Braves’ Max Fried doing ‘fine,’ but eventually will hit the injured list

Braves starting pitcher Max Fried, left, walks off the field during the fourth inning of an opening day baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park, Thursday, March 30, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Braves starting pitcher Max Fried, left, walks off the field during the fourth inning of an opening day baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park, Thursday, March 30, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON — In the clubhouse Saturday, Max Fried wore what appeared to be a compression sleeve on his left leg.

Two days ago, he suffered a hamstring strain while running to cover first base. He exited the game in the fourth inning.

The Braves still expect Fried to hit the injured list “at some point in time,” manager Brian Snitker said.

“I saw him this morning at breakfast. He came down and was moving around OK,” Snitker said. “I think it’s good that he didn’t blow anything up. He strained it. But it’s going to prohibit him from getting on the mound for a while and doing all that.”

How is Fried holding up?

“He’s fine,” Snitker said. “He’s happy that it’s not anything worse than what it could be. It’s just one of those things, you’re going to have to deal with it and it is what it is. That’s what I told him, I said, ‘In a couple of months, we’ll look back and not even remember this.’ He’s still going to have an opportunity to have a great year and continue on what he’s doing. Just a minor setback.”

The Braves don’t need a starting pitcher to fill Fried’s spot until Wednesday in St. Louis. As of now, Jared Shuster will debut in Sunday’s series finale at Nationals Park before Charlie Morton pitches Monday’s series opener in St. Louis and Dylan Dodd makes his debut Tuesday.

Teams can backdate an injured-list placement to the day after the player last appeared in a game. But clubs can backdate them a maximum of only three days. This means the Braves would need to put Fried on the injured list Monday if they want to backdate the move to Friday.

Right-hander Bryce Elder, who started Triple-A Gwinnett’s season opener Friday, would be in line to start Wednesday in St. Louis, if the Braves want to go that route. Elder on Friday allowed four runs over six innings – three of those runs scored on a three-run homer in Elder’s final inning. Elder struck out four batters and walked one.

“Anybody we got down there would be a candidate,” Snitker said. “All of them are.”

Elder might be the best candidate, if only because he would fill Fried’s spot on regular rest. Ian Anderson is scheduled to start for Gwinnett on Sunday. Michael Soroka, who will pitch for Gwinnett on Tuesday, is not fully stretched out.

In 2021, Fried dealt with a hamstring ailment early in the season. He compared this one with how that one felt. He eventually posted a 3.04 ERA over 28 regular-season starts that year, then closed out the Astros in Game 6 of the World Series.

It worked out.

This hamstring strain doesn’t mean Fried’s season is lost, especially because it happened this early.

“It’s just one of things that you just never know,” Snitker said. “We’ll treat him up and hopefully get him back out there sooner than later.”

D’Arnaud starts behind the plate

In the second game of the season, Snitker started Travis d’Arnaud, who collected four hits opening day as a designated hitter, behind the plate.

Snitker made it sound as if the decision had nothing to do with d’Arnaud catching Spencer Strider specifically.

“I don’t know,” Snitker said. “You can’t mix and match everybody. But yeah, they’re going to share the catching. I don’t know how it’ll work out.”

Snitker said Sean Murphy, who was expected to receive most of the starts behind the plate, will catch Sunday.

The Braves might have baseball’s best catching duo. It could help keep both catchers fresh.

“It’s good,” Snitker said. “It always helps when you can keep them all active. Especially in that position because anything can happen where, at some point in time, one of them’s got to catch for 10 days in a row or something like that.”

Kyle Wright still building up

Snitker said Kyle Wright, who pitched Thursday at in North Port, Florida, still is on schedule as he builds up strength.

Snitker said he believes Wright is scheduled to pitch Wednesday. This makes sense, as Gwinnett listed a “TBD” as its Wednesday starter.

Before spring training ended, Wright said he expected to make one Triple-A start. Wright isn’t eligible to come off the injured list until April 11.

A nod to Lucas Luetge

When Fried prematurely left Thursday’s game, a parade of Braves relievers finished the game.

The first was Lucas Luetge, who had to warm up quickly. It was a cold day. It was windy. He had not been warming previously.

Fried’s injury came out of nowhere.

Luetge was charged with an earned run over one inning of work, but he successfully preserved the lead and passed it to the next man.