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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Braves' Luis Avilan pulls hamstring; Cory Gearrin opts for Tommy John surgery

By on 4/08/2014 11:45:00 PM

The beleaguered Atlanta Braves pitching staff took another hit last night when top setup man Luis Avilan left the Mets game with a left hamstring cramp, reports David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Avilan was trying to avoid a broken bat in the seventh inning and came up grabbing his left hamstring. He attempted a warm-up pitch and stopped, walking off the field with a trainer. He was replaced by Anthony Varvaro

Another loss for the Braves' bullpen, though not unexpected, is right-handed reliever Cory Gearrin. Gearrin, who was injured in spring training, has opted for Tommy John surgery, taking him out of action for the 2014 season, also according to O'Brien. Gearrin followed the now-typical script: he came out of a game "not feeling right," was diagnosed with a sprained elbow, was placed on the disabled list, sought a second opinion, and then a third opinion, and finally decided on the procedure. Gearrin is the third Braves pitcher to undergo Tommy John this spring, following starters Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy

Due to the absence of Medlen and Beachy, the Braves started the season juggling a four-man starting rotation while they waited for Ervin Santana (signed very late in spring training) to gear up. Santana is expected to make his Braves debut today against Zack Wheeler of the Mets. 

Avilan (pictured), 24, suffered a hamstring injury on April 16, 2013, missed four games, but avoided the DL. Avilan was signed by the Braves in 2005 out of Venezuela, making his debut at age 22 in July of 2012. Last season, Avilan was outstanding: in 75 relief appearances (65 IP), Avilan posted a 1.52 ERA with 38 strikeouts and allowed one home run.

Gearrin is entering his age 28 season, is pre-arb and under team control through 2018.  In 37 appearances for the Braves in 2013, he pitched to a 3.77 ERA with 23 strikeouts and 16 walks. On July 5 he was sent to Triple-A, and shortly thereafter was shut down for the season with right shoulder tendinitis. 

These two young pitchers, are part of a bullpen which, despite the loss of Jonny Venters and Eric O'Flaherty to Tommy John surgery, shut down opponents' offense on the way to the National League East title in 2013. 

Follow Rose Ingberman on Twitter @NatsLady and read her blog Lady and the Nats


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