WASHINGTON -- With Jair Jurrjens eligible for arbitration after this season, the Braves certainly did not want to see him struggle to a point where he could be non-tendered and lost with no return at the end of this year. But as he continues to struggle in the Minors, that is looking more like an option they will not be able to avoid.
Several members of the Braves' organization were thrilled when Jurrjens surrendered three hits and tossed eight scoreless innings while pitching for Triple-A Gwinnett against Rochester last Sunday. Finally, it seemed like he could be nearing a return to the Major League level.
But Jurrjens took a step back on Friday night, when he allowed 12 hits (three home runs) and six earned runs in 4 2/3 innings against Charlotte. This outing resembled many of the others he has experienced while posting a 5.56 ERA in the seven starts he has made since being optioned to Gwinnett.
Until Jurrjens shows some consistency, the Braves are left with no other choice but to continue paying him his $5.5 million salary while he tries to get right with Gwinnett.
"We made it clear to him and his representative [Scott Boras] that as soon as he pitches to his capabilities, we want him back in the big leagues," Braves general manager Frank Wren said on Saturday afternoon.
This has been Wren's stance since Jurrjens was sent to Gwinnett after posting a 9.37 ERA in four starts for Atlanta this year.
But Jurrjens told the Atlanta-Journal Constitution that he got a different sense when he learned Kris Medlen was being sent to Gwinnett to stretch out to be a starting pitcher this week.
"It just shows me what I mean to them," Jurrjens told the AJC. "It doesn't feel good, but that's OK. It's business."