Ankle injury forces Jurrjens to skip start
Right-hander could join three other starting pitchers on DL
CHICAGO -- Whenever it has seemed like things can't get any worse for the Braves, they have. Still, nobody could have expected to see two of their starting pitchers suffer injuries on the same day that John Smoltz underwent season-ending shoulder surgery.
While Smoltz was in Birmingham on Tuesday night recovering from surgery to repair his damaged labrum, his good friend Tom Glavine was laboring through three innings filled with left-elbow discomfort.
Approximately 15 minutes after announcing that Glavine would be going on the disabled list, Braves manager Bobby Cox was alerted that Wednesday night's scheduled starter Jair Jurrjens was at the bottom of the clubhouse stairs.
As he reached the final step of the long staircase outside of Wrigley Field's visitor's clubhouse, Jurrjens turned his left ankle and remained on the ground until the team's medical staff could help him back to the clubhouse.
"It's almost to where it doesn't surprise you anymore when something bad happens," said Chipper Jones, shortly before Jeff Bennett made a spot start in place of Jurrjens -- in which he was tagged for seven runs in two-plus innings.
While Jurrjens wasn't able to start Wednesday's game, all wasn't completely bad for the Braves on Wednesday. The rookie right-hander's ankle didn't appear to be bothering him much, and Jones returned to the lineup after missing two games with a strained right quadriceps muscle.
"I think [Jurrjens] might be able to make a start in five or six days," Cox said. "We'll see how it goes."
The Braves will promote Charlie Morton, who has gone 4-2 with a 2.05 ERA for Triple-A Richmond, to make his Major League debut against the Angels on Saturday and move Jorge Campillo's start back to Sunday. If Jurrjens is healthy enough, he'd pitch Monday against the Rockies at Coors Field, a makeup game of an April 10 snowout.
Jurrjens, who leads Major League rookies with six wins, is able to stand solely on his left leg without any discomfort. Still, when visited at 7 a.m. ET on Wednesday by Jeff Porter, the team's head athletic trainer, the 22-year-old right-hander wasn't able to show enough mobility to prove he could make Wednesday's start.
"I tried to convince them, but they didn't want to risk it," Jurrjens said.
As players arrived at the clubhouse on Wednesday, they were asking about Glavine. But the 42-year-old southpaw didn't return to Atlanta until late afternoon and likely won't have his MRI scan until Thursday.
If Jurrjens is only forced to miss one start and can possibly return Monday night at Coors Field, the Braves should at least feel fortunate. Left-handed reliever Will Ohman was just a few steps away when the rookie right-hander went to the ground.
"He walked down the stairs and I saw that I had the opportunity to start, so I kicked him in the back," Ohman said.
After enjoying a laugh, Ohman then said, "I was literally scared because you just don't know in that situation. It could have been his knee or whatever. It was scary."
Considering all of the injury-related phone calls that Frank Wren has fielded during his first year as the Braves general manager, there have been times when he's felt like he's participating in a horror movie.
"I feel like I'm in the twilight zone," Wren said. "I'm going to be like Pavlov's dog and have an aversion to phones ringing."
Entering this season, Tim Hudson, Smoltz, Glavine, Mike Hampton and Jurrjens were the team's projected starters. Now, just in June's second week, Hudson is the only member of this group who hasn't missed a start because of an injury.
Because Hampton hasn't pitched since 2005 and both Smoltz and Glavine are over 40 years old, many critics are now saying, "I told you so." Before the season, there was a group who believed the Braves simply had too many health risks in their projected rotation.
Hampton might begin a Minor League rehab assignment next week, and Smoltz is facing the prospect of never throwing another pitch. If Glavine's elbow is damaged, he, too, could be staring retirement in the face.
"We were fearful that something like this might happen to our starting rotation, and our worst fears have been realized," Jones said.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.