'Excellent' mound session for Jurrjens
Cox encouraged as righty throws 15 fastballs with no pain
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Jair Jurrjens took another positive step on Monday morning, when he was able to complete a short mound session without feeling any discomfort in his previously ailing right shoulder.
Provided clearance to throw off the mound for the first time since Spring Training began, Jurrjens threw 15 fastballs. Braves manager Bobby Cox said the 24-year-old right-hander looked "excellent" during the session, which was kept short via directions provided by the club's medical staff.
"He held back a little bit because he was supposed to," Cox said. "But the ball had all kind of movement on it. It was very good. It was only 15 or so pitches, but that's what [the staff] wanted him to do."
Jurrjens will take one day off, then return to the mound on Wednesday for a longer throwing session. Once the righty completes at least three mound sessions in pain-free fashion, the Braves will likely clear him to begin throwing in Grapefruit League games. Jurrjens is scheduled to make his regular-season debut against the Cubs on April 7 -- the Braves' second game of the season.
"He's not far behind at all," said Cox, after revealing that Jurrjens had started throwing off a mound in his native Curacao in December.
When Jurrjens reported early to camp three weeks ago, he was fighting some right shoulder discomfort, which the Braves believe was a product of an awkward throw he had made to second base while performing fielding drills with other professional players in Curacao.
After returning to Atlanta on Feb. 16 for an MRI, Jurrjens learned that he was dealing with some inflammation around his shoulder that was causing him to feel a pinching sensation at the end of his deliveries.
Jurrjens has combined to go 27-20 with a 3.10 ERA in the 65 starts he has made for the Braves over the past two seasons. While avoiding a sophomore slump last summer, Jurrjens went 14-10 with a 2.60 ERA -- the National League's third-best mark. He allowed two earned runs or fewer in 26 of his 34 starts.
Accounting for the fact that Jurrjens has totaled 403 1/3 innings during his first two full big league seasons, the Braves have arranged their rotation with the hope that it will provide the young hurler more opportunities to pitch with an extra day of rest with greater regularity during the middle months of the season.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.