The Braves have placed shortstop Dansby Swanson on the 10-day DL with left wrist inflammation, per a team announcement. He’ll be replaced by outfielder Preston Tucker, who was only just optioned way earlier today.
It doesn’t seem as if the move was made out of concern that Swanson has suffered a significant injury. Manager Brian Snitker suggested today that the belief is Swanson’s wrist is “structurally sound,” per MLB.com’s Mark Bowman (via Twitter).
That’s generally good news, then, for the Braves. The team’s encouraging overall start has been matched — and driven, in no small part — by Swanson’s own first month. Coming off of a rough 2017 effort at the plate, he was something of a question mark entering the current campaign.
To this point, Swanson has fulfilled the promise he showed as a former first overall draft pick who sprined through the minors. He’s off to a .289/.336/.430 start through 122 plate appearances, with two home runs and two stolen bases. Defensive metrics are also smiling on Swanson’s efforts in the field after awarding him marginal grades in 2017.
That said, Swanson still has some issues to overcome on the offensive side. He has benefited thus far from a .388 batting average on balls in play that’s sure to decline. Swanson has thus far taken a more aggressive approach than in the past, with his swing rate (48.5%) and swinging-strike rate (11.2%) both easily topping his prior levels. He’s drawing walks in just 5.7% of his plate appearances, well shy of the 10.7% rate he carried last year, while going down on strikeouts more than ever before (26.2%). It remains to be seen how things will shake out as pitchers react to this changed approach and Swanson, in turn, responds.
As for Tucker, he was eligible to return in advance of the usual 10-day waiting period since he was replacing an injured player. It’s fair to wonder, though, whether he’ll remain on the MLB roster for long. There isn’t a rush for another infielder — Johan Camargo can slide to short, with Charlie Culberson and Ryan Flaherty still available off the bench — but the organization had already decided it preferred an alignment that did not include Tucker. He could head back to Gwinnett when Swanson is activated, if not sooner — if, say, the Braves decide to promote just-claimed utilityman Philip Gosselin.