‘It’s unknown territory’: Braves’ Max Fried dealing with first concussion

MIAMI – Braves pitcher Max Fried is dealing with this for the first time. He must try to be careful with sunlight and around screens. He’s feeling out everything as he goes.

He had never had a concussion – until recently.

“I would say it’s unknown territory, right?” Fried said Friday in Miami. “I don’t have anything from prior experience to know how I’m supposed to feel or what I should be looking to or looking forward to. It’s just kind of a day-by-day process where I’m just trying to be as honest as I can with how I feel, and letting the doctors and trainers do their job.”

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After his head slammed on the ground in the bottom of the third inning of his last start, Fried underwent in-game concussion testing and passed. He eventually finished six innings and felt fine.

He received further evaluation after that start and again the next morning. It turned out that he had a concussion.

“Just had some persistent headaches and stuff like that,” Fried said.

Fried said medical professionals have directed him to stay away from screens and avoid sunlight. (The second part is no easy feat in Miami).

“Basically, what they told me is, if it at any time becomes overwhelming or becomes a little too much, just get out of the situation and just give yourself a break, and be very honest with yourself,” Fried said. “It’s trying to ride that fine line of doing the most that you can to try to test yourself, but when it becomes overwhelming to take a step back and relax.”

Manager Brian Snitker said Fried tried to throw a bullpen session Wednesday in Boston and “just wasn’t right.” The Braves remain cautious as concussions are not to be taken lightly.

Fried’s concussion occurred on a play in which he fell to the ground trying to grab the baseball and throw it home. His head hit the ground hard, and he said he “whipped” his neck on the play.

“He had a funny look about him there a couple days after that,” Snitker said Friday.

The Braves and Fried wanted to ensure the left-hander is 100% when he returns. “Not trying to rush it,” Fried said. The Braves knew he wouldn’t pitch versus the Marlins and put him on the concussion injured list to add more bullpen help. Fried, an All-Star this season, has a 2.60 ERA over 22 starts.

Fried is eligible to come off the injured list Monday, when the Braves began a four-game series with the Mets at Truist Park. Asked if he will be ready for that series, Fried said: “I don’t want to put any timetables on anything, but I’m going to do everything that I can to get back as soon as I can.” Snitker said Fried will hopefully return during the team’s coming seven-game homestand next week.

Without Fried, Jake Odorizzi (Friday), Ian Anderson (Game 1 on Saturday), Spencer Strider (Game 2 on Saturday) and Charlie Morton (Sunday) are the Braves’ four starters in Miami.

The Braves need Fried the rest of the way. They want to ensure this is properly handled, with the pitcher’s safety being most important.

“It’s been different,” Fried said. “Obviously it’s not like an ankle (injury) or anything where you can say it’s just one week and you get to come back. It’s challenging. I want to be out there, I want to pitch. But at the same time, I know that (if) you come back too soon, and I come out after two or three innings, the ‘pen has to come in and cover me for a lot of it. And if something happens, you’re looking at a lot longer time (out). It’s just more about making sure you go through everything the right, proper way so this is a short-term issue instead of a long-term issue.”