PHILADELPHIA -- Braves reliever Jonny Venters created some concern when he experienced left elbow discomfort just one week after coming off the disabled list. But since getting a chance to rest his elbow for another week, the 27-year-old has been encouraged by the way his left arm has felt.
"It really made a big difference, the ball is coming out as good as it has the whole year," Venters said. "It feels really good. I'm excited about it."
Venters ended his week-long absence when he entered Sunday's game against the Astros in the sixth inning with one out and runners at second and third base. He kept the game tied with a three-pitch strikeout of Matt Downs and by inducing an inning-ending groundout off J.D. Martinez's bat.
"It seemed like earlier this year when I was in that situation, I didn't get the job done very often," Venters said. "To go out there and get two righties out was definitely a confidence builder. Having my arm feel good and then feel good the next day was big."
It has been a trying year for Venters, who had combined to produce a 1.89 ERA in 164 appearances the previous two years. After going through April without allowing a run, he endured a 31-game stretch in which he produced a 6.08 ERA and allowed opponents to compile a .440 on-base percentage.
In the five appearances Venters has made since coming off the disabled list, he has completed 4 2/3 scoreless innings and gained the sense that he once again has his normal arm strength. His patented hard sinker hit 95 mph during Sunday's outing against the Astros.
"I know I picked up the ball [on Tuesday] and it felt great," Venters said. "Hopefully it will continue to feel good and I can finish the season strong."
In 11th season, Ross notches first stolen base
PHILADELPHIA -- It took 636 games and four attempts spread over 11 seasons. But when Braves catcher David Ross retires, he will now have the opportunity to say that he recorded at least one stolen base in his career.
Ross' memorable moment occurred during the seventh inning of Wednesday night's 12-6 win against the Phillies. With Paul Janish at the plate attempting to add to a four-run Braves lead, Ross took advantage of Josh Lindblom's slow delivery and benefited from the element of surprise as he stole second base.
With some assistance from Braves starting catcher Brian McCann, Ross was able to secure the second-base bag. He said he will proudly display it inside his family residence in Florida.
"It's a stolen base, and I'm going to have it in my house so that everybody knows that I at least have one," Ross said. "I'm pretty proud of it and I got a pretty good jump, that's for sure."
Former Braves manager Russ Nixon and the Astros' Chris Snyder are the only catchers since 1900 to play more than 636 games without recording a stolen base.
Ross playfully admitted that he thought about raising the second-base bag in the air after he completed the steal.
"I actually thought about it, I really did," Ross said. "But it was still a tight game and I've got to keep my professionalism. I was really excited. I was really happy."
Minor impresses Fredi with his moxie
PHILADELPHIA -- Mike Minor might not have gained the result he was seeking during Tuesday night's 3-0 loss to the Phillies, but the young left-hander still impressed Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez with the poise he showed after encountering some first-inning trouble.
Minor faced a three-run deficit with just one out in the first inning. But instead of folding, the 24-year-old battled through some command problems and did not allow the Phillies another run in his seven-inning effort.
"Earlier in the year, in April or May, that game gets out of hand," Gonzalez said. "He gives up eight and we've got to go to the bullpen and use three guys to get through the game. But he stayed in the game, stayed in the fight and gave us seven innings and really a chance to win the game."
When Minor allowed at least six runs in five of his first eight starts this year, he displayed some of the inexperience expected from a pitcher who entered this season with just 23 career starts. Fortunately for the Braves, they remained patient and are now reaping the benefits.
Minor has produced a 2.13 ERA and limited opponents to a .189 batting average in his past six starts. Four of the five home runs he has allowed during that span have been solo home runs. In fact, 17 of the National League-high 23 home runs he has allowed have been solo shots.
With the Braves set to play 20 consecutive days beginning on Friday, catcher Brian McCann got a chance to rest during Wednesday night's series finale against the Phillies. With the benefit of Thursday's off-day, McCann will have a chance to enter this long stretch with some extra energy.
Former Braves reliever Gene Garber, who resides in Pennsylvania, visited the team before Wednesday's game against the Phillies.
Jason Heyward will celebrate his 23rd birthday on Thursday.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.