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Sport: Travis d’Arnaud, Tyler Flowers exhibit COVID-19 symptoms, unavailable for Braves' opener

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The Braves will be without both of their top two catchers for Friday’s opener, manager Brian Snitker announced to reporters (Twitter link via David O’Brien of The Athletic). Both Travis d’Arnaud and Tyler Flowers are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, and while both have tested negative, they’re back in Atlanta rather than with the club in New York. Alex Jackson, who was on the team’s taxi squad, will get the starting nod behind the plate. Catcher William Contreras, also on the 40-man roster and in the 60-man player pool, will likely be brought up as the backup.

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a young boy standing on a baseball field: Backstop Travis d'Arnaud is one of two Braves catchers who are exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms. © John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports Backstop Travis d'Arnaud is one of two Braves catchers who are exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms.

It’s a sudden depletion of the Braves’ catching depth and a stark reminder of how quickly a club’s depth can be compromised in a strange 2020 season. Jackson will be unexpectedly thrust into a starting role for at least Friday — the timeline for d’Arnaud and Flowers to return can’t be known just yet — despite having just four MLB games under his belt. The former No. 6 overall draft pick carries plenty of power but has also had longstanding issues making contact (career 30% strikeout rate in the minors — 34% in Triple-A). His defense, too, has been an ongoing question that has resulted in Jackson at times getting looks in the corner outfield.

Braves catchers Travis d’Arnaud, Tyler Flowers nearing activation

  Braves catchers Travis d’Arnaud, Tyler Flowers nearing activation Flowers, 34, has been a reliable producer for the Braves dating back to 2016, having hit .254/.350/.412 (104 wRC+) in 1,301 plate appearances for Atlanta. He is also known as one of the game’s premier pitch-framing backstops. Subscribe to Yardbarker's Morning Bark, the most comprehensive newsletter in sports. Customize your email to get the latest news on your favorite sports, teams and schools. Emailed daily.

Contreras, the younger brother of Cubs star Willson Contreras, has never appeared in a Triple-A game — let alone in the big leagues. He’s a well-regarded catching prospect, but his .255/.315/.354 output at the plate between Class-A Advanced and Double-A in 2019 was a notable step back from 2018’s .285/.347/.436.

Both d’Arnaud and Flowers will technically be placed on the COVID-19 IL as a means of facilitating the promotion of Jackson and Contreras. Unlike other injured lists, however, there’s no minimum stay on the COVID-19 IL. It remains to be seen just when d’Arnaud and Flowers will be cleared to return, though the hope is that both catcher’s symptoms will be abate in short order.

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Dave Roberts plans to warn Dodgers about bench-clearing incidents

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Report: SEC moving toward 10-game, conference-only schedule

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Additional Marlins player tests positive for COVID-19 .
Another Marlins player has tested positive for COVID-19 infection. His identity is not known at this time. © Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports Another Marlins player has tested positive for COVID-19 infection. His ident It’s not altogether surprising to see additional positive tests arising, given the incubation period of the disease and multiple potential chains of transmission. In this case, Rosenthal says, contract tracing efforts had already identified the particular player as likely to have been exposed. That doesn’t change the gravity of the situation.

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