ATLANTA -- Peter Moylan has spent the past couple of weeks hoping to avoid another back surgery. But as his lower back discomfort has persisted, the Braves have had to look at the possibility this is something their valuable right-handed reliever can't avoid.
Moylan didn't provide details after visiting with a doctor early Wednesday morning. But as he gingerly walked through the Braves' clubhouse before Wednesday afternoon's doubleheader against the Brewers, it was quite obvious that he is still feeling significant discomfort in his lower back.
An MRI exam performed two weeks ago showed he has a bulging disc in his back.
While there was hope that Moylan could return soon, there's certainly a possibility he'll need to undergo a season-ending surgical procedure. It appeared he is attempting to get multiple opinions and then weigh his options.
Moylan underwent back surgeries while playing what amounted to recreational baseball in Australia in 2001 and '03. The sidearm delivery that helped him get noticed in the 2006 World Baseball Classic was a product of attempts to lessen strain on his back.
If Moylan is unable to return, the Braves might ask Scott Proctor to fill the void once he is eligible to join their roster on May 15. Proctor struggled in Spring Training and was released. But he quickly re-signed with the Braves and has since prospered while working with Triple-A Gwinnett pitching coach Marty Reed.
Proctor has allowed two earned runs in 12 innings for Gwinnett and limited opponents to a .205 batting average this year. The 34-year-old right-hander combined for 166 appearances for the Dodgers and Yankees during the 2006 and '07 seasons.
Freeman won't use cold as excuse for slump
ATLANTA -- As a congested Freddie Freeman prepared for Wednesday's doubleheader against the Brewers, he used a somewhat frustrated tone while explaining that he has been bothered by a head cold for nearly three weeks.
But Freeman quickly added that his recent offensive woes have nothing to do with his health. The mature 21-year-old Braves first baseman instead believes he is simply in the midst of one of those stretches that rookies and seasoned veterans are bound to experience at some point in the season.
"You've just got to stick to it and not change anything," Freeman said. "You've got to stick to your own plan. If it worked before, it will work again."
Freeman entered Wednesday's doubleheader having hit .097 (3-for-31) with two doubles in his previous eight games. This rough patch came immediately after the highly-regarded rookie first baseman had recorded three mulit-hit performances in a span of four games.
"I feel great on the field and comfortable," Freeman said. "I just need to keep swinging it. Hopefully they'll fall sometime. I'll just keep catching them over at first base until the hitting starts."
Freeman's good friend Jason Heyward also struggled through a 3-for-31 skid in April. Since then, the 21-year-old Braves right fielder has hit .341 (14-for-41) with three homers and two doubles.
Gearrin focused on present, not future
ATLANTA -- When Cory Gearrin didn't make an appearance in the first three days after getting his first call to the Majors on April 22, he wasn't sure whether he would get a chance to actually pitch for the Braves. But with uncertainty regarding Peter Moylan's return from the disabled list, Gearrin could quickly become a key member in Atlanta's bullpen.
"I try to keep it in perspective and take it day to day," Gearrin said. "That's all really anybody can do. Today's game is really all we have. If I can go out and do my job and help the team win, then I'm doing what I'm here to do."
Moylan was still walking quite gingerly as he made his way around the Braves' clubhouse Wednesday afternoon. The valuable veteran reliever didn't disclose any specific details after a doctor visit he had a few hours earlier. An MRI exam performed two weeks ago showed his lower back discomfort is a product of a bulging disc.
Without Moylan, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez has been giving opportunities to other relievers like Gearrin, who was perfect in his first two career appearances and then encountered some trouble during his two appearances against the Cardinals this past weekend.
Gonzalez had enough confidence in Gearrin to insert him into Friday night's 10th inning with the heart of the Cardinals' lineup due up. The 25-year-old right-hander responded by completing a perfect inning against Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman.
Still, Gearrin said one of the most memorable moments of his young Major League career was created just before he threw the first pitch of his career on April 25 in San Diego.
"I've played with these guys in Spring Training, but it's not the same as a regular season game," Gearrin said. "The first time they throw the ball around and Chip gave me the ball back, I was like 'Chipper Jones just threw me the ball.' I'm pitching and this guy is at the corner for me. That was pretty sweet. I don't know if that's ever going to go away."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.