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Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos says Cole Hamels expected ready for Opening Day, no known COVID-19 cases in organization

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Highlights from Anthopoulos meeting with the media on Wednesday

2020 Grape Fruit League Media Availability Photo by Mary DeCicco/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Braves General Manager Alex Anthopoulos met with the media on Wednesday for the first time since a return-to-play deal was reached and discussed a wide variety of topics with spring training a week away.

Cole Hamels

Perhaps the most notable highlight of the call was the health of Cole Hamels’ shoulder. Hamels was sidelined in March with a shoulder strain and was expected to miss at least the first six weeks of the would-be season. Now, it seems Hamels will be ready for Opening Day on July 27, barring any setbacks. He is expected to throw a bullpen on Friday and has been throwing off flat ground comfortably in recent weeks. Needless to say, Hamels bolstering the rotation alongside Mike Soroka, Max Fried and Mike Foltynewicz would go a long way in helping the Braves win their third consecutive NL East title.

Being Cautious With Pitchers

With only four weeks for players to prepare for games, Anthopoulos suggested all starting pitchers will be limited to 3-4 innings in their early starts. Teams are generally cautious with their pitchers in the early going of the season anyway, and with the unconventional schedule this year and 30-man rosters to begin the season it makes no sense to push starters to the max right off the bat. One would assume this opens the door for guys like Kyle Wright and Touki Toussaint to gain some innings early on while piggybacking off starts from Soroka, Fried and co.

COVID-19

Another positive report from Anthopoulos was that to his knowledge no one within the Braves organization is currently dealing with COVID-19. He added that players, coaches, etc. would not be living in a bubble during the season and will be free to come and go from their homes before and after games.

Taxi Squad

Anthopoulos said the plan for taxi squad players (which Talking Chop’s Kris Willis detailed earlier today) is to work out at Gwinnett while the normal starters prepare at Truist Park.