ATLANTA — The 2023 season has presented a number of challenges for the Atlanta Braves and they may be facing their stiffest test yet. The Braves will be without Max Fried for the foreseeable future after he was placed on the 15-day injured list Tuesday with a forearm strain and will be shutdown from throwing to allow the muscle to heal.
“I know that we’re not trying to put any timelines on anything,” Fried said prior to Tuesday’s series opener against the Boston Red Sox. “The priority is to get back, get healthy and make sure this kind of doesn’t happen again. We took imaging and everything structurally looks really good, so that was very encouraging. Now it’s just about letting the muscle heal and rest and make sure I build up properly so I can come back stronger.”
There are always immediate concerns that a forearm strain is foreshadowing for Tommy John surgery. Fried underwent the procedure back in 2014, but the Braves are hoping that he caught it soon enough to avoid a more serious outcome.
“Yeah, that’s the best possible outcome,” Brian Snitker said of Fried’s injury. “I hate to lose him, obviously, but kind of just another one of the things you navigate over the course of the season.”
The Braves are already without Kyle Wright and now lose Fried to an injured list stint for the second time. They came into the season with good starting pitching depth and it is getting put to the test.
“It’s just what you do here,” Snitker said. “I mean, what we go through every year, and there’s always challenges, and it’s never easy and there’s always obstacles and you just kinda plan or you huddle up and see what’s the best possible way forward to make it work the best we can.”
Fried said that he felt discomfort late in Friday’s start against the Baltimore Orioles. He came in Saturday and still didn’t feel right and notified the team’s training staff.
“Definitely discomfort. I was feeling it towards the end of my last outing,” Fried said of the injury. “Something felt a little different. It wasn’t normal soreness. So just wanted to make sure we got on top of it.”
“I think a lot of the times, for me personally, if something’s acting up, the command will start to waver a little bit,” Fried added. “You still are able to keep the velocity up and I just wanted to make sure that coming off an injury, you didn’t want things to really compound and get really bad.”
Charlie Morton will start Tuesday against the Red Sox. Wednesday’s starter is still unknown and Snitker wasn’t ready to announce their plans before the game. One option would be calling up Jared Shuster from Gwinnett, who would be on regular rest and is coming off his best start of the season. Another option would be a bullpen game. The Braves called up Danny Young to take Fried’s place on the active roster Tuesday and currently have 10 relievers on the roster with another scheduled off day Thursday. After Thursday, the Braves will enter a stretch where they will play 19 games in 20 days.
“It’s never easy, those things never kind of work out just perfect,” Snitker said. “We’ll just assess the whole thing this evening and decide on something tomorrow. Then as we go, we’ll just probably make changes along the way.
Those changes could include Shuster, Dylan Dodd who made a spot start last Thursday in Miami, and possibly Michael Soroka who is also logging innings at Gwinnett after a two season layoff. Another possibility down the road could be Kolby Allard, who has been sidelined since suffering an oblique injury during the spring. Snitker said that Allard had recently began throwing.