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Braves’ rotation takes another hit as Max Fried placed on IL


The Atlanta Braves’ season-long rotation woes continued Tuesday when Max Fried, the top healthy starter, was placed on the 10-day injured list.

The latest blow to the rotation could accelerate the team’s plans to have Cole Hamels rushed into action for his 2020 debut.

Fried had been the only current healthy member of the projected rotation before the season began.

Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos said Fried has a left-side muscle spasm in his lumbar spine. Anthopoulos said he hopes Fried can return from the IL as soon as he is eligible on Sept. 16.

Fried said his velocity “was definitely down” after he allowed three runs in five innings against the Washington Nationals on Saturday night. He is 6-0 with a 1.98 ERA after not taking a decision in the 10-4 loss.

Before the injury, Fried excelled as the team’s top starter, filling the void left when the Braves lost opening day starter Mike Soroka to a torn right Achilles tendon suffered on Aug. 3 against the New York Mets.

Soroka’s season-ending injury was only the most notable of a staggering series of setbacks that have rocked the rotation.

Former ace Mike Foltynewicz was designated for assignment and then assigned to the team’s alternate training site after he was not signed by another club. The move came after the right-hander gave up three home runs, four walks and six runs in his 2020 debut, a 14-5 loss at Tampa Bay.

Hamels, the left-hander signed to add needed experience to the rotation, has not pitched this season after having a sore shoulder in spring training and then developing triceps tendinitis. Hamels threw his first live batting practice after Sunday’s game.

Another veteran, Felix Hernandez, opted out of the 2020 season after it appeared he might win the No. 5 spot in the rotation. Also, left-hander Sean Newcomb was 0-2 with an 11.20 ERA in four starts.

Anthopoulos acquired journeyman Tommy Milone from Baltimore at the trade deadline but was unable to add more help for the rotation.

Instead, the Braves have plugged in such pitchers as Josh Tomlin and Huascar Ynoa and have managed to remain in first place in the NL East. Their lead over the Philadelphia Phillies shrank to two games after Monday’s 5-4 loss to the Miami Marlins in 10 innings.

The Braves may rush Hamels into action. He will throw again on Thursday at the team’s alternate training site and could be activated when Atlanta plays at Baltimore next week.

“I think it’s just a matter of he knows himself and his body,” Anthopoulos said. “… This whole year hasn’t been a normal year in terms of ramp-up and prep.”

Hamels impressed the Braves in his workout on Sunday, raising hopes he can still help the team’s drive for its fourth straight NL East title.

“As long as Cole is healthy and he can continue to build up we’re going to do what’s best for him and the team as well,” Anthopoulos said.

The Braves recalled right-hander Kyle Wright to start Tuesday night’s game against Miami. Right-hander Jacob Webb was reinstated from the 45-day IL, adding another arm to the bullpen. Utility infielder Charlie Culberson was designated for assignment.

Anthopoulos said he hopes Culberson can be added to the team’s camp at its alternate training site at Triple-A Gwinnett.

Young Blue Jays say they aren’t intimidated by top seed Rays

Blue Jays roster and schedule
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) When the Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays opened the pandemic-delayed season a little over two months ago, there was little to indicate the AL East rivals might meet again to begin the playoffs.

While the Rays launched the truncated 60-game schedule with expectations of making a strong bid for their first division title in a decade, the Blue Jays generally were viewed as an immensely talented young team still years away from postseason contention.

Tampa Bay didn’t disappoint, shrugging off a slow start to go a league-best 40-20 and claim the No. 1 seed in the AL playoffs that begin Tuesday.

Lefty Blake Snell, who’ll start Game 1 of the best-of-three wild-card series against Toronto at Tropicana Field, also isn’t surprised that the eighth-seeded Blue Jays earned a spot, too.

The Rays won six of 10 games between the teams during the regular season, but were outscored 48-44 and outhomered 17-11.

And while Toronto (32-28) lacks the playoff experience Tampa Bay gained last season when the Rays beat Oakland in the AL wild-card game before falling to Houston in the divisional round, the Blue Jays are building with exciting young players such as Cavan Biggio, Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

“They’ve got a lot of young guys who can ball over there,” Snell said. “It’s going to be fun to compete and see how we do.”

Rays defensive whiz Kevin Kiermaier said Tampa Bay, in the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the second time franchise history, will not take the Blue Jays lightly.

“We know we’re playing a real good team,” Kiermaier said. “It’s not going to be easy, regardless of what a team is seeded.”

The Blue Jays, who’ll start right-hander Matt Shoemaker, aren’t conceding anything.

Bichette said he and his teammates respect how good Tampa Bay is, but are not intimidated by facing the No. 1 seed.

“I would say that we didn’t care who we played. I would say that we didn’t mind playing Tampa, that’s for sure. We’re familiar with them. We’ve played them well,” Bichette said.

“I think we’re confident in our ability against them. Our talent matches up well,” Bichette added. “We think if we play well we’ve got a good chance.”


The stands at Tropicana Field will be empty, leaving players to wonder what the atmosphere will be like for the playoffs.

Tampa Bay routinely rank at or near the bottom of the majors in attendance, but usually pack the stands in the domed stadium during the postseason.

“It will be different,” Bichette said. “Normally when you think of your first postseason you think 40,000, you think about not being able to think it’s so loud, stuff like that.”

The Blue Jays open the playoffs near where they hold spring training in Dunedin, Florida. It’s been a winding road for Toronto, which played its home games in Buffalo, New York, at the site of its Triple-A affiliate after the Canadian government barred the Blue Jays from hosting games at their own stadium because of coronavirus concerns.


Tampa Bay’s five-game loss to Houston in last year’s divisional round was a source of motivation during the regular season.

“It definitely lit a fire under everybody. It really showed us we belong. … We gave them a tough series,” second baseman Brandon Lowe said.

“We won the wild-card game. We belong in the postseason. I think that did a lot for us to understand that we should be in the postseason and we can go a lot farther. We know what to expect this time around. I think everyone in our clubhouse expects to be playing until the end of October,” he said.


Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash has the Rays in the playoffs for the second time. His close friend and former Rays third base and bench coach Charlie Montoyo is in his second year as manager of the Blue Jays, who last made the playoffs in 2016.

“Pretty special,” Cash said of his relationship with Montoyo.

“I really learned a lot from him being around him. The way he carried himself. His hand print is throughout this organization,” Cash added. “A pretty big impact and a positive one. … When they clinched I talked to him, we face-timed at 1:30 in the morning. I’m so happy for him.”