Braves manager Brian Snitker announced Saturday that the team had four players test positive for COVID-19: first baseman Freddie Freeman, left-hander Will Smith, right-hander Touki Toussaint and utilityman Pete Kozma.
Smith and Toussaint are asymptomatic. Freeman and Kozma have fevers, but Kozma is feeling better, according to Snitker.
The players will be placed on the designated COVID-19 injured list. They can return after testing negative twice at least 24 hours apart and after being 72 hours clear of a fever.
“Every day, we’re going to have to deal with this for the next three months,” Snitker said. “It’s going to be a daily thing.”
Freeman tested negative on the intake test earlier this week. He developed symptoms afterwards and tested positive on Friday. Snitker said he didn’t have any contact with teammates.
“He’s running a fever,” Snitker said. “Talked to him this morning. He’s not feeling great. It’ll be a while before we can get him back.”
The four players are the first known Braves to have tested positive. The team anticipates its next wave of results Saturday evening or Sunday morning.
MLB will not specifically announce a player’s placement on the COVID-19 IL due to privacy laws. The Braves players gave their consent to announce their names.
“I applaud Freddie, Will and all those guys for allowing me to say their names out here,” Snitker said. “It’s a good thing in our industry and shows other players that this is real. This virus is real. It’s something we have to be aware of. It’s something that’s serious if we’re going to continue on and play our games.”
The Braves will continue to educate their players and stress the importance of safety throughout workouts and the season.
“This virus is real,” Snitker said. “It’s nothing to mess with. We talked to our players (Saturday) and had our doctors talk to them. The importance of wearing a mask, social distancing; it’s going to take a while. There were times (Friday) when guys would come out of the batting cage and congregate. Some of these things, they don’t realize they’re doing them. It’s going to take a while.
Gabriel Burns is a general assignment reporter and features writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. After four years on the Braves beat, he's expanded his horizons and covers all sports. You'll find him writing about MLB, NFL, NBA, college football and other Atlanta-centric happenings.