Vizcaíno’s right shoulder. A Minor League game accounted for the only appearance Vizcaino made over the final six days of Spring Training.
Vizcaino has said his shoulder, which forced him to miss most of last season’s second half, has not bothered him over the past couple of weeks. But the primary concern is how his shoulder might react when subjected to a normal regular season workload.
Given the uncertainty surrounding Vizcaino, Darren O'Day’s return from the injured list might have an even greater impact on the depth of Atlanta’s 'pen. O’Day has been pleased by the fact the Braves’ medical staff has continued to prioritize his well-being. But at the same time, he’s eager to return from the right forearm ailment that developed after his March 1 spring debut.
“I’m rearing to go and they want me back,” O’Day said. “I just tried to throw too soon and wasn’t ready. So we’ve just got to give it the time to get right because if I come back soon and it crops back up, then I miss even more time.”
When O’Day resumed throwing two weeks ago, he was shut down again because it was apparent he was not ready to make the next progression. The Braves are describing the ailment as a right forearm strain. But the veteran hurler said because he is dealing with a tendon injury, the recovery time will be longer than what would be necessary if it was a muscular issue.
Until O’Day resumes a regular throwing schedule, it will remain too early to project a return date. He admits he might have pushed himself too hard, too fast while anxiously attempting to make a successful return from the hamstring surgery that shelved him over last season’s final three months.
“I want to get back and be able to help,” O’Day said. “I’m doing everything I can.”
Mike Foltynewicz was smiling before and after he completed a pain-free side session before Monday’s home opener. The All-Star hurler will now test his previously sore right elbow when he attempts to throw approximately 60 pitches during Triple-A Gwinnett’s season opener Thursday.
“I’m just excited to be back around the guys,” said Foltynewicz, who was at the Braves’ Spring Training complex while his Atlanta teammates spent this past weekend playing the Phillies in Philadelphia.
If all goes well Thursday, Foltynewicz would need to make at least one additional rehab start. Thus, he is not expected to rejoin Atlanta’s rotation before April 14.