Flowers out 6-plus weeks with broken hand

Flowers out 6-plus weeks with broken hand

ATLANTA -- Though the Braves were cautiously optimistic Tyler Flowers would need just a few days of rest, the veteran catcher entered the All-Star break with a sense he would get the news that was delivered on Tuesday, when he learned he could be sidelined into September with a broken left hand.

A Braves source confirmed Flowers received this diagnosis via the results of a MRI exam that was performed in Atlanta on Monday. The 30-year-old catcher will miss at least six weeks, but it seems quite possible that he could be out through a portion of the final month of the regular season.

"It's tough news for sure and tough timing," Flowers said. "I've been able to get consistent at-bats and consistent starts behind the plate, which has allowed me to work with the starting pitchers as we continued to develop and have good results as a team and [pitching] staff. It's frustrating, but this motivates me to get back as soon as possible to continue that development with all of our pitchers."

Flowers exited Saturday afternoon's game against the White Sox after he checked a swing in the second inning. Now that the MRI results have been revealed, it appears this left hand fracture had actually been incurred a week earlier when Flowers used the hand to deflect an up-and-in fastball Marlins reliever Nick Wittgren threw on July 1. Flowers had hit a game-tying home run off A.J. Ramos the previous inning.

As Flowers played four more full games after getting hit by Wittgren's pitch, he never complained about his hand. The suburban Atlanta native had become the Braves' primary catcher approximately a month earlier, and he seemed to find his stride at the plate during the second half of June. He hit .286 with four home runs in the 15 games he played dating back to June 15.

"I'd found some sort of consistency beyond a one-to-two week period of time, so that was a very exciting thing," Flowers said. "To break up that consistency with this kind of injury is a tough one."

The Braves entered the break having won 13 of their past 25 games, but they now face the possibility of spending the next two months without their starting catcher. A.J. Pierzynski will likely share the catching duties with Anthony Recker, who is expected to be promoted from Triple-A Gwinnett to take Flowers' roster spot.

Pierzynski spent most of this season's first two months as Atlanta's primary catcher. But the 39-year-old veteran, who has hit .205 and compiled a .477 OPS this season, should not be counted on to fill this role at this point in his career.

Recker has batted .185 and compiled a .594 OPS over 511 career plate appearances with the A's, Cubs and Mets. The 32-year-old catcher hit .243 with six home runs over 154 plate appearances for Gwinnett. He was acquired from the Indians for cash considerations in May.

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.