Markakis (fractured wrist), Swanson on IL
PHILADELPHIA -- The Braves placed two key contributors, right fielder Nick Markakis (fractured left wrist) and shortstop Dansby Swanson (right foot contusion), on the injured list Saturday.
Markakis sustained his injury after being hit by a 91-mph fastball in the sixth inning of Friday's victory against the Phillies. He underwent tests in Atlanta on Saturday morning that confirmed the fracture.
"There’s no surgery or anything like that involved, so it’s just going to be a matter of time to let the bone heal," manager Brian Snitker said. "Six to eight weeks, usually. I would say with a guy like that, if you give me an expected time, he’d probably beat it back. It is what it is, it’s just got to heal."
Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman had a similar injury in 2017, fracturing his left wrist after being hit by a 94-mph fastball. He returned to the lineup 48 days later. Though every injury obviously heals differently, that timeframe would take Markakis to mid-September.
As for Swanson, Snitker said he is optimistic the shortstop could return as soon as he is eligible next weekend against the Reds.
Markakis had played in all 104 games this season and was one of just seven players to play in all 162 last year, along with Freeman. Markakis had not missed a game since Sept. 27, 2017, and Saturday marked just the 12th game he has missed in five seasons with the Braves.
No player has played more games in the Majors over the last five seasons than Markakis (740).
"It’s pretty tough," Snitker said. "That’s what he is -- so reliable and dependable. He’s always right there. You don’t worry about him. He shows up, he prepares, he trains, and he comes to play. He’s a special guy. He’s special on this team, guys look up to him and how he carries himself."
The club recalled outfielder Adam Duvall from Triple-A Gwinnett to take Markakis' spot on the active roster. Duvall started in left field Saturday against the Phillies, while Ronald Acuna Jr. slid over to take Markakis' place in right and Ender Inciarte started in center. Atlanta has three other outfielders on the active roster in Charlie Culberson, Matt Joyce and Austin Riley.
In past years, the Braves could have tried out those options with the potential to acquire a player at the non-waiver Deadline before the end of August. With this year's rule change, however, there is only one Trade Deadline, meaning any external candidates would need to be added by Wednesday's Deadline, though that is not something Snitker addressed prior to Saturday's game.
"Everybody’s going to get an opportunity," Snitker said. "We have very capable options, so we’ll mix and match, and get everybody involved. ... Go by some matchups, see if we can get one of them hot and ride him for a while. There’s a few ways we can go. This is kind of what the team thing is about -- it’s going to take all of us to get it done."
Acuna had made just three previous appearances in right field at the Major League level, all of which came in Atlanta's Interleague trip to Boston last May. He logged 50 games in right over his three years in the Minors, and Snitker said the 21-year-old reigning National League Rookie of the Year Award winner is capable of playing any of the three outfield spots.
While the Braves are confident Acuna can help offset the loss of a three-time Gold Glove Award winner on the defensive side, they are hoping Duvall can help pick up the slack offensively. He certainly did so on Saturday, clubbing a home run as part of a three-hit effort in Atlanta’s 15-7 victory over the Phillies.
After being acquired from the Reds at the 2018 Trade Deadline, Duvall hit just .132 (7-for-53) with 17 strikeouts and one extra-base hit (a double) in 33 games with the Braves down the stretch. He did not break camp with the team this season, with Atlanta opting to send him to Gwinnett to receive consistent at-bats.
"I admire the heck out of him and what he did," Snitker said. "He went down there and just played. That speaks volumes to the player that he is. You didn’t hear about him -- all he did was went down and did his job and did really well. You heard about performance, and that’s the way it should be."
The 30-year-old former All-Star put up a .931 OPS in 94 games with Gwinnett, while leading the International League in both home runs (29) and RBIs (84).
"It was tough at first," Duvall said of being sent to the Minors. "Like anything, when you get punched in the gut, it’s not the best feeling in the world. But I took it as I need to get better, so I went down there and got some good work in, got some confidence back, and I’m happy with where I’m at."
The injuries come at a pivotal time for a Braves team that entered Saturday with a 5 1/2-game lead over the Nationals and a 6 1/2-game edge over the third-place Phillies in the NL East. The Braves head to D.C. for a three-game set following this weekend's series in Philadelphia.
Atlanta will also play 14 straight games against the Nationals and Phillies from Sept. 5-19 -- a stretch that potentially falls within that six-to-eight-week timetable for Markakis.
"Everybody goes through this," Snitker said. "We started out the year -- we didn’t have a rotation because of injuries. Everybody has it. It’s hard to get through this long season without having to deal with injuries. So, nobody’s going to feel sorry for us or anything else."