Braves OF Ender Inciarte out with thumb injury

Atlanta Braves outfielder Ender Inciarte catches a ball while fielding during team practice Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021, at CoolToday Park in North Port, Fla. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)
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Atlanta Braves outfielder Ender Inciarte catches a ball while fielding during team practice Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021, at CoolToday Park in North Port, Fla. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Braves outfielder Ender Inciarte is out indefinitely with a thumb injury, manager Brian Snitker said Thursday. Inciarte last played March 4 and has logged only seven at-bats this spring.

“It’s been a slow process to get him treated up and get the bat in his hand again,” Snitker said. “He’s progressing, but he’s not to the point he can go out and get a game at-bat right now, so we’ll have to see.”

Inciarte enters the season hoping to rebound from a pair of lackluster campaigns, though this is a setback. The former All-Star had the worst season of his career in 2020, hitting .190/.262/.250 across 46 games. He was coming off an injury-ridden 2019 in which he hit .246/.343/.397 over 65 games.

With Inciarte sidelined, the already high odds of Cristian Pache starting the season as the team’s center fielder increased. Pache, 22, entered camp the heavy favorite to start in center April 1 in Philadelphia, which is opening day.

Inciarte, 30, said he would accept a fourth-outfielder role if that’s what the Braves decided. At this point, that’s a near guarantee.

“I try to take everything as positive and keep working,” Inciarte said last week. “I felt like I worked on a lot of things trying to prove I can still be myself and just have fun. You never know. I don’t know if I’m going to be able to play 10 more years or one more year. So I’m trying to enjoy my time, be the best I can and just let God do his thing. I know everybody here is pulling for me.”

Notes from Thursday:

- Outfielders Ronald Acuna and Michael Harris each homered in the Braves’ 2-0 win over the Rays. Acuna, who’s had a quiet spring, had two hits and also stole a base.

Harris’ shot was a continuation of his strong exhibition season. There isn’t a young player who’s impressed more than Harris. Expect him to rocket up the organizational and national prospect rankings throughout the year. The 20-year-old is a Stockbridge High graduate whom the team drafted No. 98 overall in 2019. He has the potential to be the franchise’s No. 1 prospect in the near future.

“He’s a special player,” Snitker said. “It’s just a matter (of time). We just need to get that minor-league season to start where we can get him out there playing every day. It’s remarkable, the way he carries himself, the kind of player he is. He’s a special player. That’s a great find by our scouting department to identify him. ... To see him and nab him like that, that’s first-round tools when you see what he can do. I think that’s a good job by our scouting department to recognize him.”

- Kyle Wright pitched well for the second consecutive outing, surrendering two hits over four scoreless innings against the Rays. Since allowing three runs in 1-1/3 innings during his debut, Wright has pitched seven scoreless innings across his past two outings. He’s held the Twins and Rays to a combined three hits while striking out five and walking two (both issued Thursday).

Wright didn’t have his best stuff, but he trusted the defense would make plays behind him. That’s been an emphasis in Wright’s maturation process.

“I feel like, at times in the past, when I’d struggle or things spiraled out of control, that’s usually when I’m trying to do more myself,” Wright said. “That’s when things do spiral out of control, whether that’s walks, hits, whatever it is. For me, the more I can trust my stuff and rely on those guys to make plays, more times than not, they’re going to make them. Usually when you have that conviction in your pitches and defense, good things happen.”

- Wright, Bryse Wilson and Huascar Ynoa are battling for a potential rotation spot, depending on how the Braves handle Mike Soroka (Achilles) to start the season. But there’s a chance, thanks to early off days, the Braves move forward with a four-man rotation in that scenario. One of the aforementioned three could still make the opening-day roster, he’d just be in the bullpen.

‘We have talked about that,” Snitker said. “You look at it, there’s definitely a chance we could do that. We could add an extra bench player, reliever. Take that starter, whoever he’ll be, and put him in the bullpen. There are a couple ways we could go, depending on how we want to do it.”

- Lefty Tyler Matzek struck out three in 1-2/3 scoreless innings. After emerging from nowhere to become one of baseball’s best left-handed relievers in 2020, Matzek’s spring has gotten off to a nice start. He’ll be crucial in the Braves’ bullpen as a high-leverage southpaw.

- Ynoa will make his second start (third appearance) Friday against the Twins. Ynoa, who’s vying for a rotation or bullpen spot, has allowed four runs and struck out eight in four innings this spring. Right-hander Touki Toussaint will follow Ynoa.