Braves experiment with piped-in crowd noise during intrasquad game

Credit: AJC

Braves manager Brian Snitker comments on crowd noise played over the Truist Park loudspeakers during intrasquad game. (Courtesy of Atlanta Braves)

Credit: AJC

The Braves completed their second intrasquad scrimmage on Tuesday evening, this time with the home team defeating the away team 5-0 in six innings.

For the first time, the Braves experimented with piped-in crowd noise. Every franchise is figuring out how it will handle empty stadiums this season, and one clear course of action will be pumping in crowd noise to avoid awkward silences and the broadcasts catching too much player chatter.

Max Fried, who started for the “home” team, said he didn’t really think much about the sound.

“I guess it kind of felt the same,” he said. “There was at least something going on instead of hearing a lot of nothing. So I guess it helped a little bit.”

When asked about the noise, manager Brian Snitker commented similarly, though he admitted it was annoying initially.

“It’s like anything else, I didn’t notice the noise as the game went on,” he said. “In the beginning, it was a little irritating. But as we went on, I didn’t notice it, quite honestly. It’s one of those things that after we do it, you’re not going to notice it. I think it’s going to do what they want it to do, which I assume is drowning out some of what’s going to be said.”

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Other notes from Tuesday:

• Fried allowed three hits across four scoreless innings. He threw 65 pitches and has one outing remaining before the regular season.

During spring training, Fried was working on his change-up, hoping its growth could help him take another step forward. The pitch is still a work in progress, as Tuesday showed, but Fried is happy with where it’s trending.

“It’s good,” Fried said. “It’s not consistent yet. It has some good and bad days. Today I threw a couple – not very many good ones. But for the most part it’s a work in progress. I’ve just got to keep throwing it. The more experience I get the more comfortable I’ll be with it.”

Snitker added: “You add another weapon like that – I know he and Cole (Hamels) have been talking a lot about that – it’s just going to make him that much more of a complete pitcher.”

• Marcell Ozuna doubled off Bryse Wilson, picking up where he left off Monday when he had two hits off Mike Soroka. His three hits in two nights are already more than he had in spring training (2-for-24).

• Among the game’s highlights was Ozzie Albies, who crushed a right-handed home run off Chris Rusin in the fourth inning. He also scored a run. It came 24 hours after Albies recorded two hits (and a steal) against Soroka.

Even with baseball stripped of physical interactions due to health protocols, Albies hasn’t had issues exuding the energy for which he’s known.

“It’s always fun to watch Ozzie play baseball,” Snitker said. “I could tell everybody, if you play the game like Ozzie, you’re going to play it right. I don’t know if anybody has more fun playing baseball than that kid. It’s just what he does. He’s a joy to be around. A wonderful young man. You just watch him as he continues to grow and get better and better.”

• Pitching prospect Tucker Davidson pitched two scoreless innings. He retired Ozuna, Austin Riley and Dansby Swanson 1-2-3 in the fifth. Davidson, who’s yet to pitch in the majors, could become an important factor in the truncated schedule. He’ll be near the front of the line of call-up candidates when the Braves dip into their depth.

Snitker mentioned Davidson had developed a slider over the break. He raved about the southpaw, who might’ve been the Braves’ top minor-league breakout last season. Davidson had a 2.15 ERA with 134 strikeouts in 129-2/3 innings across two levels, positioning him for a possible debut this season.

“I don’t remember that (slider) in spring training,” Snitker said. “That’s a nasty pitch. ... I like getting this kid in camp as we’re trying to fill some voids. He’s started, he’s rostered, he could definitely help us in bridging games with the potential to start. We’re going to keep pitching him because that stuff tonight was pretty good.”

• Jacob Webb seems to have dropped weight over the break. Snitker praised Webb’s performance from last season and said he’s among the pitchers the Braves “will need at some point, if not in the beginning (of the season).”

Webb was a pleasant surprise in 2019. The rookie had a 1.39 ERA in 36 games before a right-elbow impingement ended his season.

The Braves will reportedly sign former All-Star outfielder Yasiel Puig, pending his physical. Puig replaces Nick Markakis, who decided against playing this season, and gives the Braves much-needed help against right-handed pitching.

• Snitker named Soroka the Braves' opening-day starter Tuesday afternoon. Soroka will become the youngest opening-day starter in franchise history. The Braves open at the Mets on July 24.

Fried has been pitching the day after Soroka, meaning he’d be aligned as the Braves’ No. 2 starter.

• The Braves will hold two more games this week – Wednesday and Saturday – before facing the Marlins in a pair of exhibitions next week. Wednesday is expected to showcase a large number of pitchers while going around nine innings.

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