Braves starter Kyle Wright will begin season on IL as he finishes building up

NORTH PORT, Fla. — The Braves have decided to give Kyle Wright more time to ramp up for the regular season.

This means Wright – who is still regaining full form after a January cortisone injection put him behind – will start the season on the 15-day injured list.

“Just kind of gives me the chance to build all the way up and feel extra strength and endurance,” Wright said Sunday. “I’m happy with where I’m at, but I think a little more time just kind of makes sense. We want to finish strong, not just try to be a hero this first month. Good call.”

Added manager Brian Snitker: “We don’t want to be playing catch-up. We want to make sure he’s firmly entrenched in what he’s doing before we get him going. So I think it’s the smart thing to do.”

Wright and the team talked about how this would be better for him in the long run. To achieve their goals this season, the Braves need Wright.

So, what’s a few more days?

Wright said the tentative plan is this: He’ll start a minor-league exhibition game Thursday. Then he’ll make a start for Triple-A Gwinnett in Norfolk, Virginia. This would put Wright on track to start sometime during the Braves’ first homestand at Truist Park, which goes from April 6 through April 12.

Teams can backdate an injured-list placement a maximum of three days. So Wright’s 15 days will begin Monday, and he will be eligible to come off the injured list April 11, when the Braves host the Reds for the second of three games.

This means Jared Shuster and Dylan Dodd – the lefty prospects competing for the final spot in the starting rotation this spring – will both debut in the first turn through the rotation. Shuster will start April 2 in Washington, and Dodd will pitch April 4 in St. Louis. The Braves will put Shuster on the opening-day roster, but they will likely carry an extra reliever until they add Dodd prior to his start. (Dodd and Shuster are “non-roster” guys in spring, meaning the Braves don’t have to option them if they don’t make the team out of camp.)

Wright is bummed to know he won’t be on the opening-day roster and won’t pitch in the season’s second series versus St. Louis, as was originally the plan. In an interview Friday, a day before he pitched, he said he still felt he was on track for that.

“Me, I wanted to try to make it happen,” Wright said Sunday. “But it’ll make way more sense in the long run taking care of things now, doing things the right way – even though I feel like I could probably do it. Getting a little strength, a little extra endurance, being able to be full-go once I make my first start, is really probably the best thing for the team, too. Not trying to put the bullpen in a bad spot or if anything speeds up (with me), whatever it may be.”

Wright has made two Grapefruit League starts this spring. On Saturday, he allowed three runs, including giving up two homers, over four innings versus the Twins in Fort Myers. The wind might’ve contributed a bit, though Wright didn’t want to make excuses and said he could’ve made better pitches. But he said his curveball was “way better” than in his first start.

One thing that makes this slight change of plans easier for Wright to accept: Shuster and Dodd have pitched really well in camp. The Braves have the depth to cover Wright while he finishes building up.

“To be honest with you, that’s a huge part of it, too, knowing that there’s a lot of guys that have thrown really well,” Wright said. “You want to see them get an opportunity, too, that you feel like they earned and deserve. It allows me to be a little bit more selfish. I don’t like to use that word, but it allows me to make sure that I’m going to be healthy in the long run, which ultimately is better for the team, I think, if I’m healthy and can go from start to finish the whole season.”