Venters progresses, plays catch from 60 feet

ATLANTA -- Jonny Venters will have much more challenging hurdles to clear over the course of the next few weeks. But the Braves' left-handed reliever was encouraged on Tuesday, when he played catch for the first time since elbow discomfort forced him to exit a Grapefruit League game on March 26.

"He had a smile on his face," said manager Fredi Gonzalez. "We'll know more when he gets on the mound. I don't know when that will be. But he's moving in the right direction and he feels good."

Venters received a platelet-rich-plasma injection and was ordered to rest for four weeks after visiting with Dr. James Andrews on April 2. The hope is that this remedy will prevent Venters from feeling the elbow discomfort that plagued him during the first half of last season and again during the latter portion of this year's Spring Training.

Venters completed three sets of 25 throws from a distance of 60 feet on Tuesday. His encouragement came from the fact that he was not even able to complete this simple exercise after he rested for a month before undergoing Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery in 2005.

"It's definitely encouraging for me, just for my own peace of mind," Venters said.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.