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Pneumonia likely to limit Foltynewicz to bullpen

Braves' young hurler regaining stamina, may not have enough to start

ATLANTA -- Mike Foltynewicz has steadily regained most of the strength and stamina he lost while battling pneumonia earlier this month. But it does not look like he will have enough time to prepare to make another start this season.

If Foltynewicz continues to make progress, he could join the Braves' bullpen early next week and then be utilized as a reliever over the remainder of the season.

"I'm thinking when we go on the road trip on Monday, we can get him to pitch at least an inning for us," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "Fingers crossed, as long as everything goes well. At some point during that road trip, I think he'll be available."

When Foltynewicz was sidelined by the illness two weeks ago, he had produced a 6.47 ERA over the six starts he made since being recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett on July 30. Still, he was showing enough improvement with his command and offspeed pitches that the Braves were keeping open the possibility that his power repertoire might prove as effective in the rotation as it would in the bullpen.

Based simply on his stuff and demeanor, it is easy to peg Foltynewicz as being best suited to serve as a late-inning reliever. But because they were not in a postseason race, the Braves were going to take advantage of the chance to continue evaluating him as a starter over the remainder of this season.

Unfortunately, this plan was zapped when Foltynewicz incurred the illness that forced him to remain sedentary for nearly a week. When he returned to Turner Field last week, the 23-year-old hurler admitted he was still feeling gassed after walking a flight of stairs.

Gonzalez has not ruled out the possibility that Foltynewicz could complete three or four innings as a starter at some point before the end of this season. But it now appears the Braves will not have a chance to truly evaluate the hard-throwing hurler as a potential starter again until next year's Spring Training.

"I think it would have been unfair [to try to get him a start this year]," Gonzalez said. "He's missed so much time. We'll see. Maybe we'll start him and he can give us three innings. But right now, we're just hoping he can give us a few innings out of the bullpen."

Mark Bowman is a reporter for
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