Jurrjens encouraged by MRI results

Jurrjens encouraged by MRI results

ATLANTA -- Jair Jurrjens grew somewhat uneasy when he learned that his recent right shoulder discomfort would necessitate an MRI exam. But the Braves remained confident that the young right-hander was going to receive the encouraging results that were provided by their doctors.

While reviewing the images of the MRI exam performed in Atlanta on Tuesday, Braves physician Dr. Xavier Duralde determined that Jurrjens' rotator cuff and labrum were structurally sound. Duralde concluded that the discomfort recently felt by the 24-year-old pitcher was a product of anterior shoulder inflammation.

Jurrjens will rest for the remainder of this week and then begin his new throwing program next week. As long as everything goes according to plan, he should be on pace to make his season debut during the first week of the regular season.

"It's a big relief," Jurrjens said. "I wasn't worried. But any time they start talking about having to have an MRI, it's not something you want to hear."

With Jurrjens set to resume his role as one of the key contributors in Atlanta's rotation, Braves general manager Frank Wren was obviously pleased to hear the results. But at the same time, he made it known that the results didn't provide any surprises.

"This is just one of those times of the year when we are very cautious," Wren said. "This was just one of those standard operating procedures that you perform when treating a player to determine what is causing the discomfort. We just don't take chances with our players."

It's too early to determine whether Jurrjens will have enough time to prepare for what would have been his first start of the Grapefruit League season. But even if he's not able to do so, he would still have time to compile the innings necessary to be ready for the start of the regular season.

"He might be a little behind the guys during the early days of camp, but he'll quickly make that time up," Wren said.

Jurrjens reported to the club's Spring Training complex last week and became concerned when he continued to feel some of the tightness and discomfort that had been present in his shoulder over the previous week.

The Braves believe the discomfort began last week after Jurrjens made an awkward throw to second base while performing pitcher-fielding drills with some other professional baseball players from his native Curacao.

"It just didn't want to go away," Jurrjens said. "It's definitely a relief to hear them say that everything should be fine."

Jurrjens has combined to go 27-20 with a 3.10 ERA in the 65 starts he has made for the Braves the past two seasons. While avoiding a sophomore slump last summer, he went 14-10 with a 2.60 ERA -- the National League's third-best record.

When Jurrjens completed 188 1/3 innings in 2008, he admittedly felt some fatigue down the stretch. He had never previously thrown more than 143 1/3 innings in a professional season.

Utilizing some of the conditioning tips provided by John Smoltz, Jurrjens didn't show any signs of fatigue while completing 215 innings this past year. He allowed two earned runs or less in 26 of his 34 starts and posted a 0.97 ERA in the 37 innings that comprised his final five starts.

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