Withrow could be on verge of joining bullpen

MRI on right-hander shows no structural damage

Withrow could be on verge of joining bullpen

WASHINGTON -- Chris Withrow returned to Atlanta earlier this week with some concern about lingering right elbow discomfort. But after getting a clean bill of health, the Braves right-handed reliever learned he could be cleared to begin throwing again within the next few days.

A MRI exam performed on Withrow's right elbow showed no structural damage and he was diagnosed with what Braves interim manager Brian Snitker called a form of tendinitis. There is now reason to believe Withrow could rejoin Atlanta's bullpen soon after he becomes eligible to be activated from the disabled list on Aug. 20.

"The reports were good," Snitker said. "The ligament was good and all of that. Everything we've got indicates we can get him back and have him finish the year."

The back end of the Braves' bullpen has taken shape as Jose Ramirez and Mauricio Cabrera have proven to be reliable setup men for the revitalized Jim Johnson, who converted his eighth consecutive save opportunity on Friday. But this mix could become deeper and more formidable with the additions of Withrow and Arodys Vizcaino, who is expected to return from the disabled list next weekend.

Withrow stumbled out of the gate, allowing a run in three of the 10 appearances made in April. But since spending much of May with Triple-A Gwinnett, the 27-year-old right-hander has returned and established himself as one of the most reliable pieces in Atlanta's pen. He has posted a 1.47 ERA and limited opponents to a .197 batting average over his past 22 appearances.

"Since I've been here, he's been very good and reliable," Snitker said. "He's done it very efficiently. You feel good when he comes in there."

Withrow was held out of the first two games of last weekend's series in St. Louis with the hope that he simply needed a couple days of rest. But when he continued to feel discomfort when he threw before Sunday's series finale, the Braves opted to place him in on the disabled list and send him to Atlanta for further evaluation.

Their initial level of concern was enhanced by the fact that Withrow missed most of the 2014 season and all of 2015 while recovering from Tommy John surgery. His absence from action last year was also because he had undergone back surgery in December 2014.

Worth noting

• Right-handed reliever Akeel Morris' latest big league stint lasted less than 24 hours as the Braves optioned Morris back to Double-A Mississippi and recalled Ryan Weber from Gwinnett on Saturday.

Weber was not eligible to be recalled until Saturday because he had to remain with Gwinnett for 10 days after he was optioned on Aug. 3. Thus, when the Braves needed some insurance for Friday's game, they turned to Morris because he was already on the 40-man roster.

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.