ATLANTA — A.J. Minter is back with the Atlanta Braves after a five-week stay at Triple-A Gwinnett, getting a chance to reclaim the job he lost as closer.
Atlanta recalled Minter on Tuesday to add another arm to its uncertain bullpen and placed starter Kevin Gausman on the injured list with plantar fasciitis.
Manager Brian Snitker said Minter improved his changeup and fastball command and added versatility by pitching multiple innings a couple of times in the minors. Luke Jackson remains the closer despite five blown saves in 14 chances.
Snitker said he planned to use Minter in a late-inning role. Minter went 0-4 with a 9.82 ERA and three saves in four opportunities, a span of 15 games, before he was sent down.
“He needed to back off the throttle a little bit, I think, at the time we sent him out,” Snitker said. “We knew it was going to be good for him.”
In nine games with Gwinnett, Minter was 0-1 with a 2.53 ERA. Minter missed most of spring training with left shoulder inflammation and returned from the injured list on April 4.
“He’s a young player who doesn’t have a whole lot to fall back on,” Snitker said. “I think spring training was important for him, and he missed it. He just never really got caught up — the arm strength, the whole thing. He throws hard, but he is a feel guy with his mechanics and all that. I think it was good. Hopefully. We’ll see.”
The Braves opened the season planning to use Minter as a left-handed closing option and Arodys Vizcaino from the right side. Vizcaino’s season ended in April because of right shoulder inflammation, and he was traded to Seattle the following month.
The Braves’ bullpen has a 4.26 ERA with 118 walks allowed in 243 innings.
Gausman began spring training as the team’s No. 2 starter, but he went 2-5 with a 6.21 ERA in 13 starts.
Snitker said he didn’t know yet who will take Gausman’s spot in the rotation.