ATLANTA -- The Braves altered the makeup of their bullpen on Sunday, when they recalled right-handed reliever Chris Withrow from Triple-A Gwinnett and informed John Gant that he was being sent to Gwinnett to serve as a starting pitcher.Withrow was initially unhappy when the Braves optioned him to Gwinnett with
ATLANTA -- The Braves altered the makeup of their bullpen on Sunday, when they recalled right-handed reliever Chris Withrow from Triple-A Gwinnett and informed John Gant that he was being sent to Gwinnett to serve as a starting pitcher.
Withrow was initially unhappy when the Braves optioned him to Gwinnett with two weeks remaining in Spring Training. But the veteran reliever has since come to realize the move was made in his best interest as he needed a little additional time to make the necessary preparations to return to the Majors for the first time since May 2014.
"It's a relief to be here," Withrow said. "This is just one of the small steps I want to take because I want to stay. But it is a relief to be here, overcoming some obstacles that were put in my way. To get back here feels nice."
Gant established himself as the pitcher with the funky delivery who earned an unexpected spot on the Braves' Opening Day roster. But even before he surrendered six hits and four earned runs in the three innings he completed for Atlanta, he was considered the most likely reliever to be sent down when the Braves bring Jhoulys Chacin up from Gwinnett to join their rotation on Tuesday -- the first day they need a fifth starter.
The Braves will now need to make another move to create a spot on their 25-man roster for Chacin. The most likely candidates to be affected are Alexi Ogando and Jose Ramirez, who could be aided by the fact that he is out of options.
When the Braves acquired Withrow from the Dodgers in May, the 27-year-old was nearly a year removed from Tommy John elbow surgery and approximately six months removed from back surgery that was necessitated by a herniated disc. He spent last season's final four months rehabbing at Atlanta's Spring Training facility in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
Instead of rushing Withrow back to the Majors, the Braves sent him to Minor League camp on March 14 to allow him to prepare for the season and complete his rehab in a less stressful environment.
"They wanted to make sure I stayed healthy and that was my goal, also," Withrow said. "I want to stay healthy as long as I can and to prove I can stay healthy."
If Withrow remains healthy, he could quickly become a key cog in Atlanta's bullpen. The hard-throwing right-hander posted a 2.73 ERA and limited opponents to a .157 batting average over the 46 career appearances he made for Los Angeles before undergoing Tommy John surgery.
Withrow learned of his promotion late Saturday night and got just a couple hours of sleep before he arrived at Turner Field before Sunday's series finale against the Cardinals. He issued two walks, hit a batter and surrendered Greg Garcia's game-tying single after entering at the beginning of the sixth inning.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com.