Venters nears return after 'good mental break'

Venters nears return after 'good mental break'

Venters nears return after 'good mental break'
ATLANTA -- Jonny Venters will not be coming off the disabled list when he is eligible Friday. But after throwing a bullpen session Tuesday, the Braves reliever seemed confident that he could return early next week with the ability to turn around what has been a trying season.

"I feel like I got a good mental break and I'm starting fresh," Venters said. "My arm felt great. So we'll wait to see what they want to do from here."

Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said he expects Venters to complete one more bullpen session before possibly beginning a short Minor League rehab assignment with Triple-A Gwinnett on Friday. The left-handed veteran would likely make at least two appearances for Gwinnett before being activated.

When Venters was placed on the disabled list with a left elbow impingement on July 5, Gonzalez said he was confident his veteran reliever would return as soon as he was eligible for activation. The fact that he will need a few extra days is not a result of a physical setback.

"The All-Star break threw a damper in his scheduling," Gonzalez said. "I saw him throw the ball here the other day and he threw the ball pretty good."

While Venters threw off the bullpen mound last week, Tuesday marked the first time in nearly two full weeks that he did so while throwing both his sinker and slider with near maximum effort. His command showed signs of rust. But his elbow proved cooperative.

One year after earning his first All-Star selection and establishing himself as one of the game's top relievers, Venters has struggled mightily. Through 40 appearances, he has posted a 4.45 ERA, surrendered six home runs and allowed opponents to produce a .412 on-base percentage.

After Venters gave up a home run and allowed an inherited runner to score on a wild pitch on July 4, the Braves placed him on the disabled list. The 27-year-old pitcher believes the decision has benefited him both physically and mentally.

"I was putting a lot of stress on myself," Venters said. "It was just a good time because right there before the All-Star break my arm was barking. So it was a perfect time to take a couple days."