The Braves know they will have to open the season without Jonny Venters in their bullpen. They don't know yet how long he will be missing, though.
Both the Braves and Venters are hoping for the best.
The left-handed reliever will visit noted sports surgeon Dr. James Andrews on April 3 -- the first available date because of the Easter holiday. Andrews performed Tommy John elbow surgery on the pitcher in 2006.
Venters had to leave a game against Detroit on March 26 because of what the Braves called an elbow sprain. He said he didn't hear a pop and that is often the case with a ligament tear.
The 28-year-old spent time on the disabled list last season with a sore elbow, but pitched well after returning.
Since joining the Braves in 2010, Venters has appeared in 230 games. The only pitcher with more appearances is Cincinnati's Sean Marshall with 231.
Jordan Walden, acquired from the Los Angeles Angels in a winter trade for Tommy Hanson, helps compensate some for the loss of Venters. Eric O'Flaherty and Luis Avilan still give the Braves two left-handers to complement closer Craig Kimbrel.
Venters posted a 1.59 ERA over 164 appearances in his first two seasons, but struggled early last season before going on the disabled list. He finished with a 5-4 record and 3.33 ERA in 66 games.