ST. LOUIS -- After broadcasting Thursday night's game against the Cardinals for MLB Network, John Smoltz returned to the Braves' team hotel and gave manager Fredi Gonzalez further reason to hope Brandon Beachy is simply experiencing one of the many pitfalls a pitcher can experience when returning from Tommy John surgery.
After missing all of the 2000 season while recovering from this surgical procedure, Smoltz returned to Atlanta's rotation on May 17, 2001, and made five starts before arm discomfort forced him to spend the next six weeks on the disabled list. He ended up going to the bullpen in August to begin what proved to be a three-plus-season stint as Atlanta's closer.
In similar fashion, Beachy has been placed on the DL after making five starts since returning from this elbow surgery that requires at least one full year of rehab. During Tuesday night's start against the Mets, Beachy experienced a drop in velocity and began experiencing discomfort that he likened to what he felt when he was shut down in June, a few days before making his scheduled return from the surgical procedure.
The Braves have labeled Beachy's ailment right elbow inflammation, the same one he battled two months ago. Beachy will gain a better understanding of his situation when he visits Dr. James Andrews on Monday.
"[Smoltz] said some people tell you it's 12 months, but you don't feel really, really good until the 14th or 15th month," Gonzalez said. "Everybody is different. ... It's always good when you hear Smoltzie say it's normal."
Beachy has said he is confident that he will pitch again this season, and the Braves seem to genuinely share this sentiment.
Beachy created some reason for concern when none of the final three fastballs he threw on Tuesday night registered over 85 mph. But the Braves have been encouraged by the fact that he has not described discomfort that would lead them to believe he is dealing with structural damage in his elbow.
"I'm not really overly concerned about what he is telling us," Gonzalez said.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.