In reality, he had a much worse injury.
“That’s sad to hear, I’m just now finding out about it,” Ronald Acuña said through interpreter Franco García. “That’s really sad. I know what he’s going through, obviously, because I went through it last year. I just wish him a really speedy recovery, and I hope he comes back in full force next year.”
Duvall began the season as the club’s starting center fielder but had recently been splitting time in left field with Eddie Rosario. Duvall is a power bat but hadn’t yet hit his stride this season, batting .213 with a .677 OPS. He had 12 home runs and 36 RBIs.
But over his last 15 games, Duvall had hit .296 with a 1.045 OPS. He hit six doubles and four home runs while driving in nine runs during that span. His emergence was a positive development for a Braves lineup that has consistently crushed opposing pitching since the start of June.
The Braves have Rosario, but president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos likely must acquire another outfielder by the Aug. 2 trade deadline. Since returning from the injured list, Rosario is 9-for-47 with two home runs and five RBIs. He has a .393 OPS this season. Duvall is a right-handed hitter, so he and Rosario balanced out one another.
The long-term picture could be sad for fans: It’s possible that Duvall, a free agent after this season, has played his final game in a Braves uniform. While he hadn’t hit up to his standard this season, he was a large part of last year’s World Series run. And he’s a bat who could’ve gotten hot at any time.
Acquired from the Reds in 2018, Duvall has hit .280 with a .749 OPS over parts of five seasons with Atlanta. He has 54 home runs and 133 RBIs over 272 games with the club. The Braves let him go to the Marlins before acquiring him again at last year’s trade deadline.
Duvall has had big moments for the Braves. Perhaps most memorable: His grand slam in Game 5 of the World Series versus the Astros.
The Braves on Sunday recalled infielder Mike Ford to take Duvall’s roster spot. If the Braves start Rosario in left field, Marcell Ozuna and Heredia would be among the other outfielders on the 26-man roster. Ozuna isn’t a good defender and has been the team’s designated hitter. Heredia is 8-for-63 with three home runs this season.
Before Duvall’s injury, the Braves’ group of position players seemed set, for the most part. They are one of baseball’s most talented lineups, even without Duvall hitting like he has in the past.
Now all eyes are on Anthopoulos, who has gained a reputation for making the moves necessary to put his team in position for postseason runs.
Michael Harris and his hobbies
Michael Harris went golfing three days last week. This, of course, usually doesn’t happen – it only did this time because Harris was enjoying the All-Star break.
Usually, the schedule is too busy. Before that, he hadn’t golfed in almost two months.
“Had a little bit of rust the first time out,” Harris said. “It was good to get out there, get away from baseball a little bit.”
Hobbies away from the ballpark are beneficial when playing a sport that is such a daily grind. In addition to golfing, Harris loves bowling and playing video games.
“You got to do other things to clear your mind because baseball can drain you if you think about it too much,” Harris said. “If things aren’t going the way you want them to go, it can really drain you and cause more failure to you. Just finding other things to do to get your mind off of it, it’s actually really good.”
Harris said he’s a “good enough” bowler. He began bowling more often when he got his bowling balls in 2020 and estimated his highest score is 274 or 276.
When speaking to reporters in March, he said he hit a 347-yard drive on the golf course. Harris’ friend recently informed him the ball may have gone farther.
“He heard the interview and he said it might’ve been actually 370 because it had a little help from the cart path, if you know what I mean,” Harris said.
Austin Riley’s big change
In just a few years, Austin Riley has developed into a great hitter.
Asked what he’s doing now that he didn’t when he debuted in 2019, Riley said this Saturday: “I think I’m able to make those in-game adjustments when pitchers are making the adjustments on me. I think that’s been the biggest thing is just day-to-day game planning on a pitcher and understanding what they’re trying to do to me.”
Riley entered Sunday on a 15-game hitting streak. He had 28 home runs and 63 RBIs.
“You see (the numbers), but I try not to think about them,” Riley said. “I try to go out there and just put up good at-bats and kind of let everything else take care of itself.”
Braves chase down Mets
After play June 1, the Braves were 10 ½ games behind the Mets. They entered Sunday a half-game behind New York.
Before this, the Braves’ smallest deficit in the division was one game back, which they were after play on April 12.
If the Braves win the division in a couple months, they will have erased their biggest deficit to win a division title. Their current record is erasing a 10-game deficit in 1993.
After Saturday’s game, Snitker said he watches the standings “every now and then” during this time of year.
“This is the time of year where the games are all big,” Snitker said.