Atlanta Braves catcher Brian McCann (16) congratulates Braves relief pitcher Cory Gearrin after the Braves defeated the New York Mets 11-3 in a baseball game on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2012, at Citi Field in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek)
LAWRENCEVILLE -- This time a year ago, Cory Gearrin opted out of the Class AAA All-Star game in favor of resting his arm for the season's second half.
But unlike last year, the past month for Gearrin has been more about his lack of innings rather than his overuse.
A staple out of the Atlanta Braves bullpen for the first month and a half of the season, the side-armed righty turned in a bad outing on May 26 against the Mets in his 27th appearance and over the next month-plus appeared just 10 times. The Braves optioned the 27-year-old to Class AAA Gwinnett on Friday morning in favor of Luis Ayala, who has been on the disabled list with an "anxiety disorder" related to low blood pressure since April 30. To make room for Gearrin in Gwinnett, the Braves released the struggling Cole McCurry.
"Actually, I feel pretty good about how my season has gone so far and the work I was able to get in, especially early on," said Gearrin, who didn't allow a run in his first 13 appearances, spanning 11 innings. "I wasn't getting a lot of work in this last month, so I am not really sure exactly where to go from that."
The outing on May 26, where he allowed three runs off four hits and hit a batter in his only loss of the year, ballooned a sub-2.00 ERA to 3.20. Then, in June, he had two more rough appearances allowing four runs in of an inning to the Dodgers and two more four days later in a two-inning appearance against the San Diego Padres. But even with sporadic work through the rest of June and into July, he allowed two total runs in five outings.
But, no matter the reasons, Gearrin finds himself back in the G-Braves bullpen. In typical Gearrin fashion, he returns without complaint.
"I am excited to get back here and get my feet back under me and get throwing consistently again and, hopefully, get back up and help the major league team soon," he said. "I am excited to be getting back on a schedule where I can, if not every day, every couple of days, to be able to throw. Obviously, you want to be in the major leagues, but this is where I am at and I'll do everything I can to get back there."
Of any pitcher, Gearrin knows the back-and-forth game. A member of the Atlanta Braves postseason roster in 2012, Gearrin bounced to and from Gwinnett and Atlanta seven times last season. His final call-up didn't come until the rosters expanded in September.
"I think you have to be realistic," he said. "In this game, as a player, where you are playing is not entirely in your control. I think you have to be positive and at the end of the day I am playing baseball. That's what I want to do, whether it's here or in Atlanta. I am playing for the Atlanta Braves organization and I want to do what's best to help that major league team win."
In the first two month, he certainly did that. He had an ERA of 1.46 in 14 appearances in April and a 2.13 ERA in 16 appearances in May. He had two wins and a save in the span.
Gearrin brings a plan with him to the G-Braves. A plan and a positive attitude.
"I love to throw, I love to play, it's fun to help the team win," Gearrin said. "They've got a great team up there now and being able to be a part of everything going on and getting in to help the team win games that's where you want to be, that's what you want to be doing.
"We have a great group of guys here just like we do in Atlanta and I am going to enjoy my time here."