Hamels cleared for first live batting practice

September 5th, 2020

ATLANTA -- has finally been cleared to throw live batting practice for the first time this year. What he might be able to offer the Braves will be determined by how he progresses over this season’s final few weeks.

Hamels will throw live batting practice at Truist Park on Sunday afternoon. This is a step in the right direction for the veteran left-hander, who missed Spring Training with a shoulder ailment and then developed left triceps tendinitis a week into Summer Camp.

“He’ll throw a couple of live BPs and then we’ll see where we’re at,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “Hopefully, he’s in line to pitch some innings.”

Hamels will rest at least a couple of days between his live bullpen sessions, then he will possibly be cleared to begin building innings a few days later. So he likely won’t begin pitching in game settings until next weekend, which is two weeks shy of the season finale.

Still, while there will be limited time to prepare, the Braves are keeping open the possibility Hamels could become an asset down the stretch or during the postseason, if Atlanta reaches it. The 36-year-old hurler might make some of his preparations in games during the regular season's final two weeks.

“It is what it is,” Snitker said. “The [2020 season] is something different than we’ve ever experienced. We’re just looking to get through a couple live BPs and see how he is.”

Albies update
Ozzie Albies will take batting practice for a third straight day at Truist Park on Sunday, then he will possibly begin playing simulated games at the Braves’ alternate training site at Coolray Field in Gwinnett, Ga.

Albies has been sidelined since Aug. 5 with a right wrist bone contusion. If all goes well over the next few days, the second baseman could be activated from the injured list on Wednesday or Thursday.

Freeman’s reaction
It turns out, Freddie Freeman did know how close he was getting to passing Sammy Sosa’s all-time record for having the most home runs to begin a career without a grand slam.

“Whew,” Freeman said. “Just in the nick of time. I’ve been told many times about not having any grand slams and what number I was coming up to.”

For those who might have missed it, Freeman tallied 232 home runs before hitting his first grand slam in Friday’s loss to the Nationals. Sosa set the record when he homered 246 times before tallying his first home run with the bases loaded.

“I got some nice text messages from Chipper [Jones], if you could imagine what nice means,” Freeman said, laughing about the ribbing he got from friends and teammates.

Childhood Cancer Awareness
As part of an effort to raise awareness of and to fight childhood cancer, MLB and the Braves donated 100 club-logoed Starlight Hospital Gowns to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. These high-quality and brightly colored gowns will be given to children undergoing treatment.

The Braves also had pediatric cancer survivor Josh Mack sing the national anthem before Saturday night’s game against the Nationals. Mack was diagnosed with lymphoblastic leukemia at 7 years old and was cancer-free by the time he turned 10. Edward Page, a 7-year-old fighting neuroblastoma, was given the honor of saying “Play ball!” before the first pitch.

For the fifth consecutive year, MLB and its clubs raised awareness for childhood cancer during all games on Saturday for a special league-wide day in home ballparks. MLB’s “Childhood Cancer Awareness Day,” held during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in collaboration with Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C), combined a visual and ceremonial demonstration of support for the cause with outreach to local hospitals treating young patients in their communities. Childhood cancer is the leading cause of death by disease among children in the United States and Canada.

The Braves joined all on-field personnel, including players, coaches and umpires around baseball in wearing gold ribbon decals and wristbands during Saturday's game against the Nationals. Clubs also featured ceremonial activities in ballparks. Club activities included pregame ceremonies, cardboard cutouts of pediatric patients in stands at ballparks, virtual patient first pitches, virtual player hospital visits and more.

Childhood cancer awareness efforts in previous seasons have included special pediatric cancer awareness batting-practice T-shirts, online campaigns to empower fans to hold fundraisers for pediatric cancer research and donations to local children’s hospitals. MLB and its clubs have supported the fight against cancer through a variety of initiatives for many years. As Stand Up To Cancer’s founding donor, Major League Baseball has pledged more than $50 million to SU2C’s collaborative cancer research programs, providing invaluable support. Launched in 2013, the work of the Stand Up To Cancer/St. Baldrick’s Foundation Pediatric Cancer Dream Team has helped to develop new immunotherapy approaches and contributed to the development of two new treatments for difficult-to-treat pediatric leukemias that have been approved by the FDA. MLB has recognized SU2C at its jewel events since the '09 World Series.