Free agent right-hander Ervin Santana signed a one-year, $14 million deal with Atlanta on March 12.
Santana was added one day after general manager Frank Wren said Medlen, the projected Opening Day starter, was set for a second opinion to determine the extent of ligament damage in his pitching arm.
Santana, 31, was a popular name on the market during spring training. After going 9-10 with a 3.24 ERA with the Kansas City Royals in 2013, Santana considered signing with the Toronto Blue Jays or Baltimore Orioles.
Interest in Santana didn't meet his contract expectations when free agency began in November.
Medlen told reporters on March 12 that he is preparing himself for Tommy John elbow ligament replace surgery. He had the procedure once previously.
Medlen left the mound in obvious discomfort after throwing a pitch in the fourth inning of his third spring start March 9, and an MRI the next day revealed a ligament injury.
The right-hander was to be examined further, and he likely will see Dr. James Andrews, who performed his elbow reconstruction surgery in 2010.
"The MRI does show some involvement with the ligament," Braves general manager Frank Wren said. "We don't know the extent yet. He's going to have continued tests, and he's probably going to have a second opinion, so for us to put a complete diagnosis on it now would be premature."
The loss of Medlen for the season would be a major blow to a rotation already without right-hander Tim Hudson, who signed as a free agent with the San Francisco Giants, and beset by other uncertainties.
Right-hander Brandon Beachy, coming off 2012 Tommy John surgery, had an elbow cleanup procedure last September, and he has battled arm tightness this spring. He cut his third spring start short after two innings March 10, and he will miss his next scheduled outing.
In addition, left-hander Mike Minor has not pitched in a spring game yet after experiencing shoulder discomfort early in camp.
That leaves right-hander Julio Teheran, third in National League Rookie of the Year voting last season, as the top starter by default going into the season.
Minor isn't likely to be ready to join the rotation until mid-April, and Beachy, who has not had his normal velocity, is also a question mark for the start of the season. Others in the mix for rotation spots are veteran right-hander Freddy Garcia and two youngsters, left-hander Alex Wood and right-hander David Hale.
Right-hander Gavin Floyd, signed as a free agent, is coming off Tommy John surgery and won't be available until late May or June.
Medlen is 24-12 with a 2.47 ERA in 44 games since moving into the Braves' rotation after the 2012 All-Star break. Only Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw has a better ERA among major league starters in that time span.
--RHP Julio Teheran pitched four perfect innings against the Philadelphia Phillies on March 11, striking out three. He hadn't allowed a run over nine innings in three spring starts. He had eight strikeouts to one walk while allowing six hits. Teheran was 14-8 with a 3.20 ERA last year, and he finished third in the National League Rookie of the Year balloting.
--RF Jason Heyward hit a leadoff homer off Philadelphia LHP Cliff Lee on March 10 to cap a streak of six hits in as many at-bats. It was Heyward's second homer during the streak and his third of the spring. He followed that by going 2-for-2 with a walk against the Phillies the next day, and he was batting .379 through his first 11 spring games.
--2B Dan Uggla hit home runs in consecutive games March 10-11 against Philadelphia, both no-doubt blasts. Uggla, who slumped to a .179 average last season, added a single in the second game to raise his spring average to .318. He had six walks and eight strikeouts in Grapefruit League action.
--CF B.J. Upton had two hits against Philadelphia on March 10, making him 7-for-22 in his past seven games. However, his only extra-base hits this spring were two doubles, and he had eight strikeouts in 28 plate appearances. Upton, who was batting .269 for the spring, is trying to bounce back after hitting just .184 last season. He adjusted his batting stance.
--C Gerald Laird returned March 7 after missing a week because of back spasms. He felt something during his first at-bat of the spring against Detroit on Feb. 27 and left after catching the bottom of the inning at Lakeland, Fla.
--RHP Zach Stewart was acquired from the Chicago White Sox for cash considerations on March 10 and will supply organizational pitching depth at Triple-A Gwinnett. Stewart, 27, has appeared in 33 major league games, going 3-10 with a 6.82 ERA for the Blue Jays, Red Sox and White Sox in 2011-12. He spent all of last season at Triple-A Charlotte, where he was 6-14 with a 4.25 ERA in 28 starts.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I'm not worried at all about it. I've seen the doctor, and they've done everything. My ligament is fine. I've got some inflammation in there, and it got a little too tight in my biceps. It was just unproductive to keep pushing and fighting through it." -- RHP Brandon Beachy, who left his March 10 start with the ailment. He was expected to miss one turn in the rotation.
LHP Mike Minor
RHP Julio Teheran
RHP Ervin Santana
RHP Brandon Beachy
RHP Freddy Garcia or LHP Alex Wood or RHP David Hale
The Braves do not have a true ace and Tim Hudson's experience will be missed, but the rotation is much more a strength than a weakness. RHP Kris Medlen is likely out due to an arm injury, and Santana was signed in mid-March to replace him. Minor and Teheran are all coming off good seasons, with Teheran flashing brilliance at times as a rookie. The rotation had the sixth-best ERA in majors last season despite losing Hudson for the final two months.
The Braves are counting on a return to health by Beachy after two elbow surgeries. They hope to get a boost by May or June from RHP Gavin Floyd, a free agent signee coming off Tommy John surgery. When Floyd is ready to go, the Braves could move Wood back to the bullpen.
RHP Craig Kimbrel (closer)
LHP Luis Avilan
RHP Jordan Walden
RHP David Carpenter
RHP Anthony Varvaro
LPH Jonny Venters
Kimbrel was the top closer in baseball over his first full three seasons, saving 138 games while striking out 381 and allowing just 123 hits in 227 1/3 career innings. Best yet, the Braves were able to lock him up long term, with Kimbrel agreeing to a record deal for a non-free agent reliever just before he was to appear at an arbitration hearing. It guarantees Kimbrel $42 million over the next four seasons, including a $13 million option for 2018. The rest of the bullpen is also solid, as shown by the best ERA in the major again last season. The Braves, though, would have liked to have added another veteran. Carpenter, claimed off waivers, was a surprise last season and has the power arm that team's crave. Avilan is the only healthy lefty going into camp, but the Braves hope to Venters available early in the first half.
1. RF Jason Heyward
2. LF Justin Upton
3. 1B Freddie Freeman
4. C Evan Gattis
5. 3B Chris Johnson
6. CF B.J. Upton
7. SS Andrelton Simmons
8. 2B Dan Uggla or Ramiro Pena
The Braves, once loaded with left-handed hitters, now have a heavily right-handed lineup with the loss of C Brian McCann to free agency. The big problem, though, is the lack of a true leadoff hitter and the uncertainty of bounce-back years from B.J. Upton and Uggla, who were both dismal in 2013.
Gattis, backed up by Ryan Doumit and Gerald Laird, will take over regular duties for McCann and hopes to build off a strong power season as a rookie. CF Jordan Schafer is available to spell B.J. Upton and gives the Braves another leadoff option. The versatile Pena and 2B Tyler Pastornicky give the Braves options if Uggla struggles again.
The Braves remain solid defensively, with Simmons likely a Gold Glove winner year after year.
TOP ROOKIES: RHP David Hale allowed just one run and struck out 14 over 11 innings in his first two major league games last September and gives the Braves rotation depth. RHP Luis Vasquez, coming of an impressive winter in the Dominican Republic, is a bullpen candidate after signing as a minor league free agent. C Christian Bethancourt is expected to start the season with Triple-A Gwinnett, but is considered the Braves top position prospect. Right behind him is 2B Tommy LaStella, who hit .343 last season with Double-A Mississippi.
--RHP Kris Medlen (sore right elbow) was hurt March 9, and an MRI exam March 10 showed a ligament injury. He was to undergo further tests and likely get a second opinion as he faces the possibility of a second Tommy John surgery.
--RHP Brandon Beachy (right biceps inflammation) left his March 10 start. He was expected to miss one turn in the rotation.
--LHP Mike Minor (left shoulder soreness) was cleared to throw off a mound in early March. It is unclear is he will be ready to open the season in the rotation.
--LHP Jonny Venters (Tommy John surgery in May 2013) was cleared to throw off a mound in early March. He hopes to join the bullpen after missing just the first month or so of the season.
--RHP Gavin Floyd (Tommy John surgery in May 2013) was cleared to throw live batting practice in early March. He is targeting a May return.
--2B Tyler Pastornicky (left ACL surgery in August 2013) had not appeared in a Grapefruit League game through March 11. He still hoped to be ready for Opening Day.
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- Tommy John surgery
- Kris Medlen
- Brandon Beachy
- Ervin Santana
- Atlanta Braves