The Braves know that they will have to open the season on Monday without Jonny Venters in their bullpen. They still don't know how long he will be missing, though.
Both the Braves and Venters are hoping for the best.
The left-handed reliever will be visiting noted sports surgeon Dr. James Andrews on Wednesday -- the first available date. Andrews performed Tommy John elbow surgery on the pitcher in 2006.
Venters had to leave a game against Detroit on Tuesday because of what the Braves are calling 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 in that timespan is Cincinnati's Sean Marshall with 231.
With Venters headed to the disabled list, both Cristhian Martinez and Anthony Varvaro should get spots in the bullpen. Both are out of minor league options.
Jordan Walden, acquired from the Los Angeles Angels in a winter trade for Tommy Hanson, helps make up for the loss of Venters. Eric O'Flaherty and Luis Avilan still give the Braves two left-handers to compliment 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.
Maholm sharp again
Paul Maholm definitely looks ready to face Philadelphia in the second game of the season Wednesday.
The left-hander allowed two hits over four scoreless innings and Andrelton Simmons hit a home run as the Braves defeated Houston 2-0 on Thursday in their final game of the spring at Champion Stadium in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
Maholm finished the Grapefruit League season with 1.53 ERA and didn't allow an earned run over his last 24 innings. He struck out two and walked one against the Astros.
Walden and Varvro each pitched a perfect inning, with Walden striking out two. Kimbrel walked two in his hitless inning and fanned one.
Braves to play Future Stars
The Braves, who concluded Grapefruit League play with a 20-15 record, will play their final exhibition game Saturday at Class AA Mississippi against a Future Stars teams.
Mike Minor will start against Sean Gilmartin, who will likely be Class AAA Gwinnett's pitcher in its opener next Thursday against Charlotte. Minor is slated to pitch against the Chicago Cubs next Friday in the Braves' fourth game of the season.
Gwinnett outfielders Joey Terdoslavich and Todd Cunningham will play for the Future Stars. Also on the team is Ross Heffley. The second baseman will begin his first full season at Class A Advanced Lynchburg.