Braves facing some personnel decisions ahead

The trade deadline has passed, but the Braves likely will face some interesting personnel decisions in the days ahead.

They’ll have to decide how to clear a spot on the 25-man roster when shortstop Dansby Swanson returns from the injured list. And they’ll have to decide how long to stick with Kevin Gausman in the pitching rotation after his latest start inflated his ERA to 6.19.

Swanson, who was eligible to be activated Saturday, remains sidelined with an injured right heel that has been slower to heal than the Braves projected.

“It’s a big bruise, and it just takes time,” manager Brian Snitker said Saturday. “I’m hoping sooner rather than later.”

Snitker said Swanson, who hasn’t played since July 23,  likely will get a few at-bats in a minor-league rehabilitation game before he is activated.

When Swanson returns, the Braves could face a difficult roster decision if they stick with 13 pitchers and no one else goes on the injured list. That raises the question of whether Austin Riley might be sent to Triple-A Gwinnett, as unthinkable as that would have been when he hit 16 home runs in a 48-game stretch earlier this season. Another option would be to send Johan Camargo to Gwinnett.

Riley hit his first homer since July 6 in Friday's 5-2 loss to Cincinnati and another fly ball to the center-field wall.

“You can’t think like that,” Riley said when asked about the possibility of being optioned to Gwinnett to make roster room for Swanson. “You take it day by day, and when the opportunity happens or whatever happens, I’m just going to go out there and keep working and get better.”

Gausman’s past two starts, in which he has allowed a total of 17 hits and 11 runs across 11-2/3 innings, raises the question of whether the Braves soon will return Mike Foltynewicz from Gwinnett for another chance in the big-league rotation.

On Saturday, Snitker said Gausman’s next start remains scheduled for Wednesday at Minnesota.

“Right now, we’re just on turn,” Snitker said.

Snitker said there is still no timetable for a Foltynewicz return, but said the reports on him from Gwinnett are good.

Gausman (3-7) allowed five runs on eight hits in 4-2/3 innings against the Reds on Friday at SunTrust Park.

“Obviously, I’m not having the year that anybody thought I would,” Gausman said. “I’m not in the situation I want to be right now. But … I’m going to get the ball again in five days, hopefully.

“That’s my focus, to go out there and use those days in between to work on some things.”

Riley has been working extensively with hitting coach Kevin Seitzer and has played mostly against left-handed pitchers recently. After striking out in 30 of 64 at-bats in July, he didn’t strike out in three at-bats Friday.

“It’s a game of failure. I know coming into this it was going to happen,” Riley said of his recent struggles. “Obviously, you didn’t want it to happen for that long.

“But it’s a process. You’ve just got to take it day by day and at-bat by at-bat and pitch by pitch and keep plugging, and things will pull forward.”

Snitker said Riley “swung the bat a lot better” Friday and “had some good takes.”

“He’s staying positive, but it’s not easy to go through that,” Snitker said of Riley’s struggles. “He’ll be all the better for having gone through that, but it’s a tough go.”

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