ATLANTA -- Jonny Venters appeared in more than half of the Braves' games during the 2010-11 seasons, earning the nickname "Everyday Jonny." Now the left-handed reliever can simply hope another day will come when he is able to pitch again.
Venters underwent Tommy John surgery to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament on Thursday afternoon in Gulf Breeze, Fla. This marked the second time in eight years that Dr. James Andrews performed the surgical procedure on the Braves reliever.
"We thought this was a possibility, but we hoped it wouldn't be the case," Braves general manager Frank Wren said. "When they went in for the surgery this morning, they were not sure what they were going to find. When they got in there and found the ligament was torn, they had to redo the surgery."
Andrews gave Venters a platelet-rich-plasma injection on April 2, with the hope it would repair damaged tissue and allow the 28-year-old reliever a chance to pitch again this season. Venters rested his arm for four weeks, but his optimism turned to discouragement when he felt immediate left elbow discomfort while throwing off a mound for the first time in more than a month last week in San Francisco.
Venters now faces the challenge of returning from a second Tommy John surgery. Al Reyes, Doug Brocail and Jason Isringhausen are among the pitchers who have defied the odds and returned to the Majors after undergoing this procedure multiple times.
"We've seen some guys who have done better the second time than they did the first time," Wren said. "Every single player is individual when it comes to this. Everybody is different. It's hard to compare to anybody else. We wish the best for Jonny. We'll be there to support him."
Venters will undergo the same 12-month rehab process assigned to pitchers after undergoing the procedure the first time.
Fortunately for Venters, he suffered this injury after gaining a $1.625 million salary as a first-time arbitration-eligible player this year. There is certainly reason to believe the Braves will non-tender him at the end of the season. But they could then sign him to a Minor League contract like they did with Peter Moylan after he came back from shoulder surgery in 2012.
Venters experienced some discomfort during the final two weeks of Spring Training, and the Braves shut him down for 10 days after he issued four walks in one inning against the Marlins on March 13. He was forced to exit his March 26 Grapefruit League appearance against the Tigers because of further discomfort.
Venters was on the disabled list last July with a left elbow impingement, and he encountered multiple setbacks after undergoing his first Tommy John surgery in 2005. His first healthy professional season came in '09, when he combined to make 29 starts with Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett.
Despite spending the first two weeks of the 2010 season in the Minors, Venters still made 79 appearances for Atlanta.
Venters made 230 appearances over the course of the past three seasons, with 164 of those coming in 2010 and '11.
Entering this year, the only pitcher with more appearances since the start of the 2010 season was Cincinnati's Sean Marshall (231).
The heavy workload appeared to take a toll on Venters, as he compiled a 4.45 ERA and surrendered six home runs in his first 40 appearances last year. In the 164 appearances Venters made during the previous two seasons, he posted a 1.59 ERA, surrendered three home runs and held opponents to a .300 on-base percentage.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less