The MLB season will return in late July after a long delay due to COVID-19 following an agreement between the owners and the players' union. The opening day draws near, but one team is already dealing with setbacks due to the coronavirus. Four-time All-Star Freddie Freeman, premier reliever Will Smith and two other members of the Atlanta Braves have tested positive.
ESPN spoke to manager Brian Snitker, who confirmed the positive tests. He said that Freeman, Smith, Touki Toussaint and infielder Pete Kozma all agreed to have their tests disclosed. The manager said that Freeman initially had a negative test, but this changed on Friday. The first baseman later developed a fever and "is not feeling great" with less than three weeks remaining until opening day.
"Most of you might know by now... Freddie tested positive for Covid-19 last night," Freeman's wife Chelsea wrote on Instagram. "He has had body aches, headaches, chills and a high fever since Thursday. He is someone who literally never gets sick and this virus hit him like a ton of bricks. We've been really strict for the last 4 months. Haven't gone to a grocery store, haven't gone out to dinner once, haven't seen our friends and only allowed family at our house and we still got it."
Chelsea said that she and the other members of her family have not tested positive despite being around Freeman. She is hoping that they remain healthy and is asking for prayers of protection. Chelsea also pleaded with her followers on social media to take the coronavirus seriously and wear maks.
While Freeman is dealing with a fever, Smith and Toussaint have no symptoms. Snitker said that Kozma has a fever and that the infielder has been working with top minor leaguers at the team's Triple-A Gwinnett facility. While Snitker expects all four players to recover, he did tell ESPN that concern will remain all season due to them potentially contracting the virus once again.
The Braves are uncertain about whether or not the four players will suit up for the opening day. MLB has set the season to start on July 23, kicking off a 60-game regular season in which each team plays its divisional opponents 40 times. The other 20 games will be against the opposite league's corresponding geographical division, meaning the NL East will play the AL East and so on. The teams will continue to test their players every other day during camp, regular season and the postseason.