Braves send for Kohn, Cornely to reinforce 'pen
Right-handers join club as it begins series in Philadelphia
PHILADELPHIA -- Shortly after arriving in Durham, N.C., with their Triple-A Gwinnett teammates late Thursday evening, right-handed relievers Michael Kohn and John Cornely learned they were being promoted to the Major League level to aid the Braves' battered and fatigued bullpen.
Kohn and Cornely were placed on Atlanta's active roster before Friday night's series opener against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. To create roster spots for their two latest bullpen additions, the Braves optioned right-handed relievers Brandon Cunniff and Sugar Ray Marimon to Gwinnett.
With the additions of Kohn and Cornely, the Braves still have one vacant spot on their 40-man roster.
"We just wanted to get two fresh arms out here that can help us for [this weekend's three-game series]," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
Unfortunately, this decision directly affected Cunniff, who made three of his team-high 10 appearances over the past three days. The reality that his availability will be limited over the next few days trumped the success he has had while allowing just two runs and one hit over the nine innings he has completed since making his Major League debut on April 7.
While winning just two of their previous eight games leading into Friday, the Braves saw their bullpen allow 18 runs over 29 2/3 innings. The pressure placed on this inexperienced relief corps has been enhanced as Atlanta's starting pitchers have completed as many as six innings in just six of the season's first 15 games.
Kohn and Cornely have both made multi-inning appearances for Gwinnett this year. But Gonzalez indicated Cornely would be the more likely option to fill the long relief role that Marimon had held over the past 10 days.
Kohn has spent portions of four of the past five seasons within the Angels' bullpen. The 28-year-old allowed two runs in both of the consecutive 1 2/3-inning appearances he made for Triple-A Gwinnett on April 12 and 14. But in his past two appearances, he totaled three scoreless innings and struck out five of the nine batters he faced.
When Kohn signed a Minor League contract in December, he reminisced about the days when he and his family would travel from South Carolina to watch his beloved Braves play in Atlanta.
"Going to Spring Training was awesome and being able to put the Braves uniform on," Kohn said. "But to actually live it out now and to be on the field in a Major League game with a Braves uniform on was something I've dreamed about as a kid."
Cornely, who also grew up in South Carolina, posted a 1.04 ERA and 12 strikeouts with just one walk over 8 2/3 innings for Gwinnett this season. The 25-year-old reliever's command has been more consistent than it was during his previous four Minor League seasons.
"I haven't been throwing as hard, I've just been throwing the ball over the plate," Cornely said. "It took me a while, but eventually you figure out you can still get outs doing that too."