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Foltynewicz outrighted after clearing waivers

@mlbbowman
July 30, 2020

ATLANTA -- Mike Foltynewicz will have a chance to right himself while remaining a member of the Braves’ organization. Foltynewicz cleared waivers on Thursday and was outrighted to the Braves’ alternate training site at Triple-A Gwinnett’s Coolray Field. The former All-Star was designated for assignment after showing diminished velocity and

ATLANTA -- Mike Foltynewicz will have a chance to right himself while remaining a member of the Braves’ organization.

Foltynewicz cleared waivers on Thursday and was outrighted to the Braves’ alternate training site at Triple-A Gwinnett’s Coolray Field. The former All-Star was designated for assignment after showing diminished velocity and less effective stuff during his season debut on Monday.

“With everybody needing pitching, I didn’t know if somebody would come in and take a chance,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “Remembering how he had thrown in the past, I thought somebody would come in and take a crack at him.”

If Foltynewicz were throwing like he did when he produced a 2.85 ERA during his All-Star season in 2018, he wouldn’t have been available for 29 other teams to pass on him and his approximate $2.1 million price tag for the rest of the season.

But Foltynewicz’s issues are even more baffling than they were when he posted a 6.37 ERA through his first 11 starts last season and was optioned to Gwinnett. Those struggles could be attributed to right elbow discomfort caused by bone spurs. Foltynewicz righted himself and returned to the Majors in August, and he produced a 1.73 ERA in his final seven regular-season starts.

When Foltynewicz returned to Spring Training this year, his velocity was 93-96 mph. But between the time camps closed in March and Summer Camp began in early July, he lost 18-20 pounds. All signs are he is healthy and might just be dealing with a loss of strength due to not continuing to lift weights during the shutdown.

Foltynewicz's weight loss appears to be the reason his once-electric fastball averaged 90-92 mph during July’s intrasquad games and sat between 88-92 mph when he allowed three home runs and six earned runs to the Rays over 3 1/3 innings on Monday.

“He’s already mentioned he was working to get his weight back,” Snitker said. “You’ve got to go about it in the right way with how you train and with your diet and the whole thing. We’ll see.”

Smith inching closer
Will Smith threw a side session on Wednesday, and he could be activated at some point next week. The All-Star closer tested positive for COVID-19 on July 3 and was cleared to return to the team’s facilities on Sunday. He was asymptomatic throughout the month.

“He’s not far away,” Snitker said. “I’m not going to pin down when [he’ll be activated], but it’s just going to be a matter of time.”

Smith signed a three-year, $39 million deal in November. His addition to a relief corps that already includes closer Mark Melancon, Shane Greene, Chris Martin and Darren O’Day could give the Braves one of the game’s best bullpens.

Freeman facts
When Freddie Freeman hit a two-run homer in the third inning of Wednesday night’s 7-4 win over the Rays, he snapped the longest home run drought of his career at 26 games. The All-Star first baseman hit 38 home runs through last year’s first 137 games, but bone chips in his right elbow kept him without a homer over his final 21 regular-season games.

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