Braves reactivate catchers d’Arnaud, Flowers

Travis D'Arnaud on Braves pitchers
Travis D'Arnaud on Braves pitchers

As expected, the Braves regained both their veteran catchers before Wednesday’s home opener.

Travis d’Arnaud and Tyler Flowers missed the first five games after exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms in the days leading into the regular season. Neither player tested negative, but they were placed on the COVID-designated injured list and stayed in Atlanta while the Braves completed their first road trip.

“They’re going through the game plan and excited to be back,” manager Brian Snitker said. “They both feel great. We’ll work them both back into it.”

Youngsters Alex Jackson and William Contreras handled catching duties across the first five games. Contreras and Jackson, along with reliever Chad Sobotka, were optioned to the alternate training site in Gwinnett to open space for d’Arnaud, Flowers and newcomer Scott Schebler.

The returning catching tandem is tasked with handling a pitching staff that’s been pedestrian thus far. After Mike Soroka – who started Wednesday – and Max Fried, the Braves’ rotation looks like their greatest weakness early in the campaign.

Flowers, 34, has spent the past four seasons with the Braves, sharing catching duties with Kurt Suzuki, Brian McCann and now d’Arnaud. The Braves signed d’Arnaud, 31, to a two-year deal last winter after he hit .263 with 16 homers and 67 RBIs in 92 games with the Rays.

Their returns weren’t the only good news before the home opener. In addition to the backstops, outfielder Nick Markakis announced he would rejoin the team after deciding against playing three weeks ago. From a leadership and lineup perspective, the Braves improved Wednesday.

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