Braves Update Injuries to Austin Riley, Travis d'Arnaud

Austin Riley's injury has lingered longer than anticipated, prompting questions of why the Braves didn't place him on the injured list.
Atlanta Braves third baseman Austin Riley will miss his fifth consecutive game tonight as he's still struggling with the inflammation in his side that knocked him out of Sunday's matchup.
Atlanta Braves third baseman Austin Riley will miss his fifth consecutive game tonight as he's still struggling with the inflammation in his side that knocked him out of Sunday's matchup. / John Jones-USA TODAY Sports
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The Atlanta Braves got a bit healthier today when they activated reliever Pierce Johnson (elbow inflammation) from the injured list. 

There are two more injuries, however, that are impacting the club’s depth at the major league level.  

Travis d'Arnaud should return soon

Catcher Travis d’Arnaud and third baseman Austin Riley are both out of tonight’s lineup, for different reasons and with different expectations on when they might return. 

d’Arnaud was the more immediate and long-term concern: the veteran catcher experienced a bout of dizziness after being hit by a foul tip in the mask during last night’s game, prompting concerns that he had suffered his fifth career concussion. Having missed a month last season after his fourth career concussion, a fifth had the potential to sideline the veteran for an extended period as well as raise questions of long-term health. d'Arnaud was removed from last night's game and replaced by backup Chadwick Tromp, but thankfully passed a concussion test last night and was set to be re-evaluated today. 

d’Arnaud reportedly is feeling “much better” today, per manager Brian Snitker, and will avoid an injured list stint. The goal is to avoid using him for the next two games, but he’ll be available in an emergency situation if needed. 

Given the lingering absence of starter Sean Murphy, out since the season opener with a strained oblique, the team did not have a 4th catcher on the 40-man roster and would have needed to make a roster move to add one if d’Arnaud required a stay on the injured list. 

It wasn't all good news

The disappointing injury update came about third baseman Austin Riley. Held out since leaving Sunday’s game with “left side tightness” and later confirmed via MRI as merely “inflammation”, we got more clarification on the specifics of the injury today. 

The third baseman relayed that the medical staff had diagnosed this as “intercostal” inflammation, or inflammation to the muscles between the ribs in his left side. Riley reported feeling better since the issue cropped up on Sunday, but admitted that he hasn’t yet begun swinging a bat. 

The initial thought was that Riley would take a few days off and then return by the start of this series versus the Padres, but the new revelations of the inability to swing yet have that deadline in doubt. Riley himself questioned if he’d be back by the time Atlanta heads to Chicago to take on the Cubs, a series that starts on Tuesday in Wrigley Field, leading to questions about why the team has chosen to manage the injury the way that they have. 

The minimum injured list placement for a position player is only ten days, so placing Riley on the IL after the injury would have allowed for a return date of Thursday the 23rd, the final game of the Cubs series. That decision could have been made any time during the previous Cubs series, as injured list placements can be backdated up to three days (provided the player has not appeared in a game during that time.) 

Since Riley wasn’t swinging a bat by Wednesday, a move could have been made by the end of the game to place him on the injured list with a backdated effective date of Monday the 13th. 

Once possible explanation for not making that injured list placement came from Snitker today, when he admitted that there wasn’t an obvious candidate to be called up from Triple-A Gwinnett to take Riley’s place on the roster. The only position players currently on the 40-man roster in Gwinnett are outfielder Forrest Wall and J.P. Martínez, both of which wouldn’t be useful in the infield to help replace Riley. Utilityman David Fletcher, who was outrighted to Gwinnett when Ozzie Albies returned, is not on the 40-man roster and would have required a roster move to be added. 

Fletcher’s also facing an upcoming investigation from the league after last night’s reporting from ESPN’s Tisha Thompson about his usage of the same illegal bookmaker in Southern California as former Shohei Ohtani interpreter Ippei Mizuhara. Per the report, Fletcher did not bet on baseball, but is “expected to be” subject to a league investigation after the news of his proximity to the Mizuhara scandal. Mizuhara, who was fired by the Los Angeles Dodgers after it was uncovered that he stole almost $17M from Ohtani to pay his own gambling debts to the illegal bookmaking operation, has pled guilty to federal charges of bank fraud and filing a false tax return. 

Another explanation for not making the move is that that additional player who would have been called up probably wouldn't have played - the Braves don't rotate their position players, with almost every position outside of left field having a set starter that is in the lineup virtually every single day.

In the meantime, with Riley unavailable and d’Arnaud set for emergency usage only, Atlanta’s currently using a two-man bench for the rest of the weekend. There’s outfielder Adam Duvall, who rotates in with Jarred Kelenic in left field, and there’s utilityman Luke Williams. Snitker disclosed last night that Williams would serve as the emergency catcher for the team and he has previous major league experience at every single non-catcher position on the diamond. 

Let’s hope the team doesn’t need him. 

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Lindsay Crosby


Managing Editor for Braves Today and the 2023 IBWAA Prospects/Minors Writer of the Year. You can reach him at