Foltynewicz makes progress with solid rehab start

Foltynewicz makes progress with solid rehab start

ATLANTA -- When Mike Foltynewicz landed on the disabled list on June 4 with bone spurs in his right elbow, he knew he'd need to overcome the mental aspect of pitching with the injury.

Three weeks later, the right-hander showed he's made strides toward clearing that hurdle.

In his first rehab outing for Triple-A Gwinnett on Saturday, Foltynewicz tossed five scoreless innings, surrendering only one hit and striking out five batters. The 24-year-old threw 65 pitches, 43 for strikes, and issued no walks.

"Physically, I feel fine, just normal soreness as of right now," said Foltynewicz before Sunday's series finale between the Braves and Mets at Turner Field. "After 65 pitches, I felt better than I thought I would."

Before being placed on the DL, Foltynewicz said he wasn't feeling much discomfort when he attempted to throw, but added he occasionally tried to compensate by altering his arm slot during a bullpen session.

An MRI and CT scan showed no structural damage in his elbow, and while the former first-round Draft pick didn't feel confident pitching in a Major League game with the injury, the results he's received from doctors have helped him mentally.

"That just put in my head, 'All right, just go out there and it's not going to hurt. Just go about the way you've been pitching the last couple of months,'" Foltynewicz said. "Now just mentally and physically, it's all there. It's all coming back, and I feel good about everything."

Foltynewicz's 2015 season ended prematurely in September when he developed blood clots in his pitching arm. He couldn't throw again until January and was forced to begin the year in Triple-A.

But after returning to Atlanta on May 2, the right-hander was pitching better than he had in his previous two seasons in the Majors.

Through six starts, Foltynewicz posted a 2-2 record and a 3.51 ERA while striking out 28 batters and issuing eight walks in 33 1/3 innings. In his final outing before his injury, he surrendered one run and only three hits in six innings against the Giants on May 30.

Foltynewicz is scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Monday. The Braves plan on giving him one more start with Gwinnett before hopefully bringing him back into the rotation for two starts before the All-Star break.

"Just keep progressing, just keep seeing how my arm feels," said Foltynewicz about his recovery. "I'm going to throw a bullpen tomorrow and just take it from there. But everything feels good and I'm happy about the way things are coming along."

Pat James is a reporter for MLB.com based in Atlanta. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.