Max Fried will make his spring debut on Wednesday, which will still give him enough time to potentially make a start during the Braves’ season-opening series in Philadelphia.
Braves manager Brian Snitker announced Fried will start Wednesday afternoon’s game against the Red Sox in Fort Myers, Fla. Fried’s scheduled debut was delayed last week because he was forced to quarantine for a couple days after potentially being exposed to COVID-19.
Fried will have time to make four or five Spring Training starts, depending on where the Braves opt to place him in their rotation.
If Charlie Morton is not the Braves’ Opening Day starter, Atlanta could give the honor to Fried if he were to make the last of four exhibition starts on March 25.
If the Braves want to give Fried five Spring Training starts, he could still be on track to make his first regular-season start on April 4, when Atlanta closes its season-opening three-game series in Philadelphia.
Ozzie Albies was scratched from the lineup about 40 minutes before the start of Tuesday’s game against the Pirates. The Braves announced the second baseman was dealing with a stiff neck.
Albies has gone 2-for-8 with a homer and two walks through the early portion of the Grapefruit League season. Atlanta hopes he’ll return to the lineup within the next couple of days.
One to forget
Drew Smyly escaped a first-inning threat and then proved unsuccessful in his attempt to retire any of the final seven Pirates he faced during the Braves' 10-1 loss on Tuesday at CoolToday Park. This was the second spring start for the veteran left-hander, who signed a one-year, $11 million contract on Nov. 16.
Smyly recorded three consecutive strikeouts after the Pirates opened the game with consecutive singles. But he issued a walk and allowed four consecutive singles before Braves manager Brian Snitker took advantage of this year’s rules by signaling for the end of the inning.
This year’s Spring Training protocols allow the defensive manager to end an inning prior to three outs following any completed plate appearance, provided the pitcher has thrown at least 20 pitches.
“As a competitor, you get frustrated when you’re giving up hits and not getting outs,” Smyly said. “It’s not fun. But you know the big picture is that these games don’t count. They’re just to get your pitch count up and to get your rhythm.”
Smyly returned for the third inning but promptly exited after allowing consecutive doubles to Ke’Bryan Hayes and Bryan Reynolds. He retired just three of the 12 batters he faced.
“My stuff was good,” Smyly said. “They weren’t really squaring it up or hitting it hard. They were just finding the holes. I just have to do a better job of getting in pitcher-friendly counts and putting them away when I get to two strikes.”
Mike Soroka will throw at least one more live batting practice session before he is cleared to make his first spring start. Soroka’s surgically repaired right Achilles hasn’t been a problem as he has thrown live BP three times and routinely thrown off a mound since late January.
“He looked good his last live BP,” Snitker said. “He looked good and felt good. I think there are just boxes for the training staff to check off. But everything is going good.”
Soroka, who tore his Achilles tendon on Aug. 3, has been completing fielding and some running exercises over the past couple weeks. But the 23-year-old hurler hasn’t yet been cleared to sprint or go max effort in all of these exercises.
While Soroka might not be ready at the start of the season, he could be cleared to join Atlanta’s rotation at some point in April.