Depth will be the key in a 60 game schedule

KEVIN MCALPIN
680 THE FAN, ATLANTA – When it comes to playing a 60 sprint, depth is going to be key. In addition, everyone adhering to the new health and safety protocols will be paramount for Major League Baseball to achieve its goal of completing a 2020 season. So far, so good on both fronts for the Braves, even after things got off to a bit of a tough start. We know Freddie Freeman, Will Smith, Touki Toussaint and Pete Kozma continue to improve after dealing with COVID-19 when camps opened up a week and a half ago.

The Atlanta Braves look to Austin Riley for depth in the infield. (John Amis/Associated Press)

While the team is hesitant to put any expectations on when they could rejoin their teammates, Brian Snitker said this weekend he isn’t ruling Freddie Freeman out for the start of the regular season, just 11 days from now. In the case of Will Smith, the Braves are in an enviable position with two fellow All-Star closers in their pen in Mark Melancon and Shane Greene. Luke Jackson could also be utilized in later game situations, in the event Smith isn’t ready by the opener. When it comes to first base, Austin Riley is among a handful of Braves that could fill in there in the event Freeman isn’t ready. Johan Camargo, Adam Duvall and Charlie Culberson could also be considered candidates, with Riley likely finding himself as the front runner at this point. We know nobody will ever “replace” Freeman, both offensively and defensively at first base, but it’s good to know the team has a number of backup options, just in case.

As far as the new health and safety protocols are concerned, one thing that stood out this weekend talking to guys like Ozzie Albies and Adam Duvall via Zoom was the fact they were still wearing their masks. Ron Washington said he wasn’t surprised at all to see the players taking this extremely seriously. “We’re a class act, our young kids are a class act” Washington said on Sunday. “They know what’s at stake here and they’re taking this seriously” Wash added. When it comes to guys who really appreciate seeing the young guys following all the new rules to a t, the 68 year old third base coach certainly appreciates everyone going the extra mile. Everyone’s had to adapt and alter their routines on the field, in the clubhouse and in their daily lives. When it comes to Wash, knowing he was in a higher risk category for COVID-19, quitting smoking was a priority. As a matter of fact, today marks four months since Washington had his last cigarette. And that’s a milestone that should certainly be celebrated and recognized.

Meanwhile, the team plays under the lights for the first time at Truist Park tonight. Mike Soroka and Josh Tomlin will start the intersquad contest that will likely go about six innings or so.

The Atlanta Braves lookKevin McAlpin has covered the Braves since 2012 for @680TheFan and the @BravesRadioNet.

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