LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- As left-hander Luiz Gohara was completing his final preparations leading up to what would have been his first start of the Grapefruit League season, he sustained yet another injury, one that creates doubt about when he might be ready to join the rotation.Gohara sprained his
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- As left-hander Luiz Gohara was completing his final preparations leading up to what would have been his first start of the Grapefruit League season, he sustained yet another injury, one that creates doubt about when he might be ready to join the rotation.
Gohara sprained his left ankle as he stepped on the first-base bag while completing pitchers' fielding drills before Friday night's game against the Yankees at ESPN's Wide World of Sports complex. X-rays were negative; he was placed in a walking boot and will be re-evaluated in two weeks.
"It's not a high ankle sprain, it's just an ankle sprain, which they think is good," manager Brian Snitker said. "Them high ones always seem to take a lot longer. It's a sprain. We'll see how his body feels and go from there."
The Braves were hopeful that Gohara would go through his normal Spring Training preparations and be deemed ready by at least April 10, when the club would first need five pitchers in their rotation.
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It now looks as though the Braves will need to alter their plans for the final rotation spots during the early portion of the regular season. Sean Newcomb stands as a heavy favorite to secure at least one of the two spots. Scott Kazmir and Matt Wisler appear to be the top candidates for the final spot.
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Gohara made a strong impression as he completed at least six innings in each of his final four starts after he got his first call to the Majors in September. The 21-year-old has drawn complimentary comparisons with Carsten Sabathia, but now that he has sustained two injuries within the first month of Spring Training, there will be greater concern about his long-term durability.
With Gohara sidelined, Wisler will start Sunday's game against the Tigers. Veteran right-hander Brandon McCarthy had been slated to start that game in Lakeland but will now complete a few innings against Minor Leaguers on one of the back fields at the Braves' Spring Training complex.
When Kazmir was acquired as part of the multiplayer trade that sent Matt Kemp to the Dodgers in December, he appeared to be just a fiscal piece of the financially motivated deal. But through his first three Grapefruit League starts, the veteran lefty hasn't been hindered by the hip injury that led to him missing the entire 2017 season.
Wisler's days as a highly touted prospect seemed to be eons away as he became somewhat of a forgotten asset last season, but he has regained confidence in his slider and has managed to keep opponents scoreless through his first seven Grapefruit League innings.
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.