Wren said Braves orthopedist Dr. Xavier Duralde on Friday found “ligament involvement” in Gearrin’s elbow. Wren said the right-hander will see Dr. James Andrews next week for a second opinion and a “definite diagnosis.”
Clearly, the Braves have braced for bad news.
“I think he has a significant injury,” Wren said.
It is another blow to a Braves staff that already has lost starting pitchers Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy this spring to their second Tommy John surgeries.
“We’ve kind of eaten through our depth,” Wren said. “It looked like we were in pretty good shape coming into spring training with some guys about to get healthy and all of a sudden the next thing you know we’re pretty thin.”
Gearrin was placed on the disabled list on Saturday and left-hander Ryan Buchter was recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett.
Gearrin, a reliever, left Tuesday’s spring training game against Detroit with what was described as an elbow sprain.
Wren attempted to address the injuries to Medlen and Beachy by signing Ervin Santana and Aaron Harang this month. Still, the staff will be especially thin for the start of the season as Santana continues to work into form and Mike Minor and Gavin Floyd recover from injuries.
Minor, who pitched in an exhibition game against top Braves minor leaguers Saturday, will open the season on the disabled list as he recovers from a sore shoulder. Floyd is recovering from surgery in May to repair the ulnar collateral ligament and a torn flexor muscle in his right elbow.
The Braves hope Minor and Floyd can join the rotation by late April. Santana is expected to be ready by mid-April.
Gearrin was 2-1 with a 3.77 ERA and one save in 37 games with Atlanta in 2013, his first full season in the majors. He was expected to serve in a setup role for closer Craig Kimbrel.
The Braves return Luis Avilan, David Carpenter, Anthony Varvaro and Jordan Walden as veteran relievers but now may have more youth than expected in the bullpen.
“We always find a way to do it and get over it,” manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “Somebody else will step up. I have the confidence in our club that they’ll overcome that.”
Wren said Gearrin’s injury forced him to look for more outside help.
“We have been watching very closely other moves to see if there was someone who could upgrade us or someone who could help us and we haven’t seen anyone we felt were better than the pitchers we have,” Wren said.
The Braves released veteran Freddy Garcia before signing Harang. Wren said the team was not considering re-signing Garcia.
Wren said the Braves are not the only team having to adjust to injuries.
“When I look around baseball there’s a lot of us like this,” Wren said. “It’s just one of those springs and there’s not a lot you can do about it.”