ATLANTA (CBSMiami) – As the Miami Marlins continue to build its team around a bevy of young pitching talent, the division rival Atlanta Braves are seeing pitchers spending more time in the trainer's room than on the mound.
Braves right-handed pitcher Kris Medlen was supposed to be the team's ace and opening-day starter. But on the way to the season-opener, Medlen left a game on March 9 with an injury. The injury turned out to be severe enough to require Tommy John surgery.
The surgical procedure is known in the medical community as ulnar ligament reconstruction that helps replace the ulnar collateral ligament in the elbow with a tendon from elsewhere in the body. It's named for Tommy John, the first pitcher to successfully undergo the surgery.
Medlen produced a 3.11 ERA over 197 innings pitched last year and was expected to be the team's anchor. Instead, he'll be undergoing his second Tommy John surgery since August 2010. While he came back from the first one well, a second surgery is a lot tougher to overcome.
The news wasn't much better for fellow Braves pitcher Brandon Beachy. The sometimes starting pitcher was also told by world renowned surgeon Dr. James Andrews that he too would need a second Tommy John surgery.
Beachy pitched 30 innings in the Majors last year for Atalnta. He finished with a 2-1 record and a 4.50 ERA while making five starts.
Losing Medlen and Beachy takes away 40 percent of the Braves' expected starting pitching rotation in 2014. The Braves will now turn to Mike Minor, Julio Teheran, and Ervin Santana to hold down the mound at the beginning of the season.
Coincidentally, the Braves went through the exact same situation last year when the team's top two projected setup pitchers, Johnny Vinters and Eric O'Flaherty, needed
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