4/21/2014 7:31 P.M. ET
Varvaro turning heads with relief work
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
ATLANTA -- Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez was encouraged by what he saw from a number of his relievers during Sunday afternoon's 14-inning loss to the Mets. Gus Schlosser worked three scoreless innings before surrendering Curtis Granderson's game-ending sacrifice fly.
Schlosser deservedly garnered much of the postgame praise for the way he handled himself as he worked more than two innings for the first time in his career. But Anthony Varvaro has also caught the attention of his manager and teammates, as he displayed a high-powered fastball during a scoreless 10th inning.
"I've seen it from [Varvaro] before," Gonzalez said. "You've seen him come out of the bullpen, and he can really light up that radar gun. I've been really, really impressed with him the last couple of times out. He's throwing strikes and getting some big time hitters out."
After surrendering David Wright's leadoff single in the 10th inning on Sunday, Varvaro ended the frame with consecutive strikeouts of Chris Young and Lucas Duda. Young ended his at-bat by swinging through a 97-mph heater, one of six fastballs that registered higher than 95 mph during the inning.
Varvaro, a Long Island native, admits his adrenaline started flowing a little more after Wright singled. Each of the first four fastballs he threw during the inning registered between 92-93 mph. Just one of the last 10 fastballs he threw was clocked below 95 mph.
"We always tell him he's holding back," Braves right-handed reliever David Carpenter said. "Then all of a sudden he's popping 95 or 96 and we think, 'He's ready to go, he must have stretched a little more.'"
Since experiencing a rocky Spring Training, during which he initially toyed with developing a slider, Varvaro has shown the Braves he can be a dependable sixth or seventh-inning option, like he has been the past two seasons. He has allowed just one run in 4 1/3 innings over his first five appearances.
"It's nice for a manager or a bullpen coach, when the bullpen door opens, you know what you're going to get," Gonzalez said. "You know what you're going to get with him. He can sit around for three or four days and not pitch. Then you bring him in a situation, and if you match him up right, he's going to be successful."
Braves still deciding Minor's return date
ATLANTA -- After watching Mike Minor complete a bullpen session on Tuesday, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez and pitching coach Roger McDowell will determine how their starting rotation will shape up over the course of the next week.
As Minor spent the past few weeks making Minor League rehab starts, the plan was for him to make his regular-season debut in Wednesday afternoon's series finale against the Mets. But this plan was altered when rain prevented him from making his most recent rehab start last Friday.
Because that rehab start was pushed back to Saturday and the Braves have an off-day on Thursday, the Braves now have to decide whether to start Minor or Ervin Santana in Friday night's series opener against the Reds.
If either of these two pitcher's next start is pushed back to Saturday, they would be pitching with two extra days of rest. Because Santana has already established the rhythm of his regular-season schedule, Minor seems to be the more likely to start on Saturday.
But the Braves have not completely ruled out the possibility that Minor will make at least one more Minor League start. This would allow Minor to gain more endurance. At the same time, it would also prevent Alex Wood and Aaron Harang from having to start the first two games of next week's series in Miami with two extra days of rest.
"Nothing is written in stone," Gonzalez said. "[Minor] will throw his side and we'll ask him, 'how do you feel? Do you feel like you need another [rehab start]? It's a two-way conversation and we'll go from there."
While making five starts dating back to the March 29 Future Stars exhibition game played at Class A Rome's State Mutual Stadium, Minor has not experienced any problems with his left shoulder, which was sore during the early portion of Spring Training. The soreness has been blamed on the month-long inactive stretch Minor experienced after undergoing a Dec. 31 urinary tract procedure.
If Minor does join Atlanta's rotation at some point this week, his primary concern would be how long he could last. The 80 pitches he threw during Saturday's six-inning stint with Triple-A Gwinnett stand as the most he has thrown in a game this year.
"I don't feel my shoulder anymore," Minor said. "It's been more a matter of just getting those starts and getting my pitch count up."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.