7/23/2014 6:43 P.M. ET
Minor assures Fredi there's no injury behind struggles
By Mark Bowman and Joe Morgan / MLB.com
ATLANTA -- As his struggles have extended over the past six weeks, Mike Minor has created reason to wonder if he has been hiding an injury. The Braves left-hander contended he was healthy when asked after allowing 10 hits in a season-low three innings in a 6-5 loss to the Marlins on Tuesday night.
But that did not stop Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez from approaching Minor about his health on Wednesday afternoon.
"That was my biggest concern, 'Are you healthy?'" Gonzalez said. "He said, 'I feel great.' So now that we've got that out of the way, let's work on mechanics or delivery. Hitters and pitchers get out of whack."
When Minor posted a 3.07 ERA through his first seven starts this year, he looked much like he had while producing a 2.90 ERA during the 47 starts he made from July 5, 2012 through the end of last year. But while posting a 7.86 ERA and surrendering a .362 batting average in his past eight starts, the southpaw has fueled some of the concerns that were present when he battled a cranky left shoulder during the early days of Spring Training.
Minor blamed the shoulder discomfort on the accelerated preparations he had to make after an internal surgical procedure had kept him sedentary throughout most of January. But he has never since complained about shoulder discomfort.
An American League scout present for Tuesday night's game said he is convinced that Minor is injured. While this theory is shared by some, the 26-year-old lefty has continued to show relatively normal arm strength. In fact, per Fangraphs.com, the average velocity of his fastball, curveball and slider has been higher than it was last year.
"I'm pretty much the same pitcher as last year," Minor said. "Maybe I'm not just executing my pitches or maybe just not going after guys, kind of nibbling or aiming the ball."
Minor and pitching coach Roger McDowell will spend the next few days attempting to find the mechanical flaws that have led the southpaw to allow at least 10 hits in four of his past eight starts. Before this stretch, he had allowed double-digit hit totals in just three of 92 starts.
"You start off Spring Training with an injury and you come in with a different feel and a different mindset and you're trying to feel for certain things," outfielder Jason Heyward said. "It's tough to go out there and compete the way you can. For him, I'd say that's the biggest difference."
Varvaro to paternity list; Schlosser up as long man
ATLANTA -- The Braves placed Anthony Varvaro on the paternity list Wednesday as the reliever's wife was set to give birth to the couple's second child. Gus Schlosser was recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett. Varvaro is allowed up to three days off, but he will likely return sooner than that.
"He gets three days, but he told me he doesn't think he needs three days," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "It's always a special thing."
The Braves will miss Varvaro, whose 2.29 ERA in 42 appearances is the second-best mark in the bullpen this season, but Schlosser's promotion temporarily fills a hole in the Atlanta bullpen created on Tuesday night.
David Hale entered Wednesday having pitched five innings in the past three days, including three frames in relief of starter Mike Minor on Tuesday night.
"He was pitching good, and we kind of needed a long guy," Gonzalez said of bringing up Schlosser, who is a starter for Gwinnett. "So we needed a kind of a guy that could give us some innings, some length, and so he's the guy."
Schlosser began the year with Atlanta, compiling a 4.50 ERA in 12 innings out of the 'pen before he was optioned back to Gwinnett. He owns a 3.65 ERA and opponents are batting .238 against him in 15 International League outings (13 starts).
Schlosser also joined the big league club as the 26th man during the Braves' doubleheader in Philadelphia on June 28, but he did not see any action.
The side-armer has been especially effective of late, notching five quality starts and a perfect inning of relief in his past six trips to the hill. He is 3-2 with a 1.91 ERA, a 1.15 WHIP and 2.45 walks per nine during the stretch, showing progress in a season where his 3.7 walks per nine is on track to be his worst rate since he was drafted in 2011.
"Overall, I've been pretty good, just trying to get better," Schlosser said. "I still work on my changeup a lot, and I think it's gotten better and better each time out."
After back-to-back starts, Gattis gets a breather
ATLANTA -- Now that Evan Gattis has returned from the disabled list, the Braves will make every attempt to prevent him from encountering further back discomfort. So after handling the starting catching duties the previous two days, Gattis rested during Wednesday night's game against the Marlins.
Gattis has been limited to a single in seven at-bats since being activated on Monday. More importantly, he got through the two games without any reason to be concerned about the bulging thoracic disk that had sidelined him since June 27.
"The timing is not there yet, but physically it's all good," Gattis said.
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said he will likely not play Gattis more than two or three straight days over the next couple of weeks.
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.