04/30/2013 7:31 PM ET
Venters progresses, plays catch from 60 feet
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
ATLANTA -- Jonny Venters will have much more challenging hurdles to clear over the course of the next few weeks. But the Braves' left-handed reliever was encouraged on Tuesday, when he played catch for the first time since elbow discomfort forced him to exit a Grapefruit League game on March 26.
"He had a smile on his face," said manager Fredi Gonzalez. "We'll know more when he gets on the mound. I don't know when that will be. But he's moving in the right direction and he feels good."
Venters received a platelet-rich-plasma injection and was ordered to rest for four weeks after visiting with Dr. James Andrews on April 2. The hope is that this remedy will prevent Venters from feeling the elbow discomfort that plagued him during the first half of last season and again during the latter portion of this year's Spring Training.
Venters completed three sets of 25 throws from a distance of 60 feet on Tuesday. His encouragement came from the fact that he was not even able to complete this simple exercise after he rested for a month before undergoing Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery in 2005.
"It's definitely encouraging for me, just for my own peace of mind," Venters said.
Ayala placed on DL with anxiety disorder
ATLANTA -- The Braves placed right-handed reliever Luis Ayala on the disabled list with anxiety disorder and recalled right-handed reliever David Carpenter from Triple-A Gwinnett before Tuesday night's game against the Nationals.
Braves general manager Frank Wren said Ayala began experiencing high blood pressure last week and made two trips to the emergency room while the team was in Denver. Though he pitched in the series finale against the Rockies, the left-handed reliever did not travel with the Braves to Detroit for this past weekend's series.
Ayala has spent the past few days being evaluated by Braves doctors in Atlanta. Wren said the current belief is that the anxiety is a product of finding out that he had high blood pressure.
"He's been put on blood-pressure medication to hopefully ease the anxiety," Wren said. "But right now, it's just a function of him getting used to the medication and getting back to feeling well. It's a bit of a process to get those meds regulated."
Ayala has compiled a 3.86 ERA in the five appearances he has made for the Braves since being acquired in a trade with the Orioles on April 9. He allowed two hits and one run while recording just one out in the one appearance he made in Denver last week.
Carpenter has compiled a 3.52 ERA in six appearances with Gwinnett this year. The 27-year-old converted catcher has been utilized in multi-inning appearances to provide him a chance to get a better feel for his offspeed pitches.
Walden returns to using effective changeup
ATLANTA -- When Jordan Walden began serving as the Angels' closer in 2011, he ditched his changeup and focused on throwing his fastball and slider. But if Walden's changeup continues to act like it did in Monday's win over the Nationals, opponents are going to see it with more frequency.
"It's time to have a changeup," Walden said. "A lot of hitters have been sitting on my fastball and attacking it. So I needed something that looked the same [as my fastball]."
Walden retired each of the five batters he faced on Monday and used his changeup to record each of his three strikeouts. The veteran reliever's changeup acts like a splitter and could prove to increase the success he has had throughout his career against left-handed hitters.
"I've just got to keep doing that," Walden said. "It was nice to get swings like that. I went through a stretch where every time they put a bat on the ball, it was finding a hole. I was like, 'What's going on?'"
Walden's motivation to begin using his changeup with more frequency came after he allowed 10 hits in the 6 1/3 innings he completed through his first seven appearances of the season. He allowed just one hit in the 4 1/3 innings that followed.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.