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Notes: Scrimmages; pitching plans; Freeman

@mlbbowman
July 7, 2020

ATLANTA -- Bucking what had become a three-day trend, Braves manager Brian Snitker opened Tuesday’s press conference without any announcements about players who had tested positive for COVID-19 or who had elected not to play this season. “Really, this has been our first normal feeling day,” Snitker said. “It kind

ATLANTA -- Bucking what had become a three-day trend, Braves manager Brian Snitker opened Tuesday’s press conference without any announcements about players who had tested positive for COVID-19 or who had elected not to play this season.

“Really, this has been our first normal feeling day,” Snitker said. “It kind of felt like Spring Training. I finally had a chance to get in front of the team. I told those guys I had never felt so far detached from a team in all my life because we had all been all here, there and everywhere.”

For the first time since the coronavirus forced Spring Training to be shut down in March, the Braves had most of their team together at once. They had spent the first four days of Summer Camp broken into small groups, each of which worked out at different times throughout the day.

With the July 24 Opening Day matchup against the Mets now less than three weeks away, the Braves must start accelerating their preparations. They will spend Tuesday and Wednesday simulating game situations during what Snitker described as “controlled scrimmages.”

These scrimmages will give pitchers a chance to see how hitters are reacting to their pitches, and it will allow hitters a chance to further retrain their eyes to live pitching. But for now, the Braves will limit the action to prevent injuries that might be incurred while going first to third or overexerting themselves in an unnecessary manner.

Beginning Monday, the Braves will begin playing intrasquad games. Two lineups will be formed and umpires will be present to oversee what Snitker hopes will have the feel of a normal game. But he knows competition against teammates does not create the same adrenaline level as a regular-season game or even a Grapefruit League exhibition contest.

“I don’t want them to sleepwalk through this and then all of a sudden, the 24th is on top of us,” Snitker said. “The guys have done a good job. The coaches and training staff will do all they can to get them ready. It’s hard to simulate adrenaline and things like that. They’re going to have to do that. They’re going to have to fight and be able to do that to protect themselves down the road.”

Pitching plans
Mike Soroka, Max Fried, Josh Tomlin and Shane Greene are all scheduled to throw during Wednesday afternoon’s controlled scrimmage.

Snitker said his rotation candidates will throw 45-50 pitches during these controlled scrimmages. They’ll be slated to throw 50-65 pitches when the intrasquad games begin next week.

Still, even though this would put most of the rotation candidates on schedule for at least five innings once the season starts, Snitker said the team is still leaning toward piggybacking most of the starters during the season’s first couple of weeks.

But he said each starter’s situation will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. In other words, the Braves will likely show more caution with Cole Hamels than they will with Soroka or Mike Foltynewicz. Hamels, who missed Spring Training with left shoulder inflammation, still hasn’t been cleared to throw live batting practice.

Freeman update
Freddie Freeman has felt better over the past few days, but it’s still too early to know when he might join his Braves teammates. Freeman tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday and spent Saturday battling a fever for a third straight day. But he has steadily regained his strength while feeling much better over the past few days.

Freeman will need to be symptom free for 72 hours and have two negative tests more than 24 hours apart before being allowed to rejoin the team.

Left-handed reliever Will Smith and right-handed hurler Touki Toussaint have not yet been cleared to join the Braves. Both have been asymptomatic since testing positive last week. But they are still going through the protocol.

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