Venters hopes he can return to Majors this year

Venters hopes he can return to Majors this year

ATLANTA -- When Jonny Venters underwent a second Tommy John surgery, there was little reason to believe he would ever regain the dominant form he possessed in 2010 and 2011. But 15 months removed from this surgery, Venters is still holding on to the hope that he might pitch in a Major League game this year.

"Time is getting short," Venters said. "Hopefully, I don't have to throw too many live [batting practices] and I can get into a game as fast as I can."

Venters has been throwing off a mound over the past week with what he approximates to be an 80 percent effort level. While his left elbow has not been as bothersome as it was throughout most of the 2012 season and 2013 Spring Training, he is still battling some discomfort.

"It's a different soreness and a different kind of pain," Venters said. "I'm trying to feel it out, trying to get over the pain really. You just got to get past it and know it's going to be sore."

Venters produced an impressive 1.89 ERA while making a Major League-high 164 appearances for the Braves from 2010-11. The left-handed reliever's elbow began bothering him the following season and then worsened when he returned to Spring Training the following year.

Fully cognizant of all Venters has endured while returning from this surgery and the one he underwent in 2005, the Braves are showing respect by not placing any expectations on him for this season.

"He's going at his own pace," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "If we can use him the last week or two weeks, fine. If it doesn't, that is fine too. He's gone through so many setbacks. I haven't even entertained the idea of him being with us [this year]."

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