No Surgery Needed For Kris Medlen --- At Least Not Yet.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Kris Medlen
Kris Medlen
- photo by Tim Evearitt

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The news about the injury to Kris Medlen is mixed. He realizes he has not completely escaped the danger zone. But for now, the Braves right-hander can continue to hope that he is able to avoid undergoing Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery for the second time in four years.

Results of an MRI exam performed Monday show some damage around the ulnar collateral ligament in Medlen's right elbow. But Braves general manager Frank Wren said Medlen will undergo further evaluation before the significance of the damage is determined.

Medlen's MRI results were complicated by the fact it is hard to produce a clear image of the ligament after a pitcher has already undergone one Tommy John surgery.

Medlen was preparing to speak to the media Tuesday when the club's medical staff learned an opportunity had arisen for him to undergo another evaluation. Consequently, Medlen had to leave before expressing his thoughts regarding the update.

Wren said he expects Medlen to be evaluated by Dr. James Andrews later this week. Andrews performed Tommy John surgery on Medlen on Aug. 18, 2010.

Medlen exited Sunday's start against the Mets with two outs in the fourth inning. The 28-year-old hurler grabbed his right elbow and walked toward second base after throwing his first pitch to Matt Clark, the final batter he faced. After throwing a wayward changeup with his next pitch, he walked directly toward the dugout before consulting with the team's medical personnel.

Medlen's reaction following Sunday's final pitch was similar to the one he had when he exited a start against the Mets on Aug. 4, 2010. He underwent surgery two weeks later and then endured a long rehab process that sidelined him until the final week of the 2011 regular season.

Since returning from that procedure, Medlen has established himself as one of the game's most underappreciated pitchers. He has produced a 2.46 ERA in the 43 starts he has made since becoming a mainstay in Atlanta's rotation on July 31, 2012. Clayton Kershaw (1.80) is the only other pitcher who has produced a lower ERA while making at least 40 starts during that span.

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