Braves hope Sean Newcomb rediscovers form in Triple-A



The Braves reinstated left-hander Max Fried from the injured list ahead of Wednesday’s game, which Fried will start against the Nationals. In a corresponding move, the Braves optioned southpaw Sean Newcomb to Triple-A Gwinnett.

Newcomb, who returned to the bullpen this season after another failed trial in the rotation last year, was off to an outstanding start. He emerged as one of the team’s most valuable relievers before he required time on the injured list for an unspecified reason. Newcomb has appeared in two games since rejoining the club, allowing five runs in what amounted to one inning.

Manager Brian Snitker felt Newcomb was negatively affected by being sidelined for a couple of weeks. He’ll go down to Triple-A, where games began Tuesday, and pitch on a more normal routine. The hope is Newcomb re-establishes himself and returns soon.

“I think I looked and he’s had two appearances in 18 days,” Snitker said. “It’s good that we now have a minor-league season where we can go and get him regular work and get him pitching. He’s had two appearances, couldn’t get out of either inning. He just needs to go back and get regular.

“He’s a guy who needs regular work. He was throwing really well. I told him we want to get him back to where he was last time we were here in Washington (during the second series of the season). He needs to pitch, and he didn’t get that. He had one semi-outing at the alternate site (before rejoining the team from the IL). Now that the Triple-A season is open, they can control what he does and keep him regular. So hopefully he makes some appearances down there, gets back going and he can come back and help us.”

The Braves need Newcomb to rediscover his form. Before he was sidelined, Snitker mentioned Newcomb earning more high-leverage opportunities. He’d struck out 12 and allowed one run in his first five appearances (5-1/3 innings).

Notes from Wednesday:

- As anyone observing the Braves might’ve noticed, outfielder Ronald Acuna has been reluctant to steal bases since his return from the IL because of a mild abdominal strain. Acuna, usually a menace on the base paths, hasn’t stolen a base since April 12. He’s 3-for-3 on steal attempts this season, but the number of attempts is surprisingly low for a player many thought would flirt with 40 home runs and 40 steals.

“He’s trying to protect himself, get himself back going,” Snitker said. “Eliminating some of the diving. When he came back, he wanted to take care of himself for the long haul.”

- Snitker said last week the Braves are approaching the 85% vaccination threshold that would allow them to relax COVID-19 protocols. He estimated they’re about “eight or nine days” from reaching that mark. “We’re just waiting on time right now,” Snitker said.

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