Max Fried received the negative COVID-19 test results he needs to return to the Braves' Spring Training complex.
Braves manager Brian Snitker said Fried will rejoin his teammates and resume his normal preparations on Sunday. The lefty was forced to spend a few days quarantining after potentially coming in contact with COVID-19 earlier this week.
“He hasn’t been down long,” Snitker said. “So we’ll want to get him back out there as soon as we can.”
Fried will likely need to complete at least one side session before being cleared to make his spring debut. If he makes a start by the end of this week, he still would have time to make four exhibition starts and still be in line to start during the regular season’s first series (April 1-4 in Philadelphia).
Snitker said a few extra days were built into each starting pitcher’s preparation schedule. Thus, he doesn’t believe Fried’s absence for a few days will significantly alter the rotation plans.
“It’s not going to be that big of a deal,” Snitker said.
While Fried is set to return, the Braves will now be without Sean Newcomb for at least a couple days. Newcomb was also potentially exposed to COVID-19 earlier this week. The lefty is vying for a bullpen spot.
The Braves still aren’t setting a specific timetable for Mike Soroka's return, but Snitker hinted the right-hander might make a start before Spring Training ends.
“He’s built up for us to get him out there at some point,” Snitker said of Soroka, who tore his right Achilles tendon on Aug. 3.
Soroka took another step in the right direction on Saturday, when he was cleared to start taking batting practice. The 23-year-old hurler has been throwing live batting practice, participating in fielding drills and completing some running drills.
But, the Braves are still being somewhat cautious with his running drills.
“Everything is lining up well,” Snitker said. “He can’t line up and race you and [me] right now. But everything is pretty good.”
When rain prevented the Braves from playing their scheduled game against the Rays on Saturday, the Braves opted to push Charlie Morton’s spring debut back 24 hours.
Morton will now be scheduled to throw the first three innings of Sunday’s game against the Red Sox at CoolToday Park. Morton signed a one-year, $15 million deal with Atlanta on Nov. 24, 2020. This will be the first time he has pitched for the Braves since being traded to the Pirates during the ‘09 season.
After Morton exits, the Braves will give Huascar Ynoa a chance to work multiple innings. Ynoa had been scheduled to throw three innings on Saturday. The right-hander worked effectively as both a starter and reliever in 2020.
Bryse Wilson, Kyle Wright and Ynoa are the top candidates to fill a rotation spot until Soroka is ready to return.
“We’re going to stretch [Ynoa] out and see where he fits,” Snitker said.