Minor scratched Sunday with left shoulder tightness

Left-hander sent for more tests to determine severity of injury

Minor scratched Sunday with left shoulder tightness

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- After spending this winter concerned about Mike Minor's health, the Braves gained some encouragement as he impressed through the first two weeks of Spring Training. But the club's initial fear was realized on Tuesday when Minor's left shoulder began bothering him again.

Minor was scratched from Sunday's scheduled Grapefruit League season debut with left shoulder tightness, and it now appears he will likely begin a second consecutive season on the disabled list. The Braves are currently calling this a precautionary move. But given how problematic this same left shoulder proved to be last year, there is definite reason for concern.

"I don't think any of us are envisioning this is a season-ending thing, but it does throw up a red flag," Braves president of baseball operations John Hart said. "Obviously, if you miss some time, it's going to set you back and you might not be ready to start [the season]."

Given the concern that persisted throughout the winter, Minor stood as one of the most encouraging developments during this early portion of Spring Training. As he completed his bullpen sessions and threw live batting practice, coaches said he looked like he had during his successful 2013 season.

But as Minor went through these same exercises again on Tuesday, he felt some of the same shoulder discomfort that plagued him all of last year, when he posted a 4.77 ERA over 25 starts that proved agonizing from both a physical and mental perspective.

"It's early, but we don't want to go through what he went through last year," Hart said. "He doesn't want to go through what he did last year. So, I think we're taking more of a proactive approach and erring on the side of caution."

Multiple MRI exams performed last year showed no structural damage in Minor's shoulder. Hart indicated the 27-year-old pitcher will soon undergo further evaluation that could determine whether his back might be causing the lingering shoulder ailment that the team has simply diagnosed as tendinitis.

"[Minor] worked very hard this winter with all the things he was going to do," Hart said. "He came into camp in great shape and threw the ball well. There was never even a trainer's report."

The Braves revealed Minor's latest setback a couple hours after watching fifth-starter candidate Wandy Rodriguez labor through the one inning he completed in Wednesday's Grapefruit League season opener against the Mets.

Rodriguez, Eric Stults, Mike Foltynewicz and Manny Banuelos are all considered candidates to fill a spot in Atlanta's rotation. But before Minor's shoulder began bothering him again, the Braves were planning to fill just one available spot with a member of this group.

"There is some strength in numbers," Hart said. "We did a lot of things this winter to try to give ourselves some protection. We were hoping it was going to be for a fifth guy. You don't want it to be for a fourth or fifth guy."

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