Minor has shoulder inflammation, no structural damage

Left-hander receives anti-inflammatory injection, prescribed two weeks of rest

Minor has shoulder inflammation, no structural damage

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- As Mike Minor appears destined to remain out of Atlanta's rotation until at least late April because of all-too-familiar left shoulder discomfort, the Braves are maintaining hope that his current ailment is different than the one that plagued him throughout last year's disappointing season.

The Braves gained some encouraging news when Dr. James Andrews did not find any structural damage when he examined Minor's shoulder on Monday. Andrews provided an anti-inflammatory injection and prescribed two weeks of rest after determining Minor's discomfort was a product of inflammation around the rotator cuff.

While this determination paralleled previous diagnosis -- including one made last week by team physician Dr. Xavier Duralde -- Andrews also suggested that Minor should focus on strengthening his shoulder through a variety of stretching exercises.

"[Dr. Andrews] said there is not really anything wrong structurally," Minor said. "It's more of a, 'Let's see if this works.' Hopefully, the stretching and shoulder exercises really help. I'll knock those out every day for the next two weeks."

There is certainly some reason to be skeptical about the possibility that a few weeks of rest will prove to be the solution. After dealing with left shoulder discomfort for most of 2014, Minor had three months of rest during the offseason and then had to be shut down after throwing his second live batting-practice session of the year last week.

But after determining the MRI exam that was performed on Monday was as clean as the two Minor underwent last year, Andrews provided a new suggestion by advising the 27-year-old pitcher to avoid any upper-body workouts over the course of the next two weeks.

Minor will instead attempt to keep his shoulder strong via stretching exercises aimed at loosening both his back and shoulder.

"I've been tight my whole life," Minor said. "But I guess maybe the innings are catching up and the shoulder doesn't want to react the way it used to."

If Minor's shoulder reacts in a favorable manner, he will likely be cleared to resume his throwing program during the final two weeks of Spring Training. While this scenario would not provide him enough time to be ready for the start of the season, Minor might progress to the point where he is cleared to begin building innings in games during the early part of April.

This would put Minor on a schedule similar to the one he experienced last year, when his left shoulder shut him down during the first week of Spring Training and prevented him from joining Atlanta's rotation until May. He then proceeded to post a 4.77 ERA while battling lingering discomfort over 25 starts.

"I don't want to put any timetable on this because we're not really sure," Braves president of baseball operations John Hart said. "We're kind of managing this. … We'll be cautious with him."

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