680 THE FAN, ATLANTA – Reliever Will Smith, who has been out with COVID since the Braves returned to Summer Camp at long last has been cleared to return. Asymptomatic all along, Smith had to go through the protocols and get two negative tests in a more than 24 hour span, in addition to passing other benchmarks along the way until he was able to rejoin his teammates. On Sunday, he was finally cleared and got back on a mound and threw a side here in Atlanta. While the timeline for his return to the Majors is still not clear, Brian Snitker said the team hopes to have him back by the time they leave for their next road trip, which would be a week from Friday to Philadelphia. “Oh man, that’ll be big” the skipper added, knowing he’ll soon be adding yet another All-Star closer to the already deep and talented bunch.
Back in November, the Braves added the 30 year old reliever, signing the free agent to a three year, $40 million dollar deal, that also includes a $13 million dollar option for the 2023 season. The native of Newnan, GA represented the Giants in the Midsummer Classic last summer, posting a perfect 6-0 record, with a 2.76 ERA in 63 appearances, with 34 saves for San Francisco. In the meantime, until Smith is ramped up to return, the team will continue to move forward with three lefties in the pen, including AJ Minter who came up with back to back strikeouts to preserve a one run deficit yesterday, giving his team a chance for the late inning heroics once again.
Meanwhile, Snit said both starting catchers have tested negative, but remain in the Atlanta area, not feeling well. Still being in the incubation period, the team will continue to monitor their health and symptoms and await further test results. In the meantime, Alex Jackson and William Contreras will hold down the fort behind the plate. Sunday night, Contreras will be behind the plate for his first Major League start, while Sean Newcomb takes the hill as he gets his wish, having an opportunity to return to the Atlanta rotation.
Kevin McAlpin has covered the Braves since 2012 for @680TheFan and the @BravesRadioNet