|ESPN.com: Buster Olney||[Print without images]|
|With Jonny Venters down, Atlanta has taken a big hit to the bullpen. But where's the market?|
Venters struggled through three injury-plagued minor league seasons after his first Tommy John surgery in 2005 and then finally proved healthy over entire season while making 29 starts for Triple-A Gwinnett in '09. The hard-throwing left-hander combined for 164 appearances with Atlanta over the next two seasons -- six more appearances than any other major league pitcher during that span.
"What I got to do for those two or three years was awesome and I wouldn't trade it for anything," Venters said. "It's one of those things. It's part of the job and comes with the territory."
After making 276 appearances for Atlanta from 2009-12 -- seventh most in the majors during this span -- O'Flaherty was left with a damaged elbow that progressively worsened as this season unfolded.
Another damaging aspect of the life of the reliever is not accounted for by statistics. As Medlen learned during his time as a reliever, there are numerous days when a pitcher warms up in the bullpen and never enters a game.
"It [stinks]," Medlen said. "It's like: 'Oh, he threw an inning yesterday, he's good today.' But the two days before that, I was up and I was about to go in the game. I was hot and I didn't go in the game. Then, I had to throw the next day."
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez took a lot of heat when Venters (85), Kimbrel (79) and O'Flaherty (78) all ranked in the top five for appearances made during the 2011 season that ended with an epic September collapse. This workload was heavily influenced by the reality that the Braves played 26 extra-inning games and 55 one-run games that year.
Halfway through that season while his team was in Seattle, Gonzalez spoke about the need to be more selective about when to use his top three relievers. But at the end of the day, his decisions were most heavily influenced by what would give him the best chance to win a game.
"I still subscribe to the same theory that when it's your time to go, you're going to go," Gonzalez said. "But don't go out and play on [Interstate] 75. When it's time for your arm to blow, it's going to blow. But at the same time, you don't want guys throwing 190 pitches per outing. You've still got to take care of it."
With three catchers in Tacoma, and [Mike] Zunino getting the bulk of the playing time, it appears the Mariners may have finally taken a step back from the idea that Montero will be a catcher at the big league level.2. The day when Zack Wheeler might be called up is drawing closer, writes Kristie Ackert.
“He’s going to be playing a lot of first base,” Zduriencik said.
Montero will still catch a game or two a week to give Zunino a break, but it’s no longer his primary position.
“In the long run, when you view the organization, presently and in the future, certainly in the future, it would be better for him to have more versatility,” Zduriencik said.
"You think we're going to win that game 3-0, and in five minutes, [we're down] 5-3," Soriano said Thursday. "I went to sleep at like 6 o'clock in the morning, just thinking about that game. There's nothing you can do about it. [Wednesday], we didn't do anything to win that game. [The Pirates' Francisco Liriano] is good, and he pitched a very good game. But I'm tired of losing, frustrated.
"Sometimes, you just think too much," Soriano continued. "I get frustrated when you see that happen, because I'm tired of losing. I don't want to be on a losing team and have a bad record."