NEW YORK -- Upon learning that it would be without left-handed reliever Andrew McKirahan for nearly three months, the active Braves front office began evaluating ways to strengthen its depleted bullpen via the trade market.
But with limited attractive options currently available, the Braves opted to recall left-handed reliever Ian Thomas from Triple-A Gwinnett. Thomas fills the roster spot and role previously held by McKirahan, who received a 80-game suspension on Monday for testing positive for Ipamorelin, a performance-enhancing substance, in violation of Major League Baseball Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
"It feels good to be back," Thomas said. "I'm going to try to stay up as long as I can and work diligently on my progression and health."
Thomas began this season with Double-A Mississippi and then earned a promotion to Gwinnett's roster last week. The 28-year-old southpaw posted a 4.66 ERA in the 16 appearances he made after spending the first two months of last season as a member of Atlanta's bullpen.
The Braves were encouraged by what they saw recently from Thomas, who surrendered just one hit while combining for six scoreless innings for Mississippi and Gwinnett this year.
"We cut him early in Spring Training, but from all the reports I've read, he took it as a challenge and he behaved down there and didn't pout one second," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "Now, here we are two weeks into the season and he's ready to come back up and help us win ballgames. It's nice to know that we've seen him before and we know what to expect."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.