June 14, 2013

Major League Notebook: Atlanta pitching staff is about to get crowded

The Associated Press

ATLANTA - Frank Wren is facing a dilemma that general managers both covet and dread.

The Atlanta Braves must make room in an already deep rotation as Brandon Beachy is almost set to return from elbow surgery. Beachy was perhaps Atlanta's top starter when his 2012 season ended as he led the National League with a 2.00 ERA.

Wren said Thursday the difficult part of the decision is moving a starter -- Tim Hudson, Mike Minor, Kris Medlen, Paul Maholm or Julio Teheran -- to the bullpen. The bullpen needs help after losing lefties Jonny Venters and Eric O'Flaherty to elbow injuries.

"We're real happy to get Beachy back and get him healthy and see where he is in the process of helping our club," Wren said. "At the end of the day, the decision is going to be based on what's best for our team. That's really the only factor."

The Braves lead the NL East and the performance of the starters has been a key to Atlanta's success. Braves starting pitchers rank third in the majors with their 3.40 ERA and they've also been durable, ranking fourth in the majors with their 410 innings.

Maholm can become a free agent after the season, making him perhaps the most probable trade candidate in the rotation. But Wren said he's not expecting a trade so early in the season.

RAYS: AL Cy Young Award winner David Price has taken another step toward rejoining the Tampa Bay rotation by pitching in his first simulated game since going on the disabled list on May 16 because of a strained left triceps.

The lefty is expected to start a minor league rehab assignment next week and could return to the majors in late June or early July.

RANGERS: Joakim Soria is scheduled to throw live batting practice Friday.

Soria was recovering from elbow ligament-replacement surgery when the Rangers signed the two-time All-Star from Kansas City to a two-year contract last winter.

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