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Fried's hand injury overshadows tough loss

Lefty exits after comebacker hits hand; X-rays negative
@mlbbowman
May 8, 2019

LOS ANGELES -- As Braves manager Brian Snitker digested Tuesday night’s 9-0 loss to the Dodgers, he wasn’t dwelling on Hyun-Jin Ryu’s masterpiece or the three homers Justin Turner had hit. Instead, he was thankful Max Fried had seemingly avoided a significant left hand injury. But at the same time,

LOS ANGELES -- As Braves manager Brian Snitker digested Tuesday night’s 9-0 loss to the Dodgers, he wasn’t dwelling on Hyun-Jin Ryu’s masterpiece or the three homers Justin Turner had hit.

Instead, he was thankful Max Fried had seemingly avoided a significant left hand injury. But at the same time, he was thinking about how the talented young starter’s early exit might affect his rotation and bullpen plans over the remainder of this week.

Box score

“When you get hit in the hand, there’s all those little bones in there,” Snitker said. “He escapes that and that’s a really good thing. The preliminary tests were real encouraging. So, we might have dodged a bullet.”

There was certainly cause for concern when the meaty portion of Fried’s left hand was struck by Alex Verdugo’s line drive to start the second inning. The southpaw felt little strength as he attempted to throw a pair of warmup pitches before heading to the clubhouse, where he felt relief when X-rays showed no signs of a fracture.

“It’s just a little sore, but it’s a lot better than I was expecting,” Fried said. “I obviously got really lucky.”

The Braves will almost certainly need to promote a pitcher to account for the fact Josh Tomlin provided four valuable innings of relief. But it’s too early to know whether Fried will be ready to take his next scheduled turn in Sunday’s series finale against the D-backs.

As Fried spoke to reporters after the game, his hand was still slightly swollen and there was evidence of the stitch marks that tattooed his hand when he was hit by Verdugo’s 85.5 mph liner. But he was holding out hope that the swelling would subside enough over the next few days to allow him to make that start in Arizona.

“We’re going to do everything in our power to go out and make that start,” Fried said. “We’ll see how the swelling is tomorrow.”

If Fried is not ready to make Sunday’s start, the Braves could opt to use Sean Newcomb, if he’s not needed out of the bullpen at some point within the next few days. Or they could opt to promote one of the current members of Triple-A Gwinnett’s rotation.

With Kyle Wright (Wednesday) and Touki Toussaint (Thursday) scheduled to start the next two games for Gwinnett, they are the most likely candidates to be promoted to serve as a long-relief option over the next few days. But because 10 days have not elapsed since he was optioned, Toussaint could only return if Fried or another player is placed on the injured list.

Bryse Wilson and Kolby Allard seem more likely to be promoted, only if they might be needed to start Sunday’s game. The Braves are currently saying they’re hopeful Fried might not miss a start, but they certainly aren’t going to take any chances with the young hurler, who had produced a 2.21 ERA through the six starts he made before being introduced to the Dodgers’ powerful lineup.

Turner began his three-homer game with a solo shot during the three-run first inning. Fried had surrendered two runs or less in five of his previous six starts. But this outing proved to be much different for the Southern California native who grew up a Dodgers fan. His first career start at Dodger Stadium was marred by the early exit and the inability to get an early feel for his curveball.

Just two of the eight curveballs he threw in the first inning resulted in a strike. This was not a good development for a guy who had relied on this pitch 28.5 percent of the time during his previous outings. Opponents have hit just .118 (4-for-34) against the pitch this season.

“It obviously didn’t go the way I wanted, especially after that first,” Fried said. “I wanted to settle in and get deep into that game. It’s frustrating. I just wasn’t executing my pitches in that first and it came back to bite me.”

Even if Fried had produced another strong start, he likely wouldn’t have matched Ryu, who needed just 93 pitches to complete a four-hit shutout. Tyler Flowers ended a perfect game bid with a single in the seventh and the Braves did not have a runner in scoring position until Josh Donaldson doubled with two outs in the ninth.

As Flowers praised Ryu’s ability to skillfully match his fastball and changeup, he too was giving thanks for the fact Fried will seemingly be ready to make his next start this weekend or at least at some point next week.

“He said he’s feeling alright, so that’s good to hear,” Flowers said. “Hopefully, it won’t be too long. He’s definitely one of our guys.”

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.