Braves place closer Kenley Jansen on injured list with irregular heartbeat

PHILADELPHIA – As they move toward the All-Star break, the Braves will be without their closer.

The club on Tuesday placed Kenley Jansen on the 15-day injured list with an irregular heartbeat. The Braves made the move retroactive to June 27.

“He’s been really, really good,” manager Brian Snitker said. “He’s been an unbelievable go-to guy there.”

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Jansen has managed an irregular heartbeat for a long time, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. The Braves on Monday made the decision to put him on the injured list. They expect this to be a short injured-list stint.

Jansen will be eligible to return July 12. Asked why he expects it to be something that should take only those couple of weeks, Snitker said: “That’s just what the doctors and everything say, just with the past experiences with it.”

In 2018, Jansen went on the injured list with an irregular heartbeat Aug. 10. He returned after the minimum amount of time and pitched Aug. 20.

While he’s on the injured list now, Jansen can still throw bullpen sessions and keep his arm going. That is why the Braves believe this will be a short stint.

They recalled right-hander Jesus Cruz to take Jansen’s roster spot.

According to an MLB.com story written at the time, Jansen in 2018 underwent a catheter ablation to “correct a defect that triggered an irregular heartbeat.” Jansen also underwent a catheter ablation in the left atrium of his heart after the 2012 season, the story said.

The Braves expect Jansen to be OK. He has dealt with this for a long time.

Jansen blew his fourth save Sunday but ranks third in baseball with 20 saves. He has a 3.58 ERA and has provided a huge boost to the Braves’ bullpen this season. He has looked like himself during different stretches this season, like when he allowed only one run over 14-2/3 innings from April 13 to May 17.

With 370 career saves, Jansen ranks No. 10 on the all-time saves leaderboard. He converted his first nine save opportunities of the season before blowing one May 18.

“We’ve been trying to take care of him and give him days and not overwork him too much,” Snitker said. “It’s hard when you get on a run. A guy like that, he’s a Hall of Famer. He wants to pitch.”

With Jansen out, the Braves could use Will Smith – last year’s closer – and A.J. Minter to close games. Minter has surrendered only six earned runs over 32 innings this season, but he has surrendered a run in three of his past five appearances. Smith has a 3.41 ERA over 29 frames. Smith has 88 career saves, Minter has 20.

Snitker said he will use both Smith and Minter to close games. He’ll decide who he deploys on a nightly basis, and both could appear in the same game.

Before the 13-pitcher maximum set in recently, Cruz allowed only a run over six innings for the Braves.

When the lockout ended, president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos made the bullpen deeper. It has come in handy.

“It’s huge for everybody,” Snitker said. “That’s just part of this thing, is having enough pitching and all. You can’t enough, that’s for sure. We prove that every year that we try and get through all this, that you just can never have enough pitching.”

Swanson will stay with Excel Sports Management

In a statement provided to MLB.com, Freddie Freeman said his representation remains a “fluid” situation. He has been with Excel Sports Management.

The agency also represents Dansby Swanson.

In the Braves’ clubhouse Tuesday, Swanson told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he is staying with Excel and will never leave the agency. He said Freeman’s decision on representation will not affect his own thinking.

Swanson is set to become a free agent at season’s end.

Excel has come into focus because of the way it handled Freeman’s negotiations with the Braves. According to a person with knowledge of the situation, Casey Close of Excel on March 12 told the Braves the agency wanted a resolution by the end of that day.

The Braves were told they had two options for contracts to offer Freeman. Those two offers: Six years for $175 million and five years for $165 million. The Braves were also told they had one hour to get back to Excel about which they were choosing.

The Braves declined to do either, and it became clear, one person familiar said, that both sides were moving on. Freeman eventually signed with the Dodgers after the Braves pivoted and traded for Matt Olson.

The Braves offered Freeman five years and $135 million last August, then five years and $140 million in March.

Acuña stays in Atlanta

Ronald Acuña (bruised left foot) did not travel to Philadelphia with the Braves. He stayed in Atlanta to receive treatment.

Snitker said Acuña, who is still sore, could join the Braves as soon as Wednesday.

“He’s getting better,” the manager said.

Acuña on Sunday said he couldn’t put any pressure on his foot. He was wheeling around in a medical scooter with his left leg elevated that day.

Acuna on Saturday fouled a ball off the top of his foot. He didn’t suffer a fracture, but was still in a lot of pain.

Snitker’s gesture to Dave Martinez

The managers of the teams that meet in the World Series are the respective managers for the National League and American League in the next year’s All-Star game.

Nationals manager Dave Martinez found himself on the unfortunate end of this tradition. His club won the World Series in 2019, but MLB didn’t hold the All-Star game in 2020 because of COVID-19.

Because of that, Snitker asked Martinez if he would be a coach on his staff for this year’s game at Dodger Stadium.

“I told him, ‘You’re a world champion manager, and you didn’t get a chance to celebrate it,’” Snitker said. “I hated it for him. After what I’ve been going through and being able to experience, he didn’t have that. I’ve known him a long time, and it’s like I wanted to give him the ability to celebrate what he did and what he accomplished. I’m really glad that he said yes. I talked to him, and he immediately said yes. It made me feel good.”

Martinez and Dodgers manager Dave Roberts will join Snitker in the dugout. Snitker’s Braves coaching staff will accompany them.

Injury updates

  • Before playing Monday, Eddie Rosario had gone 3-for-10 with two RBIs in his first two rehab games with Triple-A Gwinnett. Snitker said the reports have been positive. “It’s just going to be getting his body back ready for everyday playing, with his legs and bat and the timing element,” Snitker said. Rosario went 0-for-4 on Tuesday.
  • Tyler Matzek on Tuesday was set to begin a rehab assignment with Low-A Augusta, but their game was postponed. He is coming back from a left shoulder impingement.
  • Right-hander Jay Jackson (right lat strain) was transferred to Triple-A Gwinnett to continue his rehab assignment.