Atlanta Braves struggling closer Mark Wohlers was recalled from the minor leagues Friday and placed on the 15-day disabled list with an "inability to pitch," the team announced.
Wohlers,Atlanta's saves leader in each of the last three seasons, is slated to be recalled from Triple-A Richmond of the International League for the purpose of putting him on the DL so he can undergo medical rehabilitation. He will stay in Atlanta for two or three days before reporting back to Richmond for a rehabilitation assignment.
It is believed part of Wohlers' rehab will consist of meeting with a psychologist in order to regain the inexplicable loss of command on his pitches that now threatens his career.
He chose to take a second trip to the minor leagues to try and regain the control that made him one of the most dominant closers of the previous three years. As a five-year veteran, Wohlers had to grant the Braves his permission to go to the minors.
Wohlers has not pitched for the Braves since August 8th. Since returning to Richmond, Wohlers has allowed five hits, 14 walks and six earned runs in just 4 2/3 innings.
He also was awful after his first return from Richmond in late June. In eight appearances covering 4 1/3 innings, he had an ERA of 27.00, yielding 13 runs and 15 walks with one strikeout for the National League East division leaders.
Wohlers did not appear in any game from June 12th-19th and took his first stint in the minors after suffering control problems reminiscent of Steve Blass, a 1971 World Series hero for the Pittsburgh Pirates that inexplicably lost his ability to throw strikes. Since that time, Wohlers' mother took ill and his wife filed for divorce.
During his first stay in Triple-A, Wohlers was 0-2 with a 21.60 ERA, allowing 16 earned runs, 15 hits and 12 walks in just 6 2/3 innings.
With the Braves this season, Wohlers is 0-1 with eight saves in as many chances, a hefty 10.18 ERA and seven wild pitches in 26 gmes. In 20 1/3 innings, he has walked 33 and allowed 18 hits with 22 strikeouts.
For the most part, Atlanta has been unaffected by Wohlers' absence. It owns the league's best mark at 83-44 and leads the second-place New York Mets by 12 1/2 games. Right-hander Kerry Ligtenberg is 20 of 22 in save chance.
Wohlers assumed the closer role in 1995 and saved a pair of games as Atlanta won the World Series that year. But he is best remembered for surrendering a tying three-run homer to the New York Yankees' Jim Leyritz in Game Four of the 1996 World Series. The Braves went on to lose the series in six games.
The 28-year-old Wohlers, an eighth-round pick of the Braves in 1988, has 112 saves over eight major-league seasons, including a career-high 39 in 1996, when he was named to the NL All-Star team.
© 1998 SportsLine USA, Inc. All rights reserved