‘It’s been awesome’: Braves’ Austin Riley enjoying fatherhood

Braves third baseman Austin Riley reacts after hitting a solo homer Saturday at Truist Park. Riley became a father for the first time Wednesday. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)



Braves third baseman Austin Riley reacts after hitting a solo homer Saturday at Truist Park. Riley became a father for the first time Wednesday. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Braves third baseman Austin Riley had never experienced anything quite like meeting his son, Eason Michael Riley, for the first time.

“It’s unbelievable,” Riley said. “It’s kind of tough to describe because you don’t know what to expect being a first-timer.”

Last week, Riley traveled from Los Angeles, where the Braves were playing, to Atlanta for the birth of his son. He arrived around an hour late – and found out via text that his son had been born – but was able to experience everything else. In those initial moments, he was only concerned with ensuring his wife, Anna, and the baby were doing well. The good news: Since Wednesday, when Eason joined Austin and Anna, everything has gone smoothly for the Rileys, who are now a family of three.

“In the four days that he’s been here, it’s been a whirlwind,” Riley said. “But it’s been awesome.”

Austin and Anna are first-time parents. Austin tried to prepare for fatherhood as much as possible, but “you just don’t know until he comes.” These are new experiences.

Austin’s older sister has a son who is 6 months old, so he’s practiced a little bit with his nephew. He’s also trying to be like his own father, Mike, was with him and his siblings.

“He was always there and just how patient he was and understanding,” Austin said. “I think that’s been the biggest thing that I’ve taken from him. He enjoys the little things, and I think that’s something I’m going to try to mimic from his standpoint, is just enjoy the little things because time flies, and not taking anything for granted.”

After Eason was born, Braves manager Brian Snitker told his third baseman something: “Baseball will be even more fun now that you have somebody else in your life. It won’t be just about baseball.”

Austin has always believed there are more important things in life than baseball. Eason has given him even more perspective.

“He comes into the world and he’s relying on Anna and I for survival,” Riley said. “He needs us for everything right now, and I think that kind of puts everything in perspective.

“Anna and I are truly, truly blessed.”

Anna’s family was in Atlanta for three days. Austin’s mom, Elisa, arrived Saturday. The Braves are off Monday, but that won’t mean more sleep for Riley.

He’s now the father of a newborn, and he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“We definitely have help, but you definitely want to be there for everything, and you don’t want to miss anything,” Riley said. “The hours of sleep are not there, for sure, but it’s all for good.”

Darren O’Day pitching well for Braves

When spring training opened, Darren O’Day seemed like a likely bet to make the roster. He has validated the Braves’ thinking.

His start to the season: four scoreless innings with three strikeouts. He has allowed only one hit.

He pitched for the Braves in 2019 and 2020, then returned for this season.

“I think he might be throwing the ball as good as I’ve ever been around him,” Snitker said. “He came into spring training and talked to a lot of people about how good he felt. He’s been throwing really well here this year, in spring and here early on this season. He’s probably throwing a little better than he did the last time he was here.”

Ronald Acuña’s rehab continues to go smoothly

Ronald Acuña on Saturday went 2-for-3 with a run, RBI and three walks. Entering Sunday, he was 5-for-12 in four rehab games in Triple-A.

And read into this if you want: Acuña had stolen two bases through four games. The knee seems to be in good shape.

“Looking at some of the videos, I think he might’ve been more active than what you really wanted to see,” Snitker said Saturday, laughing. “If it’s any testament, he’s all over the place and getting after it, just having a ball playing. Everything coming out of it has been really good. It’s all good indications that he’s right where he needs to be.”

Acuña is scheduled to play nine innings in right field Tuesday. The Braves are loosely targeting May 6 for a return to the majors.

Collin McHugh shows perspective

Spencer Strider didn’t record an out in Saturday’s loss and was charged with three earned runs. It looked bad, and was bad, but he had been great all season.

This is all about perspective, and Collin McHugh, who also struggled, provided it after the loss.

“We take pride in being able to shut games down, and we should. We got a lot of talent down there,” McHugh said. “Spencer is a great example of that. These days are going to happen in the big leagues. His young career has a long, bright future ahead of him.

“It’s just a matter of continuing to get a little bit better each and every day.”