A day after Jonny Venters left a game with an injured pitching elbow, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said he hopes for the best, but might not have an update until Thursday.
Venters was preliminarily diagnosed with a sprained left elbow after leaving Tuesday’s game against Detroit in the middle of an inning while facing a batter.
Gonzalez said Venters, who had ligament-transplant elbow surgery six years ago, was to be examined by Braves team doctor Joe Chandler at training camp Wednesday while the team played the Nationals in Viera. Following that exam, Venters might require further tests.
“Let’s just wait to see,” Gonzalez said. “I would think we would find out if not (Wednesday) afternoon, or definitely know something by (Thursday). … I’ve got my fingers crossed that it’s nothing major. See if maybe the worst-case scenario maybe you shut him down for 15 days or so and let it calm down, then go at it again.”
Unfortunately, that would probably be close to a best-case scenario. The worst would be an injury requiring surgery.
The left-hander had a stint on the disabled list in July 2012 for elbow inflammation during his career-worst season. He has 230 relief appearances in three major league seasons, including a majors-leading 85 in 2011.
Laird progresses: He did more standing to watch balls sail out of the park than Gerald Laird and the Braves would’ve preferred, but Wednesday’s game against Washington otherwise encouraging for the veteran catcher.
Laird hit a home run and threw out one of two base-stealers in 5 1/2 innings of work in the 11-2 loss, and he had no problems with the previously strained left calf that kept him out of more than half of the Grapefruit League games.
“Feeling really good,” said Laird, who flied out twice to center before homering in the sixth inning, his first homer in 25 at-bats this spring. “I barreled some balls today. Starting to feel good at the right time.”
It was only the 12th game of the spring for Laird and marked the first time he played consecutive games since March 12-13. The Braves were particularly cautious in bringing him back from the calf injury because with Brian McCann starting the season on the disabled list he’ll be their only experienced major league catcher.
Catcher Evan Gattis, who found out Wednesday he made the opening-day roster, moved from left field to catch the last three innings. Gattis hit his sixth homer of the spring to lead off the sixth inning against left-hander Ross Detwiler, and Laird followed by taking Detwiler deep to give the catchers back-to-back homers.
Laird, 33, has 10 years of major league experience and said he looks forward to working with Gattis.
“I’m happy for him,” said Laird, who was in the clubhouse Wednesday morning when Gattis was summoned to the manager’s office and told he made the club. “He’s worked his tail off. He’s come a long way. The kid’s great. Real upbeat. … It’s a fun time for some older guys to see what it means for a guy to be able to step in and make the ballclub.”
Rough day for Rodriguez: Triple-A left-hander Daniel Rodriguez pitched two-plus innings for the Braves and allowed eight runs, five walks and four home runs, including two homers by Wilson Ramos in the third and fourth innings.
Rodriguez faced seven batters in the fifth inning and failed to retire any of them, giving up three homers, three walks and a double in the inning before lefty Luis Avilan came in and ended the carnage by inducing a double-play grounder and a fly ball from the next two batters.
Besides Ramos, Tyler Moore also homered off Rodriguez, and the first of three Ryan Zimmerman homers was against Rodriguez (the others were off Cristhian Martinez and Dusty Hughes).
Etc.: Braves infielder Ramiro Pena went 3-for-3 to raise his average to .306. He’s 6-for-10 with three walks and a home run in his past five games. … Paul Maholm will start against an Astros split-squad Thursday in the Braves’ last game before they leave Florida. … Eric O’Flaherty allowed one hit and struck out Zimmerman in the first inning. After straining a groin and missing 2 1/2 weeks, he has pitched five scoreless innings and allowed five hits and one walk with four strikeouts.