Banuelos has bone spur removed from elbow

Braves hope lefty will be ready at start of 2016 Spring Training

Banuelos has bone spur removed from elbow

ATLANTA -- Braves left-hander Manny Banuelos received encouraging news when he learned that his most recent elbow discomfort was being caused by the same bone spur that sidelined him in late July, less than one month into his promising career.

The Braves announced that Dr. James Andrews surgically removed the spur from Banuelos' elbow on Thursday afternoon. If all goes well over the next few months, the 24-year-old pitcher should be ready for the start of Spring Training.

"I'm sure we'll have to take it easy [with Banuelos], but I think he'll be ready to go," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said.

Banuelos had made just four starts for Atlanta before the spur was first seen via an MRI exam on July 28. The initial thought was that the spur might not be a problem after a couple of weeks of rest. But less than a month after resuming his throwing program, the rookie southpaw was shut down for the remainder of this season.

Thus, Dr. Andrews opted to remove the spur after evaluating the pitcher again this week.

When Banuelos was brought back to the Major League level earlier this month, he had made just a pair of two-inning rehab appearances. Thus, the plan was to allow him to steadily increase his arm strength while pitching a few innings at a time in Atlanta's rotation.

Banuelos battled some discomfort as he completed 2 2/3 innings against the Marlins on Sept. 1. But the ailment became even more bothersome as he was unable to get full extension with his arm as he completed two innings against the Nationals on Sept. 6.

The Braves made it clear last week that Banuelos would likely not pitch again this year. But Thursday's development gave them some peace of mind concerning the young hurler, who missed all of the 2013 season recovering from Tommy John surgery and then completed just 76 2/3 innings in the Yankees' farm system last year.

Banuelos posted a 2.61 ERA in the four Major League starts he made before going on the disabled list in July. If he remains healthy, he could have a legitimate chance to begin next season in Atlanta's starting rotation.

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