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Ayala back in bullpen for first time since late April

Ayala back in bullpen for first time since late April

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Ayala back in bullpen for first time since late April

PHILADELPHIA -- The Braves do not know what to expect from Luis Ayala. But before the July 31 Trade Deadline passes, they are going to give Ayala a chance to prove he is capable of serving as a reliable veteran presence in their bullpen.

Ayala gained a sense of relief on Thursday night when the Braves informed him he was being activated from a disabled list stint that began when he was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder in late April. The 38-year-old reliever said his problems were compounded by a bacterial infection that formed near his stomach and caused him to lose eight pounds.

"Finally I can say I'm healthy and get back to a routine where I can pitch every time," Ayala said. "It took a long time, but I was doing my best."

Ayala was back in Atlanta's bullpen on Friday night for the first time since he began battling anxiety after an April 24 appearance at Coors Field.

The Braves would like to add bullpen depth by acquiring at least one veteran before the end of the month. But there could be less urgency to add two relievers if Ayala pitches like he did while posting a 2.40 ERA in 118 combined appearances with the Yankees and Orioles the past two seasons.

Over the past two months, the Braves were concerned about Ayala's decreased arm strength. But the reliever's fastball improved as he was pitching for Triple-A Gwinnett the past two weeks.

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

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