A positive COVID-19 test has shelved Braves star Freddie Freeman since early July, but the first baseman is not a sure bet to miss Opening Day on the 24th. Manager Brian Snitker told Mark Bowman of MLB.com and other reporters Thursday that the Braves haven’t ruled out Freeman for the start of their season. Snitker added that Atlanta will likely make a decision on Freeman after Friday, David O’Brien of The Athletic tweets.
Fortunately, Freeman is doing much better now, but his illness seemed quite severe at the outset. Teammate and outfielder Nick Markakis even elected to opt out of the season after talking with Freeman, saying: “That opened my eyes. He didn’t sound good.”
Not long after Markakis made his choice, the Braves reached a deal with Yasiel Puig as a replacement in their outfield. Puig’s bat could also help matters if the Braves have to go without Freeman for any amount of time. That said, there’s no realistic hope of replacing Freeman’s on- or off-field impact on the organization. The 30-year-old enjoyed yet another terrific season in 2019, batting .295/.389/.549 (141 wRC+) with a career-high 38 home runs in 692 plate appearances.
While Freeman is getting closer to a return, the Braves had to place first baseman/outfielder Peter O’Brien on the 10-day injured list Thursday after he was exposed to someone with the coronavirus, per David O’Brien. Peter O’Brien didn’t test positive, however. The 30-year-old, whom the Braves signed to a minor league contract in the offseason, made their initial 60-man player pool.