Vizcaino near return after throwing pain-free

Vizcaino near return after throwing pain-free

ATLANTA -- As Arodys Vizcaino completed a pain-free bullpen session Friday afternoon at SunTrust Park, he proved he had made the progress the Braves envisioned when they made the precautionary decision to place him on the disabled list with a strained right index finger.

After Vizcaino tests his finger during another bullpen session before Sunday's game against the D-backs, the Braves will determine whether he needs to make at least one Minor League rehab assignment before rejoining Atlanta's bullpen. The 26-year-old right-hander has not made an appearance since completing a scoreless inning in the Braves' July 2 win against the A's.

"We're going to see where he is," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "He got into [Friday's bullpen] pretty good and we want him to get into it pretty good again [Sunday]. If everything goes well, we'll kind of adjust or see. But once he got going, everything was OK."

Vizcaino began feeling some discomfort in his finger near the end of June. The Braves opted to place him on the disabled list to guard against the fear that the ailment could evolve into a pulley tendon injury. Former Braves pitchers John Thomson and Horacio Ramirez were sidelined for multiple months with this injury.

Vizcaino has produced a 2.38 ERA and limited opponents to a .198 batting average through 34 innings this year. He began the 2016 season as Atlanta's closer, but has served as Jim Johnson's primary setup man for more than a calendar year.

Johnson worked a perfect ninth and notched his 20th save in Friday night's win over the D-backs. But as he has produced a 5.31 ERA since May 23 and blown five of 16 save opportunities in that time, the veteran hurler has at least forced the Braves to contemplate returning the closer's job to Vizcaino.

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.