AP Sports Writer
ATLANTA — Braves right-hander Mike Foltynewicz said Monday he hopes to be cleared this week to throw off a mound as he continues his recovery from life-threatening blood clots in his right shoulder.
Foltynewicz said Monday he has lost about 20 pounds since surgery to remove part of a rib under the shoulder. His 2015 season ended in September when the blood clots were discovered and he was placed on blood-thinning medicine.
Even if he is taken off the medication this week and given clearance to start throwing off a mound, Foltynewicz could have difficulty being ready for the start of the season. He said he is about two weeks behind other pitchers in his throwing program.
Foltynewicz said he learned his condition is not unusual for athletes.
“They said it happens a lot because you build your shoulder muscles up so much … it just crushes the blood vessels,” he said.
“Luckily they found it. It was life-threatening. I could have had a stroke on the airplane on the next trip. It was kind of scary to go through.”
He said surgeons removed half of the rib under the shoulder.
The 6-foot-5 Foltynewicz said he now weighs 209 pounds, down from 226. He looked noticeably thinner as he spoke with reporters at the Turner Field clubhouse following a workout. He said he threw from about 120 feet on Monday and is behind other pitchers who already are throwing off a mound.
He won’t be cleared to start throwing at full strength until he is taken off the blood thinners.
“Knock on wood, I’m not that far pushed back,” he said. “It might be a couple weeks.”
Foltynewicz, 24, is one of several candidates for one of the last two spots in Atlanta’s rotation behind Julio Teheran, Bud Norris and Matt Wisler.
“For everybody else, let’s see what happens,” said manager Fredi Gonzalez on Saturday. “… I feel we have a lot of candidates.”
Among others expected to compete for rotation spots: Williams Perez, Manny Banuelos, Ryan Weber, former Rockies starter Jhoulys Chacin, former Phillies and Rockies starter Kyle Kendrick and rookies Tyrell Jenkins, Sean Newcomb and Aaron Blair.
Newcomb and Blair were big names added in offseason deals that sent shortstop Andrelton Simmons to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and Shelby Miller to the Arizona Diamondbacks, respectively.
The Braves’ push to add young pitching may make it more difficult for Foltynewicz to keep pace, especially as he works to regain strength he lost during his period of inactivity following the surgery.
“Trying to get it back is tough,” he said, adding his weight loss makes him feel “all my hard work is out the door.”
The hard-throwing Foltynewicz was 4-6 with a 5.71 ERA in 18 games, including 15 starts, in 2015. He was traded to the Braves on Jan. 14, 2015 as part of the deal that sent catcher-outfielder Evan Gattis to Houston.
Foltynewicz was a first-round pick by the Astros in 2010.