Freddie Freeman among four Braves to test positive for COVID-19

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.”

Braves hitting coach Kevin Seitzer wears a mask while watching batting practice on Saturday, July 4, 2020. (Hyosub Shin /


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Saturday's news was the Braves' first dose of the new reality. The virus continues to impact team and individual sports as they attempt to return.

Numerous MLB, NBA and MLS players have tested positive ahead of league restarts. The same goes for individual sports, the latest instance being famed NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson, whose positive test forced him out of the weekend's Brickyard 400.

MLB announced Friday that 19 of the 30 teams had at least one positive test in the first wave of testing. The overall rate was lower than expected: 31 of the 3,185 player/staff  samples were positive (1.2%), which surprised Snitker.

The Braves will continue to educate their players and stress the importance of safety throughout workouts and the season.

Credit: AJC

Video: Nick Markakis talks about the Braves and the coronavirus on Saturday. Video courtesy of the Atlanta Braves

“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.

"The thing the guys have to realize, and we've told them, just because you test positive, and you get over it, you're still susceptible. Guys have gotten it more than once. We have to be careful all year. It's going to be the new normal for the next three months."

The Braves began reporting to camp this week. Friday marked the first team workout. The 60-game MLB season is scheduled to begin in three weeks.

» More AJC coverage of the coronavirus outbreak