ATLANTA -- As left-handed reliever Matt Marksberry made the 400-mile drive from Pearl, Miss., to Turner Field on Saturday, he was preparing to become the sixth Minor Leaguer the Braves have added to their bullpen through 17 games.
But Marksberry's stay proved to be short as he was optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett after facing four batters and allowing a run in Saturday night's 8-2 loss to the Mets at Turner Field. He was sent back to the Minors to create a 25-man roster spot for highly regarded pitching prospect Aaron Blair, who will make his Major League debut when he starts Sunday's series finale against the Mets.
The Braves recalled Marksberry from Double-A Mississippi on Saturday and optioned right-hander Casey Kelly to Gwinnett. Kelly will be unavailable until at least Monday after completing three innings of relief in Friday's loss to the Mets, so the Braves needed to add an available arm.
Marksberry was originally told he had been promoted to Gwinnett on Friday. But because left-hander Eric O'Flaherty also was going to be unavailable Saturday, the Braves altered the plan and instead called up Marksberry to have two available left-handed relievers for Saturday night's game.
The Braves did not want to continue carrying three left-handed relievers, thus they opted to keep O'Flaherty and Hunter Cervenka while reverting back to their initial plan to have Marksberry extend his development with Gwinnett.
O'Flaherty (0-2, 8.10 ERA in 10 games) has struggled, allowing exactly half of the 18 batters he had faced to reach via hit or walk. The veteran lefty, who was acquired from the Pirates during Spring Training's final week, has allowed four hits (three extra-base hits) and issued a walk while facing 13 left-handed batters.
The Braves will continue to show patience with O'Flaherty, who is guaranteed $1.75 million this season. Pitching coach Roger McDowell has been attempting to help the veteran make mechanical adjustments with the hope of pitching more like he did when he was one of Atlanta's dominant setup men before undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2013.
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.