Medlen returns to Braves on Minors deal

Medlen returns to Braves on Minors deal

ATLANTA -- Kris Medlen exited last season still burdened by the lingering effects of the second Tommy John surgery that ended his stretch as one of baseball's most effective starters and also led him to leave the Braves organization.

Medlen contemplated retirement until he was introduced to a biomechanics instructor, who helped reinvigorate the right-handed pitcher. And Medlen will now attempt to prolong his career via a Minor League deal with the Braves.

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"We're all excited about being part of the Braves' family again," said Medlen, who has maintained a suburban Atlanta residence with his wife, Nikki, and their two young children, Max and Penny.

Because Medlen is slightly behind schedule with his preseason preparations, he did not receive an invitation to Spring Training. But he has been encouraged by the patience and support Braves general manager John Coppolella has promised to provide.

Medlen was drafted by the Braves in the 10th round of the 2006 Draft, and he remained a part of the organization until he signed a two-year, $8.5 million contract with the Royals after the 2014 season, as he was recovering from his second Tommy John surgery.

After successfully returning to the Majors while posting a 4.01 ERA over 15 appearances for the 2015 World Series-champion Royals, Medlen battled shoulder discomfort and missed most of 2016. Kansas City opted not exercise his option for the upcoming season.

One of the more jovial and likeable personalities to pass through the Braves' clubhouse over the past decade, Medlen made his big league debut for Atlanta in 2009. He underwent his first Tommy John surgery in August 2010 before returning to the Braves' bullpen for the final week of the '11 season.

Medlen spent most of the first four months of 2012 in the bullpen, but after getting a chance to return to the rotation at the end of July, he posted a 0.97 ERA while making 12 starts over the remainder of that season.

Medlen produced a 2.46 ERA over the 43 starts he made from July 31, 2012 through the end of the '13 season. The only other pitcher to make at least 40 starts and produce a better ERA during this stretch was Clayton Kershaw.

Unfortunately for Medlen, his successful stretch was halted before the 2014 season when he felt a pop in his elbow during a Spring Training start. He immediately knew he was destined for the second Tommy John surgery, which he underwent the following week.

When the Braves contemplated bringing Medlen back in 2015, Coppolella and others said he had the kind of psyche and determination necessary to pitch effectively after undergoing a second Tommy John surgery.

Two years later, Medlen finds himself back home with a chance to prove he can still beat the odds.

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