The Atlanta Braves got good news today: both catchers returned from the IL, and their veteran clubhouse leader decided to play.
This morning the Atlanta Braves made a series of roster moves, beginning with the activation of catcher’s Travis d’Arnaud and Tyler Flowers. Alex Jackson and William Contreras were optioned to Gwinnett to clear 30-man slots for the backstops.
The club also activated newly acquired outfield Scott Schebler and optioned reliever Chad Sobotka to the 30-man pool.
The Braves only activated Sobotka after the DFA of Mike Foltynewicz, and it’s likely he and one of the catchers remain with the team as part of the three-man taxi-squad in use this season.
I haven’t seen tonight’s lineup card, but Atlanta signed d’Arnaud as their primary catcher last winter, and I expect him to start tonight while Flowers assumes the backup catcher job,
The Braves acquired Schebler to act as the left-handed complement to Adam Duvall in the outfield; he’ll be on the bench tonight in case the Braves need a lefty bat.
Schebler’s tour with Atlanta may not last long, as we found out a few minutes ago that Nick Markakis asked for and received permission to return to the team.
Veteran leader Markakis returns
MLB’s opt-out procedures allow any player not classified as a high risk for severe COVID-19 complications include the right to apply for reinstatement from the restricted list but had a cutoff date of 1 August.
Atlanta Braves veteran outfielder regretted his decision almost as soon as he made it. As Markakis watched the Braves’ season begin, he realized he missed the game and his teammates too much not to play.
David O’Brien opined in the Athletic (subscription required) that Matt Adams wouldn’t play as often after Markakis returns. I’m not sure that’s the best option, but we know Manager Brian Snitker loves having him in the lineup; perhaps Adams becomes a pinch hitter.
Markakis can get out of bed on Christmas morning and go 2-for-4, so I don’t expect him to take too long to find his stroke. The addition of Schebler (if they keep him after Markakis is ready) gives the Braves enough outfield depth to cover any contingency, so it’s unlikely he’ll see a lot of time patrolling left.
That’s a Wrap
The return of d’Arnaud and Flowers won’t be greeted nearly as well as the news that Markakis decided to come back. I suspect the idea that Markakis should return didn’t grow without encouragement from the teammates he spoke to.
We know by now that Markakis will be better in left than Marcell Ozuna, almost anyone on the bench clears that bar, he’ll catch anything close to him, and that’s an improvement.
Schebler’s time with Atlanta may come to an end when Markakis is ready, or they may keep him with the team. MLB and the union are discussing allowing teams to carry a 30-man roster all season, giving them space to keep him on board. I can’t see the union complaining about that, but who knows?