The Atlanta Braves have announced that they will be without outfielder Jorge Soler for the NLCS after a positive test for cocaine. This marks the second time in two years that Soler has been suspended from baseball, and he is expected to miss at least six games.
ATLANTA, Ga. — The Atlanta Braves are prepared to play in the National League Championship Series without outfielder Jorge Soler, who had a positive COVID-19 test.
The Braves worked out at Truist Park on Thursday sans Soler, who was scratched from Game 4 of the National League Division Series against Milwaukee on Tuesday. Dansby Swanson took over as the leadoff hitter, Guillermo Heredia moved to center field, and Cristian Pache was named to the 26-man roster in lieu of Soler.
The Braves clinched the best-of-five division series by defeating the Brewers 5-4 with the new lineup.
Manager Brian Snitker of the Atlanta Braves expressed interest in having Soler’s power bat on his NLCS squad. During the regular season, Soler batted.223 with 27 home runs and 70 RBIs for Kansas City and Atlanta.
When questioned about Soler, Snitker stated, “We want everyone there,” adding that he “hated” that he had to miss the clinching game against the Brewers.
“To be honest, I’m not sure this team has been so reliant on one player all year, as we’ve demonstrated. The men continue to play the game. Is he anything you’d want to have? Yeah. So be it if we don’t. Simply go out and win in whatever way we can.”
Soler has been vaccinated, but he may not be allowed to play again until the NLCS, which is a best-of-seven series. Snitker said that he had not spoken to Soler.
Snitker stated, “We have to approach it as if I don’t know whether he’ll be here for the NLCS.” “That is the strategy we must take. We’re going to act as if he’s not going to be here until he shows up, gets cleared, and does everything MLB requires of him.”
After the Braves lost Ronald Acua Jr. to a season-ending knee injury and Marcell Ozuna to legal issues, general manager Alex Anthopoulos engineered a dramatic outfield makeover.
Anthopoulos initially acquired Joc Pederson, then added Soler, Eddie Rosario, and Adam Duvall as trade deadline approached on July 30.
With Soler’s health unclear, the outfield depth provided by the trades becomes even more crucial as the Braves attempt to return to the World Series for the first time since 1999.
“I believe the clubhouse was like, ‘We’re not going to sit around and wait,’ when we got Joc,” Snitker said. “Alex is on his way. He struck quickly, and the fact that he did so — the following wave of men at the deadline — demonstrated to our troops that we were serious about this. I believe it made a huge difference in that room.”
The Braves’ three-man rotation of Charlie Morton, Max Fried, and Ian Anderson may be kept. Morton allowed two runs in 313 innings on short rest on Tuesday. Fried is expected to start Game 1 of the NLCS.
Huascar Ynoa and Drew Smyly, who were in the rotation during the regular season, were in the bullpen during the division series and seem to be available again in relief. In Game 4, they may be utilized as part of a bullpen strategy.
“It’ll probably line up where we’ll have a bullpen game,” Snitker said. “But, you know, in this series, we had two starters in our bullpen.” “We’ll be OK,” says the narrator.