As expected, the Braves activated southpaw Drew Smyly from the 10-day injured list in advance of his scheduled start tonight against the Diamondbacks. Infielder Sean Kazmar Jr. was optioned to the alternate training site to create 26-man roster room for Smyly. Outfielder Cristian Pache is also headed to the alternate site after being activated from the 10-day IL.
Smyly will make a relatively quick return after hitting the IL on April 16 (retroactive to April 13) with left forearm inflammation. While the injury wasn’t thought to be overly serious, any sort of forearm problem had to be seen as a concern given Smyly’s lengthy health history, including a past Tommy John surgery that kept him from pitching in either the 2017 or 2018 seasons.
The IL stint could perhaps serve as a bit of a reset for Smyly, who had a quality start in his Braves debut on April 6 before struggling in his second outing on April 11, allowing five runs in five innings against the Nationals. Smyly signed a one-year, $11MM free agent deal with Atlanta last winter, scoring a nice payday in the wake of a bounce-back 2020 season with the Giants.
A groin injury sent Pache to the injured list on April 14, so he’ll return after a minimal absence, though he is no longer on the MLB roster. Pache has been heralded as one of baseball’s top prospects over the last few years, though he has only barely gotten his feet wet at the big league level, with 13 games and 35 plate appearances in 2020-21. Pache is still only 22 years old and had played in only 26 Triple-A games in 2019, so the Braves clearly want him to get some more minor league seasoning in order to sharpen up his skills at the plate. Pache is seen as a future Major League regular based on elite glovework alone, and becoming even an average hitter will raise his ceiling to a potential All-Star level.
Kazmar’s return to the majors ends after two games and one plate appearance, though it was enough to seal one of the more extraordinary comeback stories in recent baseball history. Kazmar played in 19 games with the Padres in 2008 and didn’t make it back to the big leagues until this season, keeping his career going through years of grinding in the farm systems of four different organizations (Padres, Mariners, Mets, Braves).