No one likes excuses, but you can't ignore the injuries the Atlanta Braves have had this year. The…
Braves expand roster to 31
Kyle Davies was activated off the 60-day disabled list. He went down May 15th with a groin injury and had to have major surgery on his groin muscle. Davies' injury was significant, and his loss was truly a blow to the rotation. The Braves hoped Davies would be the third or fourth starter in the rotation, right behind John Smoltz and Tim Hudson. Instead, his absence started the summer roller-coaster of changes in the rotation.
Davies started his rehab assignment on August 1st in Mississippi and pitched four games in Double-A. The Braves increased his innings each time out, and his last game was his best. On August 16th, Davies allowed two earned runs in seven innings of work, along with three walks and three strikeouts in a win over Tennessee.
Then Davies was promoted to AAA Richmond, where he made two final warm-ups for his return. The right-hander allowed only one earned run in 15 innings of work in the two games, with three walks and eight strikeouts. Davies will now start one of the scheduled doubleheader games against the Phillies on Saturday.
Brian Jordan was also activated from the 60-day DL. Jordan missed 63 games after breaking his right clavicle on June 17th. He played in four games this week rehabbing with Richmond and had a home run. Jordan will be an additional hitter off the bench in the final month of the season. He had hit only .214 with 3 home runs and 10 RBI in his 40 games with Atlanta before his injury.
Willy Aybar was also activated late Thursday night. Aybar, who was acquired July 28th from the Dodgers in the Wilson Betemit/Danys Baez trade, had a sprained left middle finger with a non-displaced chip fracture. Aybar played in three games with Richmond this week to prepare for his promotion. He'll join Tony Pena, Jr., Martin Prado, and Pete Orr as infield reserves on the Atlanta roster.
Scott Thorman is back in the big leagues. He was demoted to Richmond on August 15th when the club needed an extra pitcher. Thorman played in 40 games with the Braves after being promoted from Richmond back in June. He hit .255 with 4 home runs and 11 RBI in 102 at bats. The last two weeks in Richmond Thorman struggled a bit, hitting .173 with 4 RBI in 14 games. Thorman will get more time in left field this month in Atlanta.
Brayan Pena is back in the big leagues. The switch-hitting catcher played 11 games with Atlanta earlier in the season when Brian McCann spent two weeks on the disabled list. Pena hit .321 with a home run and 3 RBI. For Richmond this season, Pena hit .302 with 1 home run and 33 RBI in 325 at bats. Pena will be the third catcher behind McCann and Todd Pratt.
And finally, Joey Devine will return to the Atlanta roster. Devine had a spectacular spring training (2.25 ERA in 9 games, 3 earned runs in 12 innings pitched, 4 walks, 20 strikeouts), but did not make the Braves' Opening Day roster. But an injury the first week of the season to Blaine Boyer got Devine back on the Atlanta team. Devine pitched in two games and struggled, allowing seven runs on five hits in one inning of work.
Devine was sent back to Triple-A Richmond, but after only one game he was placed on the disabled list with back trouble. The right-hander then worked with Braves' coaches in Orlando to improve his mechanics and hopefully put less strain on his back. Devine then returned to action in Mississippi last month and was outstanding. In six games, Devine was 2-0 with a 0.82 ERA. He allowed only two hits in 11 innings, with one earned run, four walks, and 20 strikeouts.
The Braves will use Devine to help setup closer Bob Wickman.
Anthony Lerew could be another call-up next week after Richmond's regular season is over.
Bill Shanks is the author of Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team, a look at the Braves' traditional front office philosophies. He can also be heard regularly on the Braves' Radio Network. Email Bill at email@example.com.
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