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Kris Medlen Satisfied with Role in Atlanta Braves Bullpen

February 25th, 2012 at 12:31 AM
By Jonathan McCullough

In all likelihood, Kris Medlen will start the 2012 season as a member of the Atlanta Braves bullpen. While that is not the role he prefers, he fully accepts the job.

"I think I'm more of a security blanket in case 14 injuries [to starting pitchers] happen," Medlen said. "I keep getting asked what I want to do, and you obviously know the answer. But I know my role, which is to be a bullpen guy or a backup starter. I've accepted it and whatever. I'm ready to play baseball. That's pretty much it."

Medlen's 2010 campaign ended abruptly after he injured his elbow in August. He underwent Tommy John surgery and only made two relief appearances in 2011. 

Medlen has been successful as a starting pitcher, going 5-0 with a 3.86 ERA in 2010 before his elbow injury. However, he has been stellar out of the bullpen, posting a career 3.23 ERA. He can come in and pitch effectively at any point in the game. Furthermore, his ability to go multiple innings should prove very valuable, as it will allow manager Fredi Gonzalez to rest the Braves' big three in the bullpen (Craig Kimbrel, Jonny Venters, and Eric O'Flaherty).

Medlen pitches without fear, and his toughness and determination make him an excellent reliever. His grit was on full display on the last day of the season when he made just his second appearance of the year. He came into a bases-loaded situation in the ninth inning of a tie game and retired every batter he faced.

With the Braves' depth at starting pitcher, Medlen's desire to be a starter will have to be put on hold. He will undoubtedly be extremely valuable out of the bullpen, and he can serve as a spot starter should an injury or two occur. For now, Medlen is just happy to contribute.

"Everything has worked out for me in my career," Medlen said. "So I have no complaints or rights to say I shouldn't be doing this or anything like that. I'm going to keep busting my tail. That has gotten me to where I am now."

Tags: Atlanta, Atlanta Braves, Kris Medlen, MLB

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