Braves’ Travis d’Arnaud leaves game due to dizziness, has had four concussions in career

Atlanta Braves' Max Fried (54) speaks with bullpen coach Erick Abreu, center, and catcher Travis d'Arnaud (16) on the mound in the third inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres, Friday, May 17, 2024, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Atlanta Braves' Max Fried (54) speaks with bullpen coach Erick Abreu, center, and catcher Travis d'Arnaud (16) on the mound in the third inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres, Friday, May 17, 2024, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

On the first pitch of the top of the fifth inning, San Diego’s Luis Arraez fouled a ball off of Travis d’Arnaud’s mask. D’Arnaud then stayed crouched with his head down for a moment before taking off his mask and appearing to tinker with it. He cracked smiles to Arraez and home plate umpire Tony Randazzo, who both checked on him. Then d’Arnaud gave a thumbs up toward Max Fried.

D’Arnaud finished that inning, then departed the game. Chadwick Tromp replaced him for the top of the sixth inning.

The Braves said d’Arnaud left the game due to “dizziness.” D’Arnaud was not made available to reporters after the game.

“To me, he kind of stood there on his haunches a little longer,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said of what he noticed when d’Arnaud took the ball off his mask. “I started getting concerned when I saw that, that it might’ve stung him a little bit. And then he came in and he was dizzy. We weren’t gonna take another chance.”

The Braves would be cautious with anyone, but especially d’Arnaud, who has had four concussions in his career. His history with them necessitates extra care in those situations, which are scary for everyone who witnesses them.

Snitker said the Braves’ doctors evaluated d’Arnaud after he exited the game. They ruled out a concussion, though someone could theoretically develop symptoms as time passes. Snitker called it a “head contusion.”

This situation seems more encouraging than last year, when d’Arnaud suffered a concussion and missed a month – and we’ll soon get into the reasons d’Arnaud’s teammates believe he might have avoided the worst-case scenario.

But first, this: There’s a human involved in this. And when something like this happens – especially to someone like d’Arnaud – the focus is on his long-term health and quality of life, not when he might return behind the plate.

“No, absolutely. It’s all about him, and (his quality of life),” Snitker said. “He’s got (two) small children and one on the way. This is about him and doing what’s right for the long-term, and we will take every consideration in doing all that.”

Added Fried: “At this point, you just want to make sure that he’s okay. His health is the first priority.”

Snitker said the Braves will see how d’Arnaud feels on Saturday morning, and they’ll evaluate him again when he arrives to Truist Park. He won’t start Saturday’s game versus the Padres, but Snitker said the Braves will consider this question: If Tromp – the starting catcher with Sean Murphy (oblique strain) and d’Arnaud out – were to suffer an injury, would d’Arnaud even be healthy enough to replace him?

If not, the Braves would likely need to place d’Arnaud on the seven-day injured list for players with concussion symptoms. They can play a man short if an infielder is out – like Austin Riley (left side tightness), for example – but they need a backup catcher. Snitker said utility man Luke Williams would likely have been the emergency catcher if Tromp were injured on Friday, and the manager added that Zack Short, who started at third base in place of Riley, probably would’ve said yes to playing behind the plate if necessary.

Tromp said his level of concern is “not that much.” He said he talked to d’Arnaud after the game, and that d’Arnaud was “in good spirits.” Tromp said he doesn’t think d’Arnaud has a concussion.

“I think it’s more like a feel thing,” Tromp said. “It just depends on how he feels. I think concussions are tough, obviously. I’ve had a couple when I was in the minors, so I know they’re not fun. But I know that when I had a concussion, I knew for sure that I wasn’t – I wasn’t (just) dizzy, I’ll tell you that.”

Added Matt Olson: “I saw him for 30 seconds there after the game, and he seemed fine. Definitely not as in a daze as he was looking last year. Hopefully good, hopefully nothing too serious.”

Did it seem better than last year, when d’Arnaud suffered a concussion?

“Just initial reaction and seeing the way he was shaken up last year, I’m no doctor, but it looked a lot worse,” Olson said. “So, hopefully good news.”

No doubt, though, this was a frightening situation.

“It’s scary for the whole team,” Marcell Ozuna said. “We’re already missing one (catcher), and then we (could) miss another one, so it’s gonna be scary. Everybody knows we have Tromp. … He’s a special dude, too. I spoke to (Travis) and he said he’s a little dizzy and he’s going to be fine.”

Snitker said Murphy will probably begin his rehab assignment on Tuesday. Until then, Tromp is the starting catcher if d’Arnaud is out.

The internal options if d’Arnaud goes on the concussion injured list: Sandy León and Sebastián Rivero have each caught almost the same number of games for Triple-A Gwinnett. And León was lifted in the middle of Gwinnett’s game, which could mean the Braves were keeping him ready in case they need him. Prospect Drake Baldwin, who was in big-league camp with Atlanta, is in Double A.

Is Snitker comfortable with Tromp if he needs to catch every day?

“Well, I’m gonna have to be. Yeah,” Snitker said. “He’s done a nice job. All the pitchers like throwing to him. … We got three guys that we can throw back there and be really, really good.”

The Braves will hope for the best with d’Arnaud, who has been a huge part of their success since he arrived in 2020.

“What he brings every single day, on the field and especially off, rubs off on a lot of guys,” Fried said. “He’s a big leader in that clubhouse for a reason.”