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The Strike Zone

Braves' Kris Medlen has ligament damage in pitching elbow

Kris Medlen made 31 starts last season, posting a 3.11 ERA in 197 innings with 157 strikeouts. (Alex Brandon/AP)Kris Medlen made 31 starts last season, posting a 3.11 ERA in 197 innings with 157 strikeouts. (Alex Brandon/AP)

Back on Sunday, Braves starter Kris Medlen left a spring start against the Mets with what looked like a serious injury to his right arm. The immediate fears were that Medlen had blown out his elbow, and the team held its breath as he underwent an MRI exam. Tuesday, the results were revealed by Braves general manager Frank Wren: Medlen had suffered some damage to the ulnar collateral ligament, but the team doesn't know if he will have to undergo Tommy John surgery.

"The MRI does show some involvement with the ligament,” Wren said. “We don’t know the extent yet. He’s going to have continued test and he’s probably going to have a second opinion. So for us to put  a complete diagnosis on it now would be premature."

Wren added that Medlen will be re-evaluated by Dr. James Andrews later in the week.

What complicates matters for Medlen is that he's already undergone Tommy John surgery, back in August 2010, as performed by Dr. Andrews. The procedure can make future MRI imaging of the elbow difficult to see clearly, hence Atlanta's decision to have Medlen undergo another evaluation.

Though Medlen has, for now, avoided reconstructive surgery, it's unlikely he'll be ready to take the mound for the Braves any time soon. His injury is another blow to an Atlanta rotation currently losing starters by the day; Mike Minor is dealing with shoulder soreness and may not be ready in time for the start of the season, and Brandon Beachy left his last spring start early because of soreness in his biceps, though the team is less concerned about Beachy's status.

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