Braves injury updates: Smyly returning Saturday, Acuna progressing well

Braves starting pitcher Drew Smyly (18) delivers a pitch against Philadelphia Phillies in the first inning Sunday, April 11, 2021, at Truist Park in Atlanta. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)
Braves starting pitcher Drew Smyly (18) delivers a pitch against Philadelphia Phillies in the first inning Sunday, April 11, 2021, at Truist Park in Atlanta. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

The Braves will get a bit healthier Saturday when left-hander Drew Smyly returns and starts against the Diamondbacks, manager Brian Snitker said Wednesday.

Smyly is on the 10-day injured list because of forearm inflammation. The Braves were hopeful that he would miss only one start, and it appears that will be the case.

Smyly will aim for better results when he’s activated. He allowed seven earned runs over his first 11 innings (two starts). He allowed five runs in five innings during his last outing against the Phillies, which was lost on the infamous botched replay review April 11.

Two days off this week helped the Braves navigate their rotation issues. Kyle Wright and Bryse Wilson each were recalled from the alternate site to make starts during last weekend’s three-game series in Chicago. Their pitching depth has been tested, with Wright, Wilson and Huascar Ynoa accounting for five starts in 17 games.

The Braves signed Smyly to a one-year, $11 million deal over the winter. They identified him as a player with untapped ability who could bolster the middle to back end of the rotation.

Notes from Wednesday:

- Smyly is one of many on the Braves’ crowded injured list. Snitker shook his head while reciting his team’s injury updates. “That’s not a good thing when I have to bring a cheat sheet (for injuries),” he said.

- All-Star outfielder Ronald Acuna could be back this weekend, as well. Acuna is resting a mild abdominal strain he experienced Sunday. He’s not on the IL, but he was out of Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s lineups. After Thursday’s off-day, the Braves are optimistic Acuna could return when they open their homestand Friday.

“He’s better today than he was yesterday, so they’ll treat him up all evening and again tomorrow,” Snitker said. “We’ll see what happens on Friday. … He’s made significant progress over the last couple days, so that’s good.”

- Smyly isn’t the team’s only sidelined southpaw. Max Fried is still considered day-to-day, Snitker said. Fried is dealing with a hamstring strain he suffered while running the bases during the team’s last homestand.

“He hasn’t even gotten off the mound yet,” Snitker said. “As we knew when this happened, these are tough. Hamstrings are tough. Everybody is different, and we have to be careful not to push him also.”

- Reliever Chris Martin, out with right-shoulder inflammation, is progressing. He’s throwing, which is encouraging news, but hasn’t been on the mound yet. Reliever Sean Newcomb, on the IL for undisclosed reasons, doesn’t have an estimated return date.

- Injured outfielder Cristian Pache (strained groin) is at the alternate training site and should be getting at-bats in the next two days, Snitker said. The team hasn’t set a possible return date, but he’s trending in the right direction.

Outfielder Ender Inciarte also is sidelined with a hamstring issue he suffered last weekend, so veterans Guillermo Heredia and Ehire Adrianza have been logging playing time in the outfield. Inciarte will be out for a while.

- And finally, starter Mike Soroka hasn’t resumed throwing since he was shut down with right-shoulder inflammation. Soroka is working his way back from a torn Achilles that ended his 2020 season after three starts. The right-hander at first was expected to return in late April, but inflammation paused his comeback.

Snitker said he believes Soroka will begin throwing again soon, “but he’s so far away it’s not even relevant right now.” It’s been an unfortunate past calendar year for Soroka, who when healthy has been one of the premier young starters in baseball.

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