ATLANTA -- When it was time for Braves left-handed reliever Jonny Venters to undergo his third Tommy John surgery last week, he opted to use Dr. Neal ElAttrache, instead of Dr. James Andrews, the noted surgeon who had performed the first two procedures on Venters' left elbow.
"In my mind, I thought it would be worth a shot to maybe try to go with somebody who does a different procedure," Venters said. "Dr. Andrews is still the man, and I am grateful for everything he has ever done for me. I wasn't upset with anything he did. I just figured trying something different would be worth a shot."
Regardless of who performed the surgery, Venters is facing very steep odds as he aims to pitch again during the 2016 season. Few pitchers have to undergo three Tommy John surgeries, which repairs the elbow's ulnar collateral ligament. Jason Isringhausen and Jose Rijo stand as two of the few pitchers who have ever pitched at the Major League level after undergoing a third procedure.
So when forced to make a decision, Venters opted to take a different route with the hope that his elbow will better react to the technique of ElAttrache, who also performed Braves right-hander Brandon Beachy's second TJ surgery earlier this year.
According to Venters, ElAttrache's technique differs from Andrews' in the way he drills holes in the elbow and the way he ties the ligament down.
While the Braves generously offered Venters arbitration last year with the understanding he might not pitch this year, the veteran lefty understands he might be unemployed next year, as he spends an entire season rehabbing with the hope to pitch again as early as 2016.
"I haven't spoken to the Braves about what will happen behind this year, but I'm grateful for everything they have done so far," Venters said. "There's a lot of question marks. Obviously, this has been done before, but it's very uncharted territory. Whether I'm with a team or not, I'll be doing my rehab and preparing to pitch again."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.