Winkler's injury spurs change in mechanics

Braves pitcher makes progress after fractured elbow

Winkler's injury spurs change in mechanics

LAKE BUENA VISTA , Fla. -- Though the gruesome sequence led him to the lowest point of his career, Braves reliever Daniel Winkler has repeatedly watched video clips of the moment he fractured his right elbow while throwing a pitch against the Cardinals on April 10.

While this might seem somewhat masochistic to some, Winkler, 27, has studied the sequence, as he has searched for a way to alter his mechanics and distance himself from the frustration he has felt while spending most of the past 2½ seasons on the disabled list with an elbow injury.

Spring: Tickets | Ballpark | 40-man roster | NRIs

"I've been trying to fix my mechanics and take some stress off my elbow," Winkler said. "Just watching [video of the pitch that resulted in the elbow fracture] gives me perspective on where the stress is coming and everything like that. So, yeah, I've watched it. My wife hasn't yet. She still can't.

"I just think I was putting too much stress [on my elbow]. I was too long. My body was getting out in front of me. I throw different. I throw weird. I'm trying to keep that deceptiveness, but use more of my body and less of my arm so that it takes the brunt of the stress off of my elbow."

After missing most of the 2015 season while recovering from the Tommy John surgery that preceded the Braves selecting him from the Rockies system in the 2014 Rule 5 Draft, Winkler flourished during last year's Spring Training, earned an Opening Day roster spot and retired seven of the eight batters he faced before fracturing his elbow while throwing a 3-2 cutter that sailed approximately 10 feet behind St. Louis' Randal Grichuk.

"I was on a super high and then experienced one of the lowest lows of my life," Winkler said. "But it's just good to be back and be around the guys again."

Winkler exits with an injury

Winkler has felt strong through the early portion of Spring Training, and he has the comfort of knowing he will likely begin the upcoming season on the disabled list. But once his DL stint expires, the Braves will have to make an interesting decision.

Because Winkler was acquired via the Rule 5 Draft, he would still need to remain on Atlanta's active roster for 47 days after he is activated from the DL. If he isn't on the active roster, the Braves would have to offer him back to the Rockies at a cost of $25,000.

"I think I'm at a really good spot," Winkler said. "My elbow feels a lot better than it did a couple months ago. It just took a long time to heal because it was in a weird spot with bad blood flow. Now that it's healed, it's feeling great. I'm feeling really good about where I am, and hopefully I'll get on the mound really soon. My mechanics are feeling really good. So, I'm in a good spot."

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