7/1/2014 12:35 A.M. ET
Kimbrel putting together another All-Star worthy half
By Mark Bowman and Joe Morgan / MLB.com
ATLANTA -- Braves closer Craig Kimbrel has been nearly untouchable the past two summers. Between 2012 and '13, Kimbrel compiled a 1.11 ERA, struck out 14.9 batters per nine innings and converted 92 of 99 save opportunities.
Kimbrel also tallied a 6.6 WAR (Wins Above Replacement), two top-five finishes in National League Cy Young Award voting and his second and third All-Star nods.
So even though Kimbrel is tied for second in the Majors with 24 saves, ranks third among pitchers who have thrown at least 20 innings with 15.3 strikeouts per nine and broke John Smoltz's Braves franchise record for saves, he will likely have to wait until Sunday to find out if he will earn his fourth All-Star nod.
The 2014 American League and National League All-Star teams will be unveiled on the Taco Bell All-Star Selection Show on Sunday, July 6, beginning at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN, with further details to follow on MLB.com.
Although Kimbrel will have to rely on his peers for votes, fans can cast their votes for starters at MLB.com and all 30 club sites -- online or on a mobile device -- using the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Experian until Thursday, July 3, at 11:59 p.m. ET. The 2014 All-Star Game will be played at Target Field on Tuesday, July 15.
Immediately following the announcement of the AL and NL All-Star rosters, fans can begin voting to select the final player for each league's 34-man roster via the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote Sponsored by Experian. Fans will cast their votes from a list of five players from each league over the balloting period.
And the voting doesn't end there. The final phase of All-Star Game voting will again have fans participating in the voting for the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. During the Midsummer Classic, fans will vote exclusively online at MLB.com via the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote Sponsored by Pepsi, and their voice will represent 20 percent of the overall vote that determines the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.
Should Kimbrel not make the roster cut on Sunday, he is a strong candidate for the NL Final Vote. How many pitchers can say that a 2.23 ERA is a career-worst number? Kimbrel has that luxury, and the season has barely reached the midway mark.
Kimbrel may have already matched the four blown saves he had last season, but if there is a pitcher capable of holding steady at that number, it would be the one who threw 28 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings from July 8 to Sept. 10, 2013.
And given his performance this season, why shouldn't Kimbrel get the chance to avenge his tough eighth inning from last year's Midsummer Classic when he gave up a run on three hits and threw a wild pitch in the NL's 3-0 loss at Citi Field?
He could redeem himself on July 15 at Target Field, where MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage of the All-Star Week festivities.
The 85th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and SiriusXM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.
Gattis lands on DL with bulging thoracic disk
ATLANTA -- An MRI exam performed Monday revealed Evan Gattis has a bulging thoracic disk that will land him on the 15-day disabled list. The Braves will make a corresponding move before Tuesday's game.
Gattis, who will receive an epidural, had hoped to avoid a disabled-list stint after missing the past four games with back discomfort, which was diagnosed as a right rhomboid spasm. He does not anticipate surgery as doctors told him roughly 90-95 percent of issues with bulging thoracic disks eventually "resolve themselves."
"I'm not sure what the timetable [for a potential return] is, but I don't think it'll be too long term," Gattis said. "Obviously disappointing, but I'm just ready to get back as soon as I can."
Gattis has been sidelined since back discomfort forced him from Friday's game in Philadelphia during the first inning. There was uncertainty regarding the injury at first, so the MRI brought Gattis some much-needed clarity.
"I didn't really know. Kind of felt like a pinch, so the first day, initially, I felt like it was kind of close to the spine or something like that, but I didn't know if it was that or intercostal or what," Gattis said. "Initially, it just kind of hurt to breathe and stuff like that, so I've got some kind of relief knowing I've got an answer."
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez added: "You don't know until you get the MRI. The MRI is kind of a telltale sign of everything, and I guess it was worse than what we thought. We thought it was muscular, but I guess it was a bulging disk. He's going to sit out for a little bit and get that straightened out."
Christian Bethancourt, the organization's second-ranked prospect, was called up from Triple-A Gwinnett on Saturday to provide depth at catcher. His presence helps backup Gerald Laird, who caught five of the final seven games of Atlanta's recently concluded road trip.
"If he's here, you know how I am; get him off the plane and put him in the lineup," Gonzalez said of giving Bethancourt his second start in three games on Monday. "I don't want to run Laird into the ground."
The corresponding roster move could be the activation of right-handed reliever David Carpenter. Carpenter, who has been on the disabled list since June 17 with a right biceps strain, has fanned four batters in two perfect innings on a rehab assignment with Gwinnett that began on June 28.
Carpenter struck out the side on 13 pitches in a perfect inning on Monday and will be re-evaluated by team doctors before determining whether he will activated.
"The way he felt before he left [for his rehab assignment], he felt great," Gonzalez said. "I don't see any reason why, when he's eligible, we couldn't activate him."
As far as Gattis is concerned, there is no rehab assignment in sight. In fact, once he receives an epidural, the next step is rest.
"I'm getting the epidural, and after that, I'm not sure," Gattis said. "I know I'm not doing too much activity for the next three to five days, for sure, and then after that, I guess we'll just play it by ear, but I don't really know yet."
Floyd taking latest elbow injury in stride
ATLANTA -- Gavin Floyd expects to wait at least a month before getting a better understanding of whether he might at least have an opportunity to pitch again next year. In the meantime, the veteran right-hander is looking forward to spending some time with his Braves teammates.
Floyd arrived at Turner Field before Monday night's game against the Mets. This marked the first time he was back in the Braves' clubhouse since he suffered a season-ending right elbow injury as he attempted to complete an impressive outing against the Nationals on June 19.
Initially, there was reason to wonder if Floyd had damaged his right elbow's ulnar collateral ligament, which had been repaired 13 months earlier via Tommy John surgery. Instead, X-rays showed the veteran pitcher actually fractured the olecranon (the elbow's prominent bone) with his only pitch of the seventh inning.
"I guess the bright spot of this is it's the bone and bones heal," said Floyd, who was pleased to hear that he had not damaged his right elbow's UCL or the flexor tendon, both of which had been surgically repaired on May 7, 2013.
Dr. David Altchek surgically inserted a screw into Floyd's elbow last week. Altchek, who had also performed the Tommy John surgery, will not set a timetable for a potential return until he sees how the bone heals. Floyd is scheduled to meet with the surgeon again on July 24.
"You just have to take it every week and let this thing heal," Floyd said. "Time will allow it to heal. Everybody heals differently."
Floyd's injury certainly highlighted the sometimes cruel nature of sports. He suffered this latest elbow injury in the midst of the most impressive of the nine starts he made after enduring a 12-month rehab process following Tommy John surgery.
Floyd, who produced a 2.65 ERA in those nine starts, will be a free agent at the end of this season. The one-year deal he signed with the Braves in December ended up being worth approximately $4.75 million.
"Anytime you have a full year rehabbing with the ligament and stuff like that and knowing that everything was building up and getting better, it was definitely disappointing and unexpected," Floyd said. "But I'm thankful it had nothing to do with the Tommy John [repairs]."
Braves to open gates early for World Cup viewing
ATLANTA -- The Braves will open the Turner Field gates at 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday to allow ticket holders for that night's game against the Mets to watch the World Cup match between the United States and Belgium on the JumboTron in center field.
The match is part of the World Cup's single-elimination Round of 16. If the United States, which placed second in Group G, wins, it will advance to the quarterfinals. ESPN will broadcast the match live from Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador, Brazil.
This will be the second U.S. match to come on a day with a Braves' home game, but the 6 p.m. start time between the U.S. and Ghana on June 16 was too close to that day's scheduled first pitch at 7:10 p.m. to air the broadcast.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. Joe Morgan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.