Beachy’s setback not a bad thing

sports@macon.comJune 15, 2013 

It was almost a blessing in disguise. Brandon Beachy was tender after his start for Gwinnett on Thursday, a bit more than he had been in his four previous rehab starts.

So the Atlanta Braves have scratched him from his Tuesday start against the New York Mets at Turner Field.

Whew. Thank goodness.

It never made much sense rushing Beachy back. The 2013 debut would have been three days shy of the one-year anniversary of having his ulnar collateral ligament repaired in his right pitching elbow.

There is no reason to be alarmed. We’ve grown spoiled by pitchers who have had this surgery. The success rate has been so good recently that we feel almost every pitcher will be even better after he has it done.

Beachy probably just has some inflammation, and that’s pretty normal.

“It happens. I’ve never really seen one that didn’t have, at some point, a setback,” Braves general manager Frank Wren said Friday. “His came real late in the process. But we think it’s a very minor setback. He’s a little tender, and we just want to not push it too hard.”

To the Braves’ defense, they probably scheduled Beachy so quickly to return because he had not had any setbacks. But just about every pitcher has something slow them down in the return to the big leagues after having Tommy John surgery.

“When I was at that point, I popped some scar tissue,” Atlanta pitcher Kris Medlen said. “Things happen. He’s going to keep going. You feel bad for him, but it’s part of the process. It’s something you have to battle through.”

Medlen had his Tommy John surgery on Aug. 18, 2010. His first time back on the major league mound came as a reliever for two games in late September 2011. The Braves didn’t even allow him to be back in contention for his rotation spot in spring training 2012.

It wasn’t until the Braves ran into some issues with the rotation last season that they decided Medlen might have to once again be a starting pitcher. His first start was 713 days after he had his elbow surgery. Beachy was scheduled to have his first start 362 days after his procedure.

If the Braves had a problem in the rotation, it would have made sense to just hand Beachy back his starting job. But the starting five have been outstanding, and if it ain’t broke, why try to fix it?

The setback gives the Braves more time to make the decision. They can monitor Beachy’s progress and at the same time perhaps monitor the trade market for Paul Maholm, as we suggested last week. There might be more desperation for a starter like Maholm as we get closer to the All-Star break, compared to now when teams are just starting to analyze their needs.

This will only help Beachy, too. It will slow him down and get him more prepared for his comeback. Why not have him back when he’s completely ready to be a productive member of the rotation, instead of having someone who might have even more roadblocks in his recovery?

On Thursday, before Beachy’s start, we had reporter Guy Curtright as a guest on the radio show. He saw two of Beachy’s rehab starts with Gwinnett.

“His command isn’t real good right now,” Curtright said. “He’s throwing well. The results certainly have not been bad. But I think it’s unfair for fans to really expect last year’s version of Brandon Beachy this quickly.”

Now we know why he was probably having command issues. Beachy’s arm simply needs more time to heal, and when it does, the Braves can then deal with how he gets back into the Atlanta rotation.

Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at www.foxsports1670.com. Follow Bill at twitter.com/BillShanks and e-mail him at thebillshanksshow@yahoo.com.

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