LOS ANGELES -- As Jorge Soler exited the dugout to prepare for batting practice on Thursday afternoon at Dodger Stadium, a group of Braves position players playfully clapped and Freddie Freeman hugged the veteran outfielder.
Soler was rejoining his teammates for the first time since testing positive for COVID-19 on Oct. 12. He was cleared by MLB’s Joint Committee to return from the COVID-19-related injured list before Game 5 of the National League Championship Series on Tuesday.
“He's been working out on his own,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “So I think he's good to go.”
While Soler is back on the Braves’ active roster, he won’t make an immediate return to the lineup. He didn’t see top-notch pitching during his 10-day stay away from the team, but more importantly, there is not a spot for him in the lineup right now.
With Eddie Rosario, Adam Duvall and Joc Pederson all producing, Snitker certainly isn’t going to play Soler in place of one of those three outfielders during the NLCS.
But if Atlanta were to advance to the World Series, Soler could fill an outfield spot or be used as the designated hitter in the games played at an American League park.
Top prospect Cristian Pache was removed from Atlanta’s NLCS roster to create a spot for Soler. Pache was added when Soler tested positive a few hours before the Braves won Game 4 of the NL Division Series against the Brewers.
The Braves are confident Huascar Ynoa isn’t dealing with a significant right shoulder injury, but they won’t know until the right-hander undergoes further tests.
“He's going to have all the tests run and everything, and we'll see, probably in a couple days, where he's at,” Snitker said. “But they don't feel right now that it will impede him starting Spring Training. But they haven't done the MRIs and everything yet, either.”
Ynoa felt something pop in his shoulder when he was playing catch earlier this week. Still, he remained slated to start Game 4 before he felt lingering discomfort as he tried to play catch a few hours before the scheduled first pitch.
Because Ynoa was replaced by Dylan Lee on the NLCS roster, he wouldn’t be eligible to participate in the World Series if the Braves advance.