Braves’ Austin Riley showing ‘marked improvement,’ remains day to day

Atlanta Braves third baseman Austin Riley (27) hits a single against the Cleveland Guardians in the fourth inning of a baseball game, Sunday, April 28, 2024, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Atlanta Braves third baseman Austin Riley (27) hits a single against the Cleveland Guardians in the fourth inning of a baseball game, Sunday, April 28, 2024, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

The Braves received the update they hoped to hear from third baseman Austin Riley, who’s been dealing with left-side inflammation.

“I just saw Austin, and he says it feels a lot better today, which is really, really good,” manager Brian Snitker said. “He’s having a hard time finding the (sore) spot, so that’s always a good thing.”

Riley will avoid the injured list, as the team initially hoped, and remains day to day. The Braves were set to face the Cubs on Tuesday and Wednesday before Thursday’s off-day, so it could make sense to rest Riley until the series opener Friday against San Diego.

The All-Star third baseman first felt soreness Sunday, leading to an early exit during the Braves’ game in New York. Journeyman Zack Short has replaced Riley in the meantime, even providing the go-ahead RBI double Monday in the sixth inning.

But the Braves will hope to reinsert Riley into their lineup soon. Riley has already missed two games, one shy of the total he’s missed in each of the past two seasons.

“It was a good sign today that he came in and had marked improvement,” Snitker said. “That’s what we were looking for.”

Notes:

- Short already is on his third team this season after playing for the Mets (10 games) and Red Sox (two games). It’s uncertain how long he’ll remain with the Braves, but he’s helped his new team in this pinch.

“I figured they’d give (Riley) a day or two, especially with the kind of caliber player he is, you don’t want to push that,” Short said. “So it’s just staying ready.”

Short said of his brief Braves experience thus far: “Special group. It’s special to be on this side after watching them kick the snot out of a few teams from the other side. It’s no secret of why they’ve won so many games over the last however many years. It’s a special group that prepares and plays the way they do. It’s no secret why they’re really good.”

- Starter Reynaldo Lopez, who after only 71 pitches left his start Monday with back tightness, is doing well. “There shouldn’t be any problems,” Snitker said. Lopez is expected to make his next start.

- Reliever Pierce Johnson remains on track to be activated as soon as Friday. He was set to throw a simulated game Wednesday, and the team will proceed from there. Johnson’s return will be a huge boost for the bullpen; he’s been among the better relievers in MLB, holding opponents to a .222 average while striking out 16 in 12 innings.