Braves notes: How Max Fried positioned himself to stay healthy in 2024

Braves starting pitcher Max Fried (left) warms up with other pitchers during spring training baseball workouts at CoolToday Park, Wednesday, February, 14, 2024, in North Port, Florida. (Hyosub Shin /



Braves starting pitcher Max Fried (left) warms up with other pitchers during spring training baseball workouts at CoolToday Park, Wednesday, February, 14, 2024, in North Port, Florida. (Hyosub Shin /

NORTH PORT, Fla. — In recent months, Max Fried has been more conscious of his diet. He has tried to cut down on fried food and fast food. He has exercised extra caution with what he puts in his body.

“Staying healthy is the first thing,” Fried said of his focus this season. “I’ve always been told the best ability is availability. So, just being able to make my starts every fifth day and being able to take the ball for 33 times, that’s the goal.”

Fried started only 14 regular-season games last year – though he pitched well when on the mound. The Braves had a historic offense and tons of contributors down their roster, but their ace often was on the injured list.

“I learned that I don’t like sitting on the sidelines and watching,” Fried said. “Just being able to really stay on top of the little things that might be a little bit mundane but are going to allow me to be out there every single day.”

At the Braves Fest fan event last month, Fried said he felt “as sturdy and solid” as he’s been in as long as he can remember. On Friday, he said this still holds true.

“I feel great, just health-wise and everything,” Fried said. “Maintaining weight really well. That’s really big for me, especially going throughout the season. You tend to lose some weight, so being able to kind of be more stable in that, just feel strong – being able to weather the season. Because it is a long one, and it breaks you down, so being able to have a good starting point, that’s really important.”

One topic that’s impossible to ignore: Fried is in his final year of team control. If the left-hander and the team can’t agree on a contract extension, he’ll become a free agent at season’s end.

The Braves could lose their ace, which makes every other starter that much more important this season. The Braves might have to rework their rotation next season if Fried and Charlie Morton – who has flirted with retirement in the past – are gone.

If you follow this team, you know this much: President of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos doesn’t publicly discuss contract situations. On Thursday, he said he’s “confident that our guys know where they stand, where they sit with us. Max certainly does.”

“It goes without saying: He’s great. Anytime you have a great player in a free-agent year, it’s going to be a topic,” Anthopoulos said. “But again, our goal is always going to be to keep these guys while also making sure that we’re keeping a competitive club around them. And that’s the trick to it, trying to balance it out.”

Last month, Fried said he respects that the club wants to quietly handle these matters internally. He said the situation is out of his hands.

He reiterated the same Friday.

“I love being here, but at this point right now, I’m really just focusing on getting ready for the season,” Fried said.

If 2024 is Fried’s final season in Atlanta, then the lefty and the Braves might as well hoist another trophy. Through a few days of camp, “World Series or bust” has been a theme, and Fried didn’t shy away from that.

“I’ve heard it the last couple days, and the same is true for me: We’re here to go out there and get to the World Series and go win it,” he said. “We had a really good year last year, and we made additions to get better.”

But before he could begin this season, he had to put himself in a better spot to stay healthy. He’s done that by using an improved diet to prepare his body for this year.

“Max is another one that’s never satisfied,” manager Brian Snitker said. “He’s always going to try and add, and get better. He’s looking at the health part of it and everything. I wouldn’t expect anything less from Max. He’s one of those guys that, like the great ones are, he just is never satisfied.”

Sale impresses in latest bullpen session

Around the time Ronald Acuña Jr. took batting practice Friday, Chris Sale threw a bullpen session.

No one can be two places at once, so Snitker was watching Sale, Spencer Strider and other pitchers on the bullpen mounds behind the main stadium.

“It’s pretty good,” Snitker said of Sale. “It’s fun to watch. It’s kind of like that must-see TV when he throws.”

Friday marked the third time Snitker has watched one of Sale’s bullpen sessions.

“Just the stuff,” Snitker said of why Sale is “must-see TV.” “Just watching him, just kind of his angles and how the ball comes out of his hand, and the movement and all. You can just tell the command that’s there. It’s really, really good.”

Guys were itching to get back at it

Matt Olson on Friday said the Braves have a sour taste in their mouths from the past two years.

How long did it last for him?

“It’s still there,” Olson said. “You play to win. And if you don’t win, it’s always going to be in the back of your head.”

Olson is among a group of position players who reported to camp early. The Braves don’t hold their first official full-squad workout until Tuesday, but it feels like they already have almost their entire team working out.

“It’s amazing how many guys have been in camp for the last week,” Snitker said. “I think now, we probably got all but a couple of guys, with all the position players. I look at (it as) they’re ready to get going and you have a facility like this, that’s kind of why we built it, is to lure them down here and give them that opportunity.”

The members of the Braves’ projected starting lineup who are here (and have been observed by reporters): Olson, Acuña, Austin Riley, Michael Harris II, Sean Murphy and Jarred Kelenic. (Ozzie Albies, Marcell Ozuna and Orlando Arcia could be here or in the area, but they haven’t yet been seen in the clubhouse.)

Snitker said the early arrivals don’t surprise him.

“This is what these guys are built for,” he said. “And it’s always good to see them, especially here early. Most of the time if the guys aren’t here, there’s a reason. They have family obligations or something like that, that they got to tend to.

“They’re ready to get going. Their clock went off, just like all of us.”

Olson’s focus

Asked about his focus this offseason for the year ahead, Olson said this:

“Just continuing to work. Consistency. I thought defense could’ve been a little better. There’s always going to be spells during the season where you feel like you don’t have the best at-bats for a week, two weeks, that you can always improve on. The name of the game is cutting down the lulls to a shorter period, making them two days instead of a week.”

Olson, of course, blasted a franchise-record 54 homers a season ago – and led all of MLB in this category.