ATLANTA -- When the Braves sent Kris Medlen to Triple-A Gwinnett, it appeared he would be needed to provide some consistency to the back end of Atlanta's rotation. But two weeks later, he has been brought back to the Major League level to attempt to repair a fractured bullpen.
Instead of complaining and declaring that his time had been wasted, Medlen returned ready to help strengthen a bullpen that has been weakened by Jonny Venters' struggles and the left elbow discomfort that has sidelined Eric O'Flaherty this week.
"The fact that I'm a reliever again is a little bit disheartening, I guess, because I went down to be a starter, but things happen and they make plans and they don't always work out," Medlen said. "My entire career has been based on doing whatever I can for the team to help us win."
While totaling 13 1/3 innings in three starts for Gwinnett, Medlen made all of the necessary preparations to return as a starting pitcher. But over the past two weeks, the Braves' concerns about their starting rotation have been minimized by the improvements shown by Mike Minor and Randall Delgado.
Pressed back into action on Friday night, Medlen helped the Braves snap a four-game losing streak by tossing two scoreless innings against the Orioles. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said he might continue to use Medlen for multi-inning appearances that could span the seventh and eighth innings.
"We can tinker a little bit," Gonzalez said.
When the Braves sent Medlen to Gwinnett, one of the primary concerns was that they would be weakening their bullpen. This did not prove to be a detriment until this past week when the bullpen blew two four-run leads in a span of three days.
"I went down there to do one thing and I'm back up here to do another thing," Medlen said. "So I'm not taking anything for granted and I'm happy to come back and help and do all of that."