NEW YORK — Atlanta Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez figured the news might be bad for Jonny Venters when the left-handed pitcher went to visit Dr. James Andrews this week.
Still, the official news Thursday that Venters has torn the UCL in his left elbow for a third time — and will likely need a third Tommy John surgery if he wants to pitch again — left Gonzalez shaken.
“I feel for the young man,” Gonzalez said before the Braves’ 6-1 win over the New York Mets at Citi Field. “I called and left a message. I’m sure we’ll see him on the homestand (which begins Friday) and see what his decision is in the next couple days.”
Venters previously underwent Tommy John surgeries to fix his UCL in October 2005 and May 2013. He missed the 2006 season while recovering from the first procedure and battled left elbow problems throughout the 2008 season.
This recovery was even more laborious, which is why Gonzalez feared the worst.
“We couldn’t get him (over) the hump — that’s what (trainer) Bubba (Porter) said, there’s got to be something,” Gonzalez said.
“We didn’t ramp him up much. It was playing catch and throwing some sides. He was probably at 50, 60, 70 percent.”
Venters will be facing some long odds if he undergoes a third Tommy John surgery and embarks upon another comeback. Jason Isringhausen and Jose Rijo are believed to be the only pitchers to appear in the majors following a third Tommy John operation.
“You hate for players to get hurt,” Gonzalez said. “And he’s a young guy. He’s not even 30 years old. In the middle of (his) career.”
Venters last pitched for the Braves on Oct. 5, 2012, when he appeared in the National League wild card game against the St. Louis Cardinals. He pitched in an NL-high 85 games in 2011, when he struck out 96 batters in 88 innings, earned five saves and made the All-Star team.