Moylan returns to Braves, throws perfect inning

Moylan returns to Braves, throws perfect inning

Moylan returns to Braves, throws perfect inning
ATLANTA -- Walking through the Braves' clubhouse Saturday afternoon, Ben Sheets stopped at right-hander Peter Moylan's locker, still mostly empty save his jerseys and a backpack.

"Look at you in the circle, bro," Sheets said. "Right where you left it."

Almost 11 months to the day after undergoing shoulder surgery, Moylan was back in the Major Leagues. He was one of the Braves' four callups from Triple-A Gwinnett as the rosters expanded Saturday. And he was right back in the inner circle of the Braves' keyhole-shaped clubhouse, not grouped with Sheets and the other more recent arrivals.

In his seven-year career, Moylan has overcome Tommy John surgery and back surgery. But he said this was the most trying comeback.

"It certainly hasn't been smooth sailing," Moylan said. "It wasn't like I got straight into games and got guys out like I used to. It's been a whole new learning process for me."

Moylan has pitched in 21 games at four levels of the Minor Leagues this season. He struck out 21 in 22 2/3 innings but has also allowed 27 hits and walked eight batters.

Moylan said as recently as eight days ago he didn't think he would be back in Atlanta this season. He had signed a Minor League contract in the offseason, knowing his road back from surgery would be a long one. And after an up-and-down series of appearances throughout the Braves' farm system, he was prepared for his season to end when Gwinnett plays its final game Monday in Norfolk, Va.

But Wednesday, Moylan said the Braves told him he would be among their first group of September callups. It was an emotional moment for the 33-year-old.

"I was almost in tears to be honest," he said. "I wasn't expecting it. I wasn't sitting there hoping I was going to be called up in September. I thought my season was over. I was going to go to Norfolk, pitch in a couple more games and go home."

Instead, he is back in the Braves' bullpen. Manager Fredi Gonzalez said he will use Moylan primarily in situations where his sinker can be most effective.

"We'll use him to get ground balls, because that's what he does," Gonzalez said.

Moylan quickly made his first appearance since last September in Saturday's 5-1 loss to the Phillies. He threw a perfect eighth inning, retiring all three batters he faced on ground balls. Moylan threw nine pitches and said he had to work to contain his excitement on the mound.

"It was an amazing feeling," Moylan said. "I know I've put in some hard yards over the last few months to come back. For [general manager] Frank [Wren] and assistant general manager] Bruce [Manno] and the rest of the guys to put the faith in me to come back up and do it again, it means a lot."