Braves add Almonte to mix in left field

May 31st, 2021

ATLANTA -- Three days later, the Braves have opted to fill their left-field void with an actual outfielder.

Before Monday’s series opener against the Nationals, the Braves selected the contract of from Triple-A Gwinnett and optioned right-handed reliever Jay Flaa to Gwinnett. Right-handed pitcher Huascar Ynoa was transferred to the 60-day injured list to create a 40-man roster spot for Almonte.

“The reports were that the guy is locked in,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “He’s hot. We haven’t been playing and [Gwinnett] has. It kind of sticks out that we go ahead and give this guy an opportunity.”

This was the move that seemingly made the most sense when the Braves placed Marcell Ozuna (fractured fingers) on the injured list on Friday. But instead of adding Almonte and transferring Ynoa, who will be out until the second half of August with a fractured right hand, the team recalled Johan Camargo.

It was assumed the reasoning may have been to avoid putting Almonte on a commercial flight. The Braves are more than 85 percent vaccinated. Still, sacrificing three potential days of availability by remaining cautious would have made sense.

But Snitker indicated the club just wanted Almonte to play three more days for Gwinnett. This proved to be a good move considering two of Atlanta’s three games in New York this past weekend were rained out.

Almonte started in left field and batted sixth in Monday’s game. The 31-year-old outfielder hit .403 with three homers and a 1.167 OPS in 83 plate appearances for Gwinnett. He has compiled a .668 OPS in 376 career games dating back to his 2013 debut for the Mariners.

The Braves now have the option to place the switch-hitting Almonte in left field on a daily basis. But Snitker said he wouldn’t commit to putting anybody in an everyday role at the position. In other words, Guillermo Heredia, Ender Inciarte or Ehire Adrianza could also see time in left.

Greene pushed back
Shane Greene’s scheduled third appearance for Gwinnett was pushed from Sunday to Tuesday because of a sore back. Snitker said the discomfort is similar to what many players experience during the early days and weeks of Spring Training.

Greene remained a free agent until signing a one-year, $1.5 million deal with the Braves on May 9. He made his first appearance for Gwinnett on May 22 and hasn’t pitched for them since making a second straight scoreless appearance on Wednesday.

If Greene completes normal preseason preparations, he’ll likely make at least three more appearances. But Snitker has said there is no timetable for the veteran reliever to join Atlanta’s bullpen.