Will Smith cleared to end COVID quarantine
Braves reliever Will Smith has been cleared to end his quarantine, which was required after he tested positive for COVID-19 at the beginning of the month.
While the Braves were in New York to play the Mets on Sunday, Smith was playing catch and going through a personalized workout at Truist Park. The 31-year-old All-Star left-hander could be ready to join Atlanta’s bullpen within the next two weeks.
“We were so counting on him and still will,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “It’s just going to lengthen our bullpen. It will be big for us.”
As much as the Braves are looking forward to adding Smith to their relief corps, they too understand the need to protect the southpaw and their three-year, $39 million investment they made in him in November 2019. So they won’t rush him, knowing he spent the past three weeks restricted to throwing at a target in his suburban Atlanta yard.
Smith could be cleared to throw off a mound within the next couple of days. He then will be sent to Gwinnett County to work live batting practice and simulated games against other members of the team’s 60-man player pool who are not on the active roster.
If all goes well, Smith will be activated from the COVID-19 list before the team begins a road trip Aug. 7 in Philadelphia.
“He’s a one-inning guy, and he’s healthy and feels great,” Snitker said. “It’s just a matter of going through the process.”
Smith produced a 2.66 ERA while making 117 appearances (118 1/3 innings) for the Giants over the past two seasons. It was revealed he tested positive for COVID-19 on July 4. He was asymptomatic before his positive test and has continued to fit this description in recent weeks.
d'Arnaud, Flowers update
Asked to update the status of his two primary catchers on Sunday, Snitker said Travis d’Arnaud and Tyler Flowers “still weren’t feeling great.”
Neither d’Arnaud or Flowers has tested positive for the coronavirus. But because they are still showing symptoms, both veteran catchers remain in Atlanta. They both began feeling sick before the Braves left for their road trip on Thursday.
When Marcell Ozuna hit the game-tying homer on a 3-2 fastball from Edwin Díaz with two outs in the ninth of Saturday’s 5-3, 10-inning win, he became the first Braves player to hit a go-ahead or game-tying homer with the team down to its final strike since Andrelton Simmons on Sept. 7, 2013, at Citizens Bank Park. Simmons did it against Jonathan Papelbon, but the Phillies ended up winning, 6-5.
This was the first homer Ozuna hit since signing his one-year, $18 million deal with the Braves in January.
Before Saturday, Brian R. Hunter had been the most recent player to hit his first Braves homer with the team tied or trailing in the ninth inning or later. Hunter hit a game-tying, two-run homer in the 11th frame of a 12-11, 12-inning loss to the Phillies on June 5, 1991.