Moylan to be player-coach for Braves' Rookie affiliate

Moylan to be player-coach for Braves' Rookie affiliate

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- When Braves assistant director of player development Jonathan Schuerholz called last week and said, "I want to run something by you," the always-witty Peter Moylan initially wondered if his former Minor League teammate wanted him to become a part of the grounds crew.

But it did not take Moylan long to realize Schuerholz was providing an offer that seemed much more practical than any of the others he had thought about while wondering how he might prove that he can indeed return from his latest surgery -- a second Tommy John elbow procedure that was performed on March 21, 2014.

After talking to his wife and agent, Moylan confirmed that he would be crazy not to accept the Braves' offer to spend this season as a player-coach for Rookie Level Danville and then potentially come to big league camp as one of Atlanta's non-roster invitees next year.

"It's going to be really fun," Moylan said. "I'm already having way too much fun. I couldn't have written up a better chance for me."

Moylan arrived in Minor league camp this week weighing 212 pounds -- 40 pounds lighter than he was when he came to big league camp with the Astros last year -- and exuding that same vibrant personality that made him such a beloved figure among fans and teammates during his tenure as a Braves reliever (2006-2012).

Instead of risking injury or embarrassment by rushing his recovery in an attempt to prove he could pitch this year, Moylan will now have a chance to patiently prepare for what should be a rather stress-free opportunity with an organization that has always considered him to be a part of the family.

"This is just for him to have a chance to have a year to find if this fits for him and fits for us," Braves assistant general manager John Coppolella said. "He's a great guy who has been a big part of us. We felt it would be a great fit."

Given that Danville's season does not begin until June, Moylan will spend the next few months strengthening his body to pitch and his mind to serve as a mentor for the young pitchers who will look at him as both a teammate and coach this year.

"If I signed with a team, I'm obviously going to try to prove myself immediately," Moylan said. "I risk getting hurt again. I risk having horrible numbers. Then all of a sudden, they could say, 'He's not doing anything, let's get rid of him' and my career might be over. This way, I can take my time. The Braves are going to be patient and I'm going to be patient, which is not my strong point. When it's right, it will be right."

Moylan has long-term aspirations to coach, but for now he will maintain his dream to return to the Majors with the club that still held a place in his heart even as he spent the 2013 season with the Dodgers.

"The Braves have always been kind of like that ex-girlfriend that you always think about," Moylan said. "I'd always check the Braves' results and hope that they were doing well. But I can do it for real now and not have to hide it."

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