Banuelos' MRI reveals bone spur on left elbow
BALTIMORE -- Braves left-handed pitcher Manny Banuelos received some encouraging news on Wednesday, when he learned the inflammation around his left elbow is not a product of structural damage.
Banuelos returned to Atlanta to undergo an MRI exam which showed a bone spur on the posterior of his left elbow. The Braves have not set a timetable for his potential return. But at the same time, they have not ruled out the possibility that he would pitch again before the end of this season.
"We don't think it is anything serious," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "We'll give him time to let [the elbow] calm down and we'll evaluate him when it's time to evaluate him."
Banuelos, who was placed on the disabled list on Tuesday, will spend the next couple weeks receiving treatment and rehabbing at the Braves' Spring Training complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. This shutdown comes around the time the Braves were going to decide what to do with the 24-year-old hurler as he neared an innings limit.
After missing the 2013 season while recovery from Tommy John surgery, Banuelos completed just 76 1/3 innings as a Yankees Minor Leaguer last year. Thus, he had been targeted to be limited to somewhere between 120-130 innings this season.
Banuelos has already totaled 104 1/3 innings while pitching for Triple-A Gwinnett and Atlanta this year. If he proves to be healthy enough to pitch again at some point this season, he could be used as a reliever or make a couple starts in September.
The Braves gained some concern as Banuelos' velocity steadily dropped as he made the first five appearances of his Major League career this month. His fastball averaged 90.3 mph during his July 2 Major League debut. But that number dropped with each subsequent appearance and stood at 87.8 mph during last Friday's start against the Cardinals.
Still, Banuelos has impressed the Braves with his poise and repertoire, which includes an impressive changeup. He produced a 2.49 ERA and allowed opponents to produce a .333 on-base percentage during the 21 2/3 innings completed for Atlanta.
"I've loved everything about him, the way he has handled himself and the way he has competed," Gonzalez said.
Mike Foltynewicz was promoted from Gwinnett to start in place of Banuelos in Wednesday's 2-0 loss to the Orioles. But during the next turn through the rotation, the Braves could opt to fill this spot with Williams Perez, who has been on the disabled list since June 27 with a bruised left foot.